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Liberian English is a term used to refer to the varieties of English spoken in the African country of Liberia. There are four such varieties:

Normally, Liberians do not use these terms and instead refer to all such varieties simply as 'English.' Additionally, the term 'Liberian English' is sometimes used for all varieties except the standard.

Contents

Standard Liberian English

Standard Liberian English is the language of those people whose African American ancestors immigrated to Liberia in the nineteenth century. This variety is a transplanted variety of African American Vernacular English. It is most distinctive in isolated settlements such as Louisiana, Lexington, and Bluntsville, small communities upriver from Greenville in Sinoe County. According to 1993 statistics, approximately 69,000 people, or 2.5% of the population, spoke Standard Liberian English as a first language. The vowel system is more elaborate than in other West African variants; Standard Liberian English distinguishes [i] from [ɪ], and [u] from [ʊ], and uses the diphthongs [aɪ], [aʊ], and [əɪ]. Vowels can be nasalised. The final vowel of happy is [ɛ]. It favours open syllables, usually omitting [t], [d], or a fricative. The interdental fricatives [θ, ð] appear as [t, d] initially, and as [f, v] finally. The glottal fricative [h] is preserved as is the sequence [hw]. Affricates have lost their stop component, thus [t͡ʃ] > [ʃ]. Between vowels, [t] may be flapped (>[ɾ]) as in North American English. Liquids are lost at the end of words or before consonants, making Standard Liberian English a non-rhotic dialect.[1]

Kru Pidgin English

Kru Pidgin English is a moribund variety that was spoken historically by 'Krumen'. These were individuals, most often from the Klao and Grebo ethnic groups, who worked as sailors on ships along the West African coast and also as migrant workers and domestics in such British colonies as the Gold Coast (Ghana) and Nigeria. The 'Krumen' tradition dates back to the end of the eighteenth century. With the end of the British colonial presence in West Africa in the mid-twentieth century, however, the tradition came to an end, and with it the ongoing use of Kru Pidgin English.

Liberian Kreyol language

Liberian Kreyol language (Vernacular Liberian English), the most common variety, developed from Liberian Interior Pidgin English, the Liberian version of West African Pidgin English though it has been significantly influenced by Liberian Settler English. Its phonology owes much to Liberia's Niger-Congo languages. Vernacular Liberian English has been analyzed having a post-creole continuum. As such, rather than being a pidgin wholly distinct from English, it is a range of varieties that extend from the highly pidginized to one that shows many similarities to English as spoken elsewhere in West Africa.

References

  1. ^ Brinton, Lauren and Leslie Arnovick. The English Language: A Linguistic History. Oxford University Press: Canada, 2006

Bibliography

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