Trini Soucouyant

Trini Folklore: Soucouyant

Soucouyant (n): A person, usually an old woman, who sheds her skin, travels as a ball of fire and sucks people’s blood, leaving a blue mark.

Soucouyants have an unnatural and indelicate propensity for casting off their skin, which they usually conceal in or under a chocolate mortar.  There are two plans: one is to sprinkle salt upon the cast-off skin, should you meet it (there’s the rub); or when you are expecting a visit from the ‘thing,’ strew the floor around your bed with rice.  This the Soucouyant, by some mysterious law, will be compelled to pick up grain by grain, thereby affording you an opportunity for slaying or otherwise disposing of the monstrosity.

Trini Soucouyant

Yesterday day night soucouyant suck me farder…On he leg an he han. It was looking blue blue.

Caribbean Usage

The Soukouyan is known as a fire-hag in Barbados, old-heg in the Bahamas and St. Vincent and the old-higue in Jamaica and Guyana. A legendary, evil, wrinkled old woman, who hides by day, but by night sheds her skin which she carefully hides in a jar, then becomes a ball of fire roving in the air to seek out and light upon sleeping victims. She sucks the blood of these victims, especially babies. Also derived from French Creole Soninke sukunya ‘man-eating sorcerer.

Caribbean Folklore

The various words and phrases from Trinidad & Tobago can be traced back to English, French and Spanish origins. Mother-giver is one such word that has its roots in the English language. Finally, 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.

Leave us a comment below of Trini phrases you have heard.

Source: Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago by Lise Winer & Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage by Richard Allsopp

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