One of the largest challenges of communicating with someone speaking Liberian English is the understanding the differences in pronunciation. While pronunciation differs according to dialect, the individual, and location, there are a few key rules that if followed make it easier to understand what is being said. This lesson is simply meant to provide the learner with some basic of pronunciation in Liberian English, acting as a starting point and reference for listening comprehension.
Much of what is written here is taken from Singler (1980)-An Introduction to Liberian English. Key aspects are presented below
The “TH” seen in “those” is often pronounced with the sound of a “d” in the beginning of a word and a “v” when it is found elsewhere in a word.
- Those: Doz
- The: de
- Bathe: Bev
The “TH” seen in “thing” is often pronounced with sound of a “t” (no “th” sound). “TH” at the end of words is also often pronounced with an “f” or “t” sound.
- Thought: Tot
- Teeth: tit
- Faith: Fet
Some speakers do not distinguish between the sound of the “l” and “r,” so they may be used interchangeably. Though Singler notes that the confusing of “l” and “r” at the beginning of words is highly stigmatized.
- Load: Lod/Rod
- Road: Rod/Lod
Consonants at the end of words are often deleted immediately following a vowel.
- Stop: Sta
- Good: Gu
- Not: Na
Consonants in the middle of multi-syllable words may often be left off. But if a “D,” “T,” or “TH” are found within the multi-syllable word, it sounds like and “L”
- Headach: Helek
- Putting: Pule
Words are often finished with an “O” sound. This gives emphasis and can signal friendship.
- Finish: Fini…o
Now that so very basic pronunciation rules have been introduced read through the examples and see if you can make out the meaning of the sentences. You can read them out loud to practice hearing how they are pronounced. But before we begin, look at the key vocabulary to aid in your learning and to also practice the rules above (check bottom for answer key):
- Ba- Friend
Practice: Pronunciation Sentences
- Taylah carry mah own sef pla’ toe to hi’ hou’.
- De pekin eh sleepi’ bah da’ pi’ hou.’
- De ro’ he wah a bri’ one and dryo.
- Leh pum’ eh spoi’. Le’ carry de jeep to tow’ fo’ new pah.
- Boieh! Boieh! Boieh!
- Unca Bah, I juke mah foo-o. Plea’ pu’ plasti’ on mah cuh.
- i’ yaw wais’ wateh on ma’ trouseh, I weh sureleh blow yaw mouf.
- We gettin’ yaw puh-lenti!
- I cuh’ to spe’ to yaw.
- Sta e, tit giv helek, no gu
- De kef hi on da lod
Vocabulary Answer Key:
- Fala: Father
- Olele: Old Lady
- Dala: Daugher
Sentences Answer Key:
- “Tyler carry my own self play toy to his house,” or “Tyler took my toy to his house.”
- “The boy is sleeping by the pig house”
- “The rogue he was a bright one and dry-o,” or “The thief was light-skinned and very thin.”
- “The pump is spoiled, let’s carry the jeep to town for new part,” or “The pump is not working, so let’s take the jeep into town for a new part.”
- “Boiled egg, boiled egg, boiled egg!”
- “Uncle Bob, I juke my foot. Please put plastic on my cut,” or “Uncle Bob, something poked into my foot. Please put a band aid on my cut.”
- “If you waste water on my trousers, I will surely blow your mouth, “ or “If you dump or spill that water on my pants, I will certainly punch you in the mouth.”
- “We getting you plenty,” Or “We understood you very well.”
- “I come to speak to you,” or “I dropped by just to say hi.”
- “Stop it, my teeth are giving me a headache and its not good,” or “ Stop it, my teeth are giving me a headache and it hurts.”
- “They caught him on the road.”