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:
- 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’.
- 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.
- Dhansirya: A woman who wastes money. I sorry fuh he, that wife ah he one is ah dhansirya.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Pull hand: In SUSU, to collect the entire amount of all members contributions in your turn
- 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!
- 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.
- 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