Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Liberian Primer 2

Five more words and phrases heard in Monrovia:

Vexed. I am sure you already know what this word means. To be vexed is to be angry, of course. But when is the last time you used this word? Well, in Liberia, this word is far more employed than Americanisms such as to be angry, pissed off, steamed, got your Irish up, or what have you. A classic example of how Liberian speech is peppered with colorful, fancy words that are rarely used elsewhere. In daily conversation, people intimate and jubilate, and bad children make their parents vexed. Pronounced FEST, you'll hear this at least once a day, although you might not catch it at first. 

Haste. Again, not a new word, really. But when is the last time you asked someone if they were in haste? 'Hurry' is hardly ever heard here. 

Crawfish. I am on a roll hear with words that appear familiar and mundane. Yet, like the use of the word Jeep, I think this is another fascinating relic of the American connection to this country. The only two places in the world where shrimp are referred to as crawfish that I know of are the American South and Liberia. When I was tasting a shrimp dish recently, my friend explained that in Liberia they call it C-R-A-W-F-I-S-H. I told him I already knew the word. 

Ever-since. This is used when you have been waiting too long for something or someone. I was recently in a meeting where one man told a colleague, who was supposed to be preparing a report, that he had "been waiting for it ever-since."

I want to believe. One of my favorites. Such a great nuance that is so applicable to American speech yet is absent. Very often used in places where Americans might begin a declaration with "I think," as in, "I want to believe that she feels love for me," as opposed to simply, "I think she loves me."

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