Caribbean slang

Old Sep 9th 2018, 9:08 pm
  #16  
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Default Re: Caribbean slang

Originally Posted by uk_grenada View Post
Good morning Gordon , apologies if this is spelt slightly unusually but I’m having to use voice to text because I had an Ieye problem - detached retina stuck back on within 24 hours thank you NHS and jet medevac... ! really cant see the keyboard properly temporarily, firstly patwa is properly spelt P a TO I S it’s French word.

Grenadas History is mainly French with some Spanish so much the words are a combination of English and French or English and Spanish although as you know dialect and lack of standard spellings makes a huge difference, this is half the fun of filing the roots of these words

Sorry to hear about your eye problem. Gosh, where did they have to medevac you to? Just as well you have access to a voice-operated computer, eh?

Yes, I know patois is the proper spelling (and I did use it in my post), but in Jamaica (alone, perhaps) the word is usually spelt patwa when it refers to the local version. A patois over time can become a language of its own - witness Afrikaans, for instance, which began as just a colonial-Dutch dialect.

Many years ago I lived in the New Hebrides, a French-British protectorate in the South Pacific, now called Vanuatu, where the lingua franca was simplified pidgin-English speech. When the place became an independent nation, the local rulers decided that the pidgin should be a written language, and some very odd words came into being, spelt phonetically. One of my favourites is olgeta, meaning "everybody" or sometimes "all of them/us"; the origin of which was simply an abbreviated form of "all together". Google the word, for a smile. Gutpela is from "good fellow", and so on.
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Old Jun 4th 2019, 7:35 pm
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Default Re: Caribbean slang

I presume this thread is still alive, since there is no notice that it's not. So, read on...

When we first came to Cayman forty years ago as a white male foreigner I was often addressed (to my horror) as "master", by black or dark-brown Caymanians and Jamaicans. Fortunately, that went out of fashion within a few years! A few years later, Caribbean cashiers and those in similar occupations began calling their customers "bibi", which I think originated in Trinidad. That too passed, in time. Then I became "sir"; and now that I am in my 70s - and I look it - I am sometimes addressed (again, by natives of the region) as "Daddy" - and my wife as "Mummy". Both are terms of respect. I wonder if other Caribbean islands have had the same transition.
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Old Jun 5th 2019, 1:41 pm
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Default Re: Caribbean slang

Here it tends to be mami, but yes, same respectful terms. If very formal, mistress is sometimes used.
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Old Jun 7th 2019, 7:39 pm
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Default Re: Caribbean slang

Another thing I had to get used to in Cayman was the perception that "evening" begins at noon. In every other English-speaking place I'd been to, the greeting "Good evening" was left until around sunset, so it was strange to hear it a minute after midday.

From some Jamaicans of course the greeting was and is, "Good eveling" That still puzzles me, how the "n" sound morphed into "l". Another confusing switch occurs in Michael Holding's cricket commentary, when "middle" comes out "miggle". Where do those two aberrations come from - any ideas? And, do they apply in other Caribbean islands?
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 12:57 pm
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Default Re: Caribbean slang

No extra L’s or M’s. We do have the interesting thing about new years eve - its old years night here. Theres no official patois but there are plenty of french spanish and indian words in the language, as there is in british. You realise bungalow is punjabi, and going doolally [mad] refers to a town in india with a large mental institution. Here thats called ‘going to the green house’ which the mental institution still is. Theres a great saying - to get a decent view in st georges you have to be mad bad or dead. The prison and mental hospital are on high ridges over the town, with the biggest cemetery [completely overflowing] below on the hillside. If we ever get an earthquake the dead will truly rise, and a car accident on the hill road by the cemetery seriously risks opening a tomb.
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Old Jul 19th 2019, 5:29 am
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Default Re: Caribbean slang

It puzzles me whenever I think of it, how little our local language has changed in the forty years we've been here. The population has increased from 16,000 to 66,000, and a great many of the newcomers have been from all over the world. Back then, we were Caymanians, Jamaicans, British, and others from the Western Hemisphere - Canada and the USA, Latin America, and other Caribbean islands. Since then, the numbers have increased from those places, but whole new communities have joined them from elsewhere. Mainly they're Indians from various parts of India, with their various languages in addition to English, and Filipinos from various islands speaking their different languages in addition to English, but there are something like 100 different nationalities here now, speaking at least sixty different native languages. And yet, no new foreign words have crept into our English - at least, none that I can think of, off hand. Isn't that strange?
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Old Jul 23rd 2019, 3:22 am
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Default Re: Caribbean slang

Actually, thinking about that last post of mine... Maybe it's not so strange that other languages haven't seeped into ours, in Cayman. When I first landed in England from Australia, aged 23, I had a very strong Aussie accent, which I had to curb if I wanted to be understood by my new countrymen. When I reached the Continent, I had to abandon it altogether, pretty much - again, if I wanted to be understood. At the same time, I had to eliminate all (well, most) of the Australian slang words, and expressions. (There was a story doing the rounds back them of a girl newly arrived in England who asked Boots if they had any Durex with "Happy Xmas" on it - Durex being our word for what I hastily learnt to call Scotch Tape.)

