Posts Tagged With: language

Do Trini’s speak English?

I’ve traveled over a small part of the Caribbean sea to experience what has been titled as “The best show on earth”.  If you’re familiar with the worldwide event of Carnival, you’ll know that I’ve landed in one of the top celebrated locations.  Welcome to Trinidad! Before we dive in to the controlled chaotic parties, elaborate costumes, all night events and some of the most energetic people on this planet… Lets meet the country first. If you’d like to see past detailed posts, click here and check out the land, food, adventure and culture. For now I’m just going to familiarize you with where the island is on the globe. 

Here’s a glimpse of its proportion to other parts of the world to give you an idea of the land size populating over 1.3 million people.

 Now for the fun part of this post! I often get asked “Do they speak English where you are?” Lets find out…

English Language: a west Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England; a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation.

Language used in Trinidad: Not English.

Trini slang:mixture of shortened words and phrases commonly used in daily communication.

Technically the language of Trinidad is English, however let me tell you that their verbiage is far from what the average English speaking person would recognize. Take a look at some of the phrases you may encounter while visiting the island of Trinidad. Here are just a few of my favorites!

Jus’ now – in a little while (5 minutes, a day, next week. Pretty much anytime except right now… Go figure)

One time – right now.  “Yuh come dis way one time” (I’d be like, just once? Really… That’s it… Never again?)

Jus’so – out of the blue

Lime – to hang out in a social setting “I feelin to lime”.

Fete a party… a big one with drinks, loud music and “nuff” (enough or a lot) people.  

Fuh true – in truth, for real. “Fuh true? You lie!”

Boomsie – the backside, bum, toosh, etc.

Shif yuh carcass – move over, get going

Sweet too bad –really nice, pleasant, attractive “Dred, dat gyul (girl) eh play she sweet too bad!”

Screw up yuh face – to make a face in disgust 

Vex – real angry “she make yuh rel vex, now yuh screw up yuh face”

Bacchanal (back-en-aul) – Scandal, heavy quarreling or a big party

Go doh make sheep -direct translation: “goat don’t make sheep” 

Bess – hot, attractive, sexy, appealing “ooh, she uh bess ting”

Maco (mah-coh) – someone who minds other people’s business; nosey

Awah – generally used at the end of a sentence in place of “or what” – “yuh limin, awah?”

Wha yuh for? –  “what do you want to do?

Dan dans – fancy clothes or dress up outfit

Words or phrases that you won’t hear in Trinidad:

The – If they even include it in a sentence it’s pronounce “dee” or “de”.

Examples:  “Yuh bring the punchy punch?”  Or “We goin down de islands”

Friend – Instead they refer to people close to them as family or they’ll use slang words.

Examples: Breddda (brother) Tanti (auntie) Hoss (“horse”, which in America would be “dawg”) Dred (friend) Gyul (girl)

Any word starting with “Th” is replaced with “D” or “T”– Try it, seriously any word. “Three” is tree & “Them” is dem.

Quick story a local friend told me.  When he was fifteen he was preparing to leave the island to go study in Canada.  Knowing the English language, his family tried to help (or just make fun) by having him repeat the number 3,333. It went like this:

“Tree thousand, tree hundred n thirty tree… No, Three thousand, tree hundred n tirty three… Ugh, THree THousand, THree hundred n tirty THree..”  You get the idea of why his family encouraged this entertainment. (Side note, he’s now one of the most successful business men on the island.  They call him the serial entrepreneur).

Pretty much any other word fully pronouciated – Sentences just don’t make sense or sound anything close to English.  A personal example was when I met a new friend here.

Him: “Ah hyar yuh livin dong by dey so?”

Me: “Uhh, I think I heard living… Say it again please?”

Him: (really slowly): “Haha, I say ahh hyyyar  yuh (as he points to me) livin dunnn by de so (as he points away)”.

Me: “Yeh, I got nothin”.

Turns out he had heard I was staying in Barbaods and was asking if it’s true. I still giggle over our entire interaction. 

Something I’ve learned in years of traveling is that pretending to know what someone is saying only leads to mass confusion and you looking “dotish” (stupid or like a foolish person). One time, smiling and nodding bought me a dozen hard boiled eggs and heavy cooking creme.  I was going for a dozen raw eggs and cottage cheese. Lesson learned.

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5 “not so” well known facts of Barbados!

You’d have to hear it for yourself to understand #1– The accent of the Barbadians! Yes, they speak English (so they say) but upon arriving and listening to locals socialize amongst themselves, you’ll quickly find out that there’s a separate language here.

– They put the emphasis on the second syllable. For example “Dis weekEND I goin to de marKET”.

– To really stress a specific thought, they repeat it three times.
“It be hot-hot-hot… or …sweet-sweet-sweet”.
“Boy yuh betta be quick-quick-quick”!

– Most words and/or sentences are cut short.
“I think she is cute” = “She cute”
“I don’t know about that” = “I ain kno bout dah”

-They use the word please in unusual places.
Me: “Do you have soda water here?”
Them: “Yes please”.
(What do you say to that? I just awkwardly smiled until they asked if I wanted one).

Me: “Are you guys still open for business.”
Them: “No please”.
Me: Confused

Fun phrases you may hear around the island:

-“Gol’ (gold) teet (teeth) doan suit hog mout (mouth)” = Fancy things don’t suit those that aren’t accustomed to them.
-“Ef greedy wait hot wud (would) cool” = Patience will be rewarded.
-“De higha de monkey climb, de more he show he tail” = The more you show off the more you show your faults.
-“Wuh ain’ see you, ain’ pass you” = Just because you got away with something so far does not mean that it won’t catch up with you later.

Not so well known fact #2 – You wouldn’t experience this by staying in a luxury hotel or massive bed and breakfast, but in your typical home, an iphone or rooster isn’t needed for an alarm clock. When the sun is just rising, you’d think there’s a team of monkeys practice gymnastics on the roof. Well there is! Directly above your bed, a family of monkeys are playing games and taking into no consideration that some of us sleep beyond 5am. I dare not complain though, as it wakes me with a giggle every morning.

Remember these guys from last year?



They’re still here!



Neat find #3– The Government had originally installed over 400 stand pipes where people could go to collect free water for their household. The stand pipe naturally became a busy common area of activity for social interaction – from gossip, to courtship, to political discussion, to confrontation. With the introduction of running water to virtually every Barbadian home, many of the stand pipes are no longer in use. However, there are still a few in operation to stop off for a drink while out and about.


Fun fashion fact #4 – You may know the fashion here in Barbados ranges from typical surf wear to high heels and suits. One thing extra that has been a common sight for my eyes, is no matter what the age or genre, they love to match! Shoes to purse, hat to pants, they’ve nailed it! I sat curbside during this street market and take a look at what I captured in just 30 minutes.


Little known fact #5 – During the period 1841-1845, Barbados was considered the healthiest place in the world to live. With having 1 death per 66 people, compared to world averages of approximately 1 death per 35 people. Curious why? I’m not.










Some photos above curtesy of my dear friends Ryan and Jason… Love you boys!



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