Thursday, April 4, 2013

Trinidad Talk and Culture

After listening to Trinidad talk for a few weeks I decided to look up a few of the words and expressions to see if I could understand them more.  When we're in conversation with a serious "Trinny" we are totally lost and have learned to ask them to speak slowly and pronounce their words as clearly as they can - it helps a bit.  To let you know what we're up against here are a few selected words and phrases taken from a source the mission published and another one I found on the internet.  To lend a realistic sense, I've interspersed the lingo with some of the island culture. 
For true - for real
Garr - Sit around talking
Liming - sitting around
Mindin my picknies - minding my kids
Utes - youths

Tree - three


When one of the branch members said "one, two, tree" I said spell three and he spelled it correctly.  I then said say three and he said tree.  We both got a laugh out of it.

Till over so - that direction close by
What da scene -  what's up
Ya storyam - you are lying
Watch me know - listen to my story
What's your title? - what's your last name
Rasta Man
Bacchanal - arguments, confusion e.g. "If dey find out, it will be rel bacchanal."

Back chat - a rude response e.g. "Doh give meh no back chat now, yuh hear!"

Badjohn - a bully; a person who thinks they're really "bad"

Bath suit - swim suit

Band (Carnival) - a Carnival band refers to a group of masqueraders who are wearing the same costumes, or costumes based on the same theme.

Biscuit - cookie, cracker
Banana truck with workman asleep on top

Bobolee - a person who gets taken advantage of

Bobolize - to bully someone

Boof / buff - to scold

Buss - to burst; to be a flop e.g. "Shux dred, dat party was rel buss."

Buss it - to leave e.g. "Well when I see dat, I buss it!"

Chips - French Fries e.g. "May I have some chips, please?"

Chutney - a type of music indigenous to Trinidad, which evolved from Indian music
A lot of the men with rasta hair will tie it up and put this type of hat on and the hat being a loose knit expands to match the size of the rasta.  They also wrap it in colorful fabrics and see how high they can stack it.  I will take some pictures of their hair wrapped and post them in the future.


"Trinidad doubles" sold by vendors on the streets.  It is an inexpensive fried bread with a chick bean, onion and garlic sauce filling.  Very popular.

Commesse - confusion, conflict

Cunumunu - a foolish person

Dingolay - to dance in a joyful, carefree manner

Dotish - silly, stupid e.g "Don't act dotish nah!"

Doux-doux - sweetie, sweetheart e.g. "Don't mind dat, doux-doux."

Dred - friend (see also hoss, padna); cool e.g. "Dat movie was dred, eh dred?"

Fella - a fellow, a boy, a guy e.g. "Way! Check dat fella!"

Fete - party

Fuh real? - really? Is that so?
Gyul - girl

Hoss - a close friend
In truth - for real, that's right e.g. "That test was so hard!" Reply: "In truth!"

Lagniappe - a little extra, a bonus
Lil - little

Lime - to hang out in a casual atmosphere e.g. "I feeling to lime."

Maco - someone who minds other people's business! e.g. "Wha yuh macoing so for?"

Cotton candy street vendor

Make style - to show off

Mamaguy - to make fun of, to fool

Mas - used to refer to Carnival; to play mas - to masquerade

Obeah - black magic, voodoo

Obzokee - unpleasant, out of place

Ole talk - chit-chat, light-hearted chatter e.g. "We was just ole talking dey."

One time - right now, immediately e.g. "De gyul was rel angry so I buss it one time."
Padna - (from "partner") a close friend, buddy


Sister John hanging out her wash

Parang - music played during Christmas time. Parang has a lot of Spanish influences.

Patois - local dialect
Picker - thorns e.g. "Doh touch dat rose bush. It have rel pickers."

Picong - to insult in a jesting manner

Pong - pound e.g. "Gih meh two pongs of tomatoes dey tantie."
Poohar - see dotish


Rasta man taken from "Trinidad Rasta Hair" website

Pot hound / pot hong - a mixed dog; sometimes used as an insult e.g. yuh lazy pothound!

Saga boy / star boy - a male who likes to "make style"; a male who is cool

Screw up yuh face - to make a strange expression, usually when angry or in disagreement of something e.g. "Look how she screwin up she face nah!"
Soca - a type of music indigenous to TnT, derived from "soul calypso"

Soucouyant - from old ghost stories, an old woman who turns herself into a ball of fire and suck's people's blood

Street vendor

Sweet too bad - really nice, pleasant, attractive e.g. "Dred, dat gyul eh play she sweet too bad!"

Sweet drink - term used for soft drink, soda, pop

Sweetie - a sweet, candy

Tabanca - the feeling of hurt and pain when a close relationship ends e.g. "Leave him alone hoss, he gyul leave him. He have rel tabanca."

Tantie - auntie
Tong - town e.g. "I went to tong today."


Open street market in Trinidad
Toutoulbay - a gullible person

Vex - angry, upset
Whas de scene? - What's up? e.g. Ay padna, whas de scene?

Look close... a really big Trinidad caterpillar found in the Asa Wright Nature Center - I wonder if they taste like termites?


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