Today, my slang is either US or English, and only occasionally Caribbean. Off-guard, some expressions from my early days spring out. I broke up a Board meeting a while back when, irritated by a woefully erratic sales chart, I dismissed it scornfully as "up and down like father's pants". Which may or may not be of Australian origin; but was common enough in my little part of the country. My clients have since adopted it as their own, so I guess that's one small victory for a foreign saying.
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Old Jul 23rd 2019, 11:20 am
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Default Re: Caribbean slang

You know the english version of that expression is like a whores drawers....

There are similar scorch tape jokes too - the guy who buys durex unseen - which is naturally provided in a little bag in sydney and discovers later that necessity is indeed the mother of invention...
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Old Nov 19th 2019, 11:41 pm
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Default Re: Caribbean slang

Either country or island has its own slangs, I guess.
I used to live in T&T, and there is a mix of slangs representing the histories/ethnicities of the islands.

For instance, obeah means sorcery and this is from Africa.
There is a phrase "boil down like baji..." meaning to reduce to a weaker state. Baji is a plant used in curries and stews, and in most Indo-Trinbagonian cookery.
Younger people, largely due to Jamaican dancehall music, say "bredren" to mean good friends - it's a corruption of "brethren".
Others are localised, but with no apparent outside origin.

Being cheated on in a relationship is to be "horned" or suffer a "horn".
To experience loss over a failed relationship is "tabanca".
To get or give out physical beatings is "licks" - short form of "licking".
And idiotic actions, views, or speech are "stupidness". In the UK, we say "stupidity" or "idiocy" but it's actually a word in the dictionary. For some reason, we don't use it as much as in the Caribbean.
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Old Nov 20th 2019, 12:51 am
  #25  
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Default Re: Caribbean slang

Originally Posted by namsbabe View Post
To get or give out physical beatings is "licks" - short form of "licking".
I haven't heard the other words; they may be limited to T & T. But "lick" is an old English word that's common throughout the region: "I gettin me licks in", or "e lick im good nah!"

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Old Nov 20th 2019, 12:55 am
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Default Re: Caribbean slang

I've heard Jamaicans say obeah. It must come from the slavery era, since there are Akan (from modern-day Ghana) and Igbo (from modern-day Nigeria) words with similar meanings.
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Old Nov 20th 2019, 1:07 am
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Default Re: Caribbean slang

Originally Posted by namsbabe View Post
I've heard Jamaicans say obeah. It must come from the slavery era, since there are Akan (from modern-day Ghana) and Igbo (from modern-day Nigeria) words with similar meanings.
Oh yes. Here in Cayman, until quite recently we had a law that banned the practice of obeah - by that name; I remember at least one prosecution (successful) during my 42 years here.
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Old Nov 24th 2019, 8:56 pm
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This is a slight departure from the "Caribbean slang" theme, but... local gestures... Musing to myself in the car the other day, I wondered how long I've been giving a slight jerk of my head upwards as a signal to other drivers joining my line of traffic that I'm giving them the OK to butt in ahead of me. Is it a Caribbean-wide thing? I remember from my travelling days in Turkey - and perhaps in some of the Arab countries - that an upward jerk meant simply "no" in answer to a question. Accompanied by a "tsk" sound as an emphasis. Maybe in Greece too. Quite the opposite of my local car-driving gesture.

Do they use it down your way, Grenada?
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Old Nov 25th 2019, 8:42 am
  #29  
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Default Re: Caribbean slang

Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow View Post
This is a slight departure from the "Caribbean slang" theme, but... local gestures... Musing to myself in the car the other day, I wondered how long I've been giving a slight jerk of my head upwards as a signal to other drivers joining my line of traffic that I'm giving them the OK to butt in ahead of me. Is it a Caribbean-wide thing? I remember from my travelling days in Turkey - and perhaps in some of the Arab countries - that an upward jerk meant simply "no" in answer to a question. Accompanied by a "tsk" sound as an emphasis. Maybe in Greece too. Quite the opposite of my local car-driving gesture.

Do they use it down your way, Grenada?
Yes but not the same gesture, here people just nod. We gave lots of narrow mountainous roads, and passing is a bit of an art sometimes. When you draw level with the driver a nod is normal, sometimes accompanied by ‘good’ Or ‘alright’

letting people in - pretty courteous but no gesture universally seen.
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Old Nov 30th 2019, 3:51 am
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Default Re: Caribbean slang

Another gesture I've encountered only in Cayman, as far as I can remember, and that's the substitute for a handshake when both hands are carrying something. Men to men more than women, I think. The substitution is the offer of a forearm or an elbow. When two acquaintances meet and both have their hands full, an elbow-bump is expected, and given. Nowhere else in the world have I been where that happens. Elsewhere, both men would simply nod.
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