By Kielon Hilaire. For times of infinity, numerous languages have been spoken by various ethnicities with the primary aspiration of communicating effectively whenever human heads collide with each other – language of French, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese – you get the point.
Without the utilisation of these twisted tongues, chaos might have been the only language that the world would have ever found. Can you name each and every language that is currently alive today? Chances are, unless you recently travelled “around the world in 80 days” you will be stomped before you know it.
Nonetheless, there is one language which some may call “the forbidden language” that belongs to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, and although the majority of words come from English, there are a number of unique words and sentence structures that make it most difficult to teach as a second language.
This article serves only to enlighten non-TT Creole speakers about some of the things that Trinbagonians say though, quite frankly, it is impossible to grasp the deepest mechanics of our local tongue in a few words.
Our popular greeting, “Waz de scene?” means in English: “What’s the scene?” and the answer is usually, “I dey,” meaning: “I’m there” or “I’m good.” Some may further respond with, “I on like christophene” in order to rhyme with “scene”, or “I on like boil corn.” Christophene and corn are commonly used vegetables in Trinidad and Tobago. Yes, we are very creative!
A young man may tell an elderly shopkeeper, “Tantie, dem pie and dem looking rel good boy!” The word “tantie” is used primarily to show respect when addressing elderly women and the phrase “and dem” is used to pluralise nouns.
We are creative
There is even a certain way to speak when ordering food. One of our traditional foods called “doubles” made with two barra and channa is a delicacy that almost every Trinbagonian cannot live without. If you approach a doubles vendor the quickest and most appropriate way to get what you want is to say, “Gimme one with no pepper, one without, one with slight, one with mango alone, or one just so.”
“Doodoo, take care!” Hold up one second, doodoo? Isn’t that something that dogs do out on the grass? Well, “doodoo” is actually a sweet name that one should be thankful to receive. The word has the equivalent meaning of the word “deary” which is often used by older women when speaking to young people. It generally means that you have attained a small portion of their intellectual approval as well as a little of their respect.
“Kill you dead” is another classical local expression. This means that you think you are right about something. Many girls say, “Kill she dead she looking good!” Some people may say, “Kill dem dead, we don’t know dey robbing we!”
“Reds!” “Dougla!” “Darkie!” These are standard greetings that quite a few men use to address attractive women. Here in Trinidad and Tobago, calling people by their race and skin colour is perfectly natural and some men even end up with hot dates in the end. This does not mean that we go along calling everyone we love “Whites”, “Blacks”, “Yellows” and “Browns”! There are specific names that are commonly used.
One popular corny line is, “Gyal, yuh on like boil corn!”
Our language may seem complicated because we are one of the most creative people in the world but it’s simple once you get the hang of it. So, the next time you feel like taking up a foreign language, why not learn the T&T language by conversing with our people and using our dictionaries. If you become a fluent speaker of T&T’s language, you will not regret it.
November 2011 – Issue 1 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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