Trinidad and Tobago language and flag

Trini Slangs

If you meet any Trinidadian or Tobagonian – Trini – you quickly acknowledge they like to ole talk all the time.

At the centre of any Trini lime, you will find food and blag.  Post-colonization Trinidadians carry forward the oral storytelling traditions of their West African ancestors to the ensuing generation at every lime.

The charm and sing-song tone of the Trinidadian articulation is easily distinguished from the other Caribbean countries.  It wasn’t until I migrated to the United States that I found a genuine admiration for the history, complexity and uniqueness of the spoken word in Trinidad.


Here is an inadequate sampling of sayings from Trini:

B

  • Back a jackass in ah horse race (phrase): Back or bet on a loser one that should have been obvious had no chance to succeed.
  • Bokee: A penalty in children’s games, usualy marbles, in which the winner snaps a finger or pitchess a marbles hard against the loser’s fingers or knuckles.
  • Break Dew:  Remain outside for a long time at night; stay outside all night until the morning DEW comes.
    • You break so much dew you catch cold (Ottley 1971:10)
  • Bring Belly: Become pregnant while living in the parental home.  You playing big woman, knocking all about at night, don’t bring any belly here.
  • Broko foot: Having one leg shorter than the other, limping.
  • Brulejol:  A dish made from salt cod, oil, onions, tomatoes, peppers usually eaten for breakfast.  French origin brÛle ‘burn’ + geule ‘throat’.

C

  • Cax for bokee:  In marble PITCH, a game in which players place their marbles at random, each player then tries to hit another’s marble, and the player whose marble is hit gets a BOKEE penalty.
  • Cax:  The sound of a solid hit in marbles
    • I hit him caxs!
  • Cockroach before fowl (phrase): Temptation; something impossible to resist.
    • Doh put that cake out – you put cockroach before fowl.
  • Cocktax: Court-ordered child support payments.

D

  • Dhansirya: A woman who wastes money.  I sorry fuh he, that wife ah he one is ah dhansirya.

G

  • Get On:  Carry on loudly; talk in an angry or excited way.
    • Any time you get ah real American in an aggravating situation, the first thing he do is let his voice be heard in objection; in other words, he does get on. (Lovelace, 1987:20)
  • Gouti Look Back: A position for sexual intercourse in which the man is behind the woman who is usually on her hands and knees.
  • Gownay: Elope; run away to get married.  They gone to gownay.

H

  • Have cocoa in de sun (phrase): Trinidadian phrase used as a warning that something is vulnerable, and needs to be protected; often used for situations in which people have something to hide.
    • When yuh have cocoa in de sun, look out for rain!

K

  • Kakanade:  Gossip; idle talk, shit talk.
  • Kick Pan: A children’s game in which a metal container is placed in the centre of the playing area; a catcher searches, while players to sneak in and kick if over before being caught.
    • The children playing kick the can down the road

L

  • Lime: Participate in an informal gathering of two or more people, characterised by semi-ritualised talking and socialising, drinking and eating.  In the day when you miss me, Ah liming by some old lady.

M

  • Massa Day Done:  An expression used to reproach someone to remind them that colonial days are finished and old privileges and oppression are no longer acceptable. (Public lecture by Eric Williams, 22 March 1961)
  • Matta Fix: Settled; arranged; ready to go.
    • A good brulejol must never boil, Once it’s well mixed, is matta fixed.

P

  • Pull hand: In SUSU, to collect the entire amount of all members contributions in your turn

R

  • Ram Goat Can’t Pee:  Phrase indicating that you do not believe someone’s story.  He cleaned up the whole house? That ram goat can’t pee!

S

  • SUSU:  A cooperative savings systems in which each person contributes the same fixed amount each week, and the whole amount, the HAND is taken by a different member each time.

T

  • Turtle Botheration:  A preparation of a  turtle penis in rum, of which small sips are taken as a male aphrodisiac.

Next time in Trinidad learns a couple of phrases of the language.

Source: Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago by Lise Winer

Featured Image: The Red, White and Black by JP-Talma

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