West Indian Dialects and Popular Sayings

Dear Travel Diary,

As you know the local dialects and accents spoken by various West Indian destinations just tickles the ear as the melody washes over you. As a Trinidadian who has lived in another country for the majority of her life when I hear myself speak in comparison to another Trini who lives on the island naturally there are differences. There were differences even when I lived on the island, but, I am never more acutely aware of the actual sound of our voices, accents, and manner of speaking than when I am at home, or speaking to my parents.

Trinis speak fast, so fast that I have noticed my son, who is a Canadian, has minor challenges when being spoken to by his Grandfather, cousins, and well, any local. Because of the quickness he often has to ask for it to be repeated slowly.

Growing up in Trini, or on any Caribbean island grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents would always throw 'sayings' at you, and there's a saying for just about everything. Even today, many are still used, here are 5 you may or may not have heard: 

  1. All skin-Teet' eh laugh - Meaning: All smiles are not real laughter.  Deception is disguised by a smile.
  2. Beatin' yuh own drum an' dancing - Meaning: Answering your own questions.  Speaking so much that one covers every possible question-and-answer situation. Self praise.  To boast.  To speak highly of one's self.
  3. Follow-Fashion Kill Monkey-Dog - Meaning: Some people follow the fashion even if it 'kills' them, or makes them look ridiculous, as a half-monkey, half-dog. (This is so relevant today), lol
  4. Goat doh make sheep - Meaning: Children usually behave just like their parents.  chip off the old block.  Like father, like son.  Like mother, like daughter
  5. Every bread have it cheese - Meaning: no matter how unattractive one is, there is someone, somewhere who will find that one beautiful.  There is a matching partner for everyone, no matter how weird.

I found this jookin' board in a vintage store and could not leave it.  It's not the wooden as my grandmas, but it is a great piece :). I'd be damned if I'm going to jook up my fab fingers on this piece of torture device!

Glass jookin' board

Torture device jookin' board

There's a great book called Cote ce Cote la, Trinidad & Tobago Dictionary.  This book has all the local colloquialisms, sayings, definitions about many words we in TnT say and use daily.  If you have a chance, pick up a copy if you can, and begin your local sayings education, it's so much fun :) 

Be a dear and leave a comment as to your local sayings. I know you have heard of some that just made you go, hmmmmm. 

Have you ever heard a West Indian accent that just made you stop and smile or wonder, "what in the world did you just say to me?" :)

Happy Travels,

J & T

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