Merico or Americo-Liberian (or the informal colloquial name "American") is an English-based creole language spoken until recently in Liberia by Americo-Liberians, descendants of the Settlers, freed slaves and African Americans who emigrated from the Southern United States between 1819 and 1860. It is distinguished from Liberian Kreyol and from Kru, and may be connected to Gullah and Jamaican Creole.
Plurals are unmarked, as in rak "rock", "rocks", or marked with a -dɛ̃ suffix, as in rak-dɛ̃ "rocks". The verb expressing "to be" is sʌ, as in shi sʌ smo "she is small", but adjectives may be used without it, as in hi big "he is big". Verbs are not inflected for past tense.
Separate particles are used to indicate some verb tenses:
- ɛ̃ for negation (ai ɛ̃ æs di chææ "I didn't ask the child"),
- dɘ or lɛ for continuing action (hi dɘ spiish "he is talking at great length", shi lɛ kræ "she is crying"),
- wu for future (wi wu kʌ̃ "we will come"),
- dɔ̃ or nɔ̃ for completed action (de dɔ̃ go dædɘdwe "they have gone that way", lilpis nɔ̃ lɛf "not a little piece was left")
The pronouns include:
- Subject: ai/a, yu/yɔ/yo, hi/i, shi, wi, de/dɛ̃
- Object: mi, yu, hi/hĩ, hɔ, wi/ɔs, dɛ̃
- Possessive: mʌ/mi, yu/yo, hi/i, shi/hɔ, ou, dɛ