Trini Phrase: Merikan

A group of Black settlers and their descendants, who fought alongside the British against the United States during the War of 1812, were referred to as Merikans.

  • Merikan, Merikins (n) – Demobilised Black Soldiers for the West India Regiment, and escaped slaves who fought with the British against the United States in the War of 1812, established in the “Company” villages in eastern and south-central Trinidad after the American Revolution.

Merikan- Caribbean Usage

Black soldiers from the West India Regiment, who had been demobilized, were settled in 1815 in Manzanilla villages located on the east coast of Trinidad. Around the same time, former members of the Corps of Colonial Marines, who were enslaved people that escaped in the United States and fought for Britain in the 1812-14 war, were settled in seven “company villages” in Southern Trinidad. These were the Americans or Merikan

Governor Woodford settled the Merikan soldiers in Manzanilla for two reasons:

  • Keeping them away from the Trinidad slave population
  • To encourage the opening of a new road from Arima to the East Coast.

Manzanilla Point and the area around it remained wild and inaccessible until the year 1822 when Governor Ralph Woodford settled soldiers [-Merikans-] of the disbanded third West India Regiment area not too far from the point.

Trini Phrases

Lastly, the various words and phrases from Trinidad & Tobago can be traced back to English, French, Hindi, and Spanish origins. Merikan is one such word that has its roots in the English language. Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago is interesting because the slangs can change over time. I have lived in the United States for 20 years now. Every time I travel back to Trinidad and Tobago, I have to reacquaint myself with the words and phrases that have evolved.

Oral Traditions

Trini folklore such as Papa Bois is an oral tradition meant to pass on the next generation’s stories. Other Trini phrases in the vernacular are Tanka Lanka, Bobol and Obzocky.

Click here now for other Trini expressions and leave us a comment below of phrases you have heard.

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