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A Tourists’ guide to Trinbagonian lingo!

Like the culture of its people, the language of Trinidad and Tobago can be described as a melodic mix, full of flavour! Voted in the top ten most attractive accents in the world, the Trini language/accent is one of the easiest to understand compared to other Caribbean islands.

On paper, the official language is Trinidad and Tobago Standard English (TTSE) but in reality it’s pretty mixed up and quite unique having been influenced by a bit of Amerindian, French, Spanish, African and Indian culture!

Knowing the meaning of some words in the Trinidadian and Tobagonian dictionary will definitely make you’re visit a more enjoyable one!

Inside Scoop – there is an Android app available for download called “Trini Lingo”. It’s a free Tribagonian dictionary.

Food & Drink

Babaash – home-made rum produced cheaply

Baigan – eggplant

Barra – the fried flour in a local delicacy called Doubles

Biscuit – cookie, cracker ~ “yuh want some biscuit and tea?”

Bodi – a type of beans

Callaloo – thick soup made with dasheen bush, ochro, coconut milk, crab, etc

Chinkey/ choonkey – a small portion ~ “how the chicken chinkey so?”

Chips – French fries ~ “ah want some chicken and chips”

Dal – Indian delicacy made of split peas

Founkie – foul smelling, bad odour ~ “something smellin founkie in here!”

Hotoetoe – large amount of something

Jook – to stab at something ~ “stop jooking up the cake so”

Kuchela – a hot mango condiment, from the Indian culture

Lagniappe – a little extra or bonus ~ “gimme a lagniappe in the BBQ Chicken na!”

Macafouchette – left over food from the day before

Maga – very thin, skinny ~ “this piece of chicken real maga boy!”

Pallet – a frozen fruit bar

Pong – a pound of something (weight) ~ “ah want ah pong of potato please!”

Qualey – withered, dry up ~ “how this piece of fried chicken qualey so?”

Sweet drink – soft drink, soda or pop ~ “you have any sweet drink?”

Sweetie – any confectionery or sweet candy ~ “how much for your sweetie?”

Tight – intoxicated, drunk

Events

Bacchanal – party atmosphere or argument and confusion ~ “this fete have bacchanal fuh so!”

Band – A Carnival band is a group of masqueraders ~ “which band you playing in for 2014?”

Chipping – usually around Carnival time, dancing in a rhythmic way down the street

Chune – a tune or song ~ “that is a nice chune”

Chutney – a type of music indigenous to TnT, derived from the Indian culture

Commesse – confusion, conflict ~ “look at commesse in this fete!”

Dingolay – dance in a very joyful way

En-less – plenty, endless ~ “it have en-less people in this fete!”

Fete – party ~ “what fete you going this weekend?’

Lime/ liming – spend time at a gathering, hang out ~ “where ya’ll liming this Friday?”

Mas – to play mas is to take part in Carnival celebrations ~ “you playing Mas this year?”

Parang – local music played around Christmas time

Prim Prim – too proper or formal ~ “she dress prim prim for this fete huh?”

Ram cram – packed to capacity ~ “this party ram cram boy!”

Saga boy/girl – flashy dresser

Soca – type of music ingenious to TnT

Wajang – a rowdy and uncouth person

Wine – to gyrate your waist as in dancing

Popular Phrases

Buh wait nuh! – Hold on a minute!

Dat gud fuh yuh! – serves you right!

How yuh skinnin’ yuh teeth so? – Why you so happy?

I en payin’ tax fuh meh mouth! – I could say what I want!

Jeez an ages! – Oh my gosh!

Never see, come see – pretending to know how to do something

Papa yo! – wow, I can’t believe this!

Shif yuh carcass na! – move over, move around please!

Wha yuh say? – What did you say?

Yuh look fuh dat – It’s your fault!

Yuh makin’ joke? – you serious?

Yuh break biche or wha? – you skip work/school to relax or what?

Extras

Bath suit – swim suit

Maco – someone who mind other people’s business

Mash up – destroy something

Ole Talk – chit chat, light hearted chatter

Pot hong – a mixed or stray dog

Patois – local dialect

Whas de scene? – What’s up? How are you?

Vex – angry

About Thannas

Thanna's Place is a family-owned bed and breakfast in Belmont, a suburb of Trinidad's capital Port of Spain.
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