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Trini Sociology

TRINI SPOTTING - by Alloy - copyright 1999

Trinis are a unique lot of people who can be spotted "a mile off".  They can be identified by their body language, speech, decorum, taste and even their judgement of time and space. They are very defensive of their peculiarities and feel offended when mistaken for any islander, other than a Trini.

"That's a Trini!" - These are the familiar words uttered when one hears 'Trini Speech'.  Trinis speak with a three dimensional, stereo effect, set to the rhythm of song.  For clarity, their speech is punctuated with sounds, eye, hand and body movements which together serve to remove any miscomprehension of space, size, density, colour,
texture and intensity from their communication.

A Trini's choice of words to describe a breadfruit falling from a tree will fully describe the state of ripeness of the fruit, and where it fell.  A ripe fruit falling to the ground will fall "BLAF!" whereas a ripe fruit falling on a galvanized roof will fall "BLANG!"  A green fruit, on the other hand, will fall to the ground "BUDUFF!" and that same fruit, falling on the same roof, will fall "BLAGADANG!"

A door will open "Kreekes" and will close "Badam! or "Clit-ticks!" depending on the force used to close it.  A dripping water tap will drip "plunks, plunks!"  but when WASA reduces the water pressure, the water will drip "chirrip, chirrip!"

A gunshot will sound, "Potow!" but if the bullet ricochets, the sound changes to "Peeoweeeee!"

Horses gallop, "Broogoodook! Broogoodook!"

Depending on its size and the depth of water, a stone could fall "Plunk!" or "Ploonks!" or "Ploochunk!" or "Splashaw!"

A Trini's cry in pain will denote the acuteness and intensity of the pain he or she is undergoing and can vary from " WooY!", "OOOOOOHH!", "Ohyoyoy!", "SSSSSSSSSSS" and "AHYAYAYE!"

His expression of surprise: "Aha!"; "O Gawd!"; "Bon Jay!"; Oui Foute!

His expression of disgust: "Ah Chut!" (usually accompanied with a STEUPS or stamping of the feet)

His expression of Joy: "Geez an ages!"

His salutations: "Woy!"; "Hey Man!"; "Chile!"; "All YUH"; "Breds" and even, "Stranger!"

How does a Trini swallow a drink:  "Gloodocks!"

A sudden shower of rain falls: "chwa!"

Trini women call each other "chile"; the men call each other "boy" and the boys call each other "man".  If you think that confusing, they refer to any older person of the male sex as "uncle" and of the female sex, as "tantie."  Individuals of two generations and older are called "Granny","Ma" or "Pa" depending on their sex.

Trini words come from all languages.  Example, from the French: oui,laingniappe, la diablesse, petit pot chambre, toute bagaille, mouche coocoon, fete, farine, flambeau, camboulay, drievay, etc.  From Hindi: dhal, bhagee, channa, juta, bowgee, daroo, gobar, barra, chunkay, kari, paisa, etc.  Similarly, words are used from Spanish and other ethnic
languages in everyday speech.

There are words that only Trinis use and understand, for example: birds "ramajay"; people "dingolay"; crabs "caray"; rude people "steupse"; careless people perform "vie-ki-vie".  Only Trini's know "Nancy Stories".  Boys have a "totie"; men have a "butu"; girls have a "toonkooloonks"; women have a "tuntun"; your sweetheart is your "doo-doo"; a Venezuelan is a "Pyol"; a bull's sex organ is a "bull pissel".

When Trinis hang out, they "liming" and only in Trinidad can you find a "douglah" who is a "shugs"; or eat "farine and zaboca."

You won't find these Trini body parts in any biology book: Tot-tots, bam-bam, bumsee, tun-tun, toonie, pokie, totie, butu and nable"

Two people may get together to make "pakotee" or "zamee" but don't let them catch you eavesdropping because they are sure to call you a "mako".

A physically challenged person is a "brokofoot"; a fat woman is a "boobooloops"; a giddy head is called "bazodee" and if you should fall into a fit of convulsions, you are considered to have "caught Malkadee".

Politically incorrect words of other cultures are words of endearment to fellow Trinis like "Coolie" or "Nigger".  Nicknames are commonly used amongst family, friends and neighbours and usually originate from a trait, habit or preference of the individual.  Some examples are: Rathead, Dr. Rat, Broko, Cheesey, Dazzler, Stinkin' toe, B-Flat, Finny
hand, Yampee, Slim, Stinky, Walking Dead, etc.

For a Trini, every situation or thing has a comparison to be drawn on from his surroundings. Here's how he describes the following:
- The blind: "Blind like a bat".
- Illogical Behavior: "Mad like Mahal".
- A cheapskate: "So cheap, he won't buy a glass of water for free".
- Lowly Behavior: "So low, he could pass under a razor blade".
- Ugliness: "Ugly like sin" or "So ugly de mirror will break."
- Shamelessness: "When God was sharing shame, she went to de toilet".
- Stupidity: "He went to school in August".
- Trust in God: "God doh sleep".
- Karma: "Monkey say, 'cool breeze'".
- A non-happening: "Wen cock get teeth".

A Trini's punctuality is atrocious and is recognized world-wide.  His judgement of time and space is phenomenal - i.e. phenomenally off. Tell him to arrive at eight and for sure he will be there for half past late!  His idea of NOW is 'Here'; LATER is "Tomorrow sometime" and YESTERDAY propels an attack of amnesia.  Ask a Trini when he would
likely finish a project and he will surely reply "just now" or "later". That could mean in a few minutes or years hence.

Likewise, he lacks a sense of dimension in terms of linear measurement.
A tall, overweight person will be described as "tall as a lamp post and wide like a bus".  Distance is another confusing proposition and again linear measurements do not apply.  Somewhere can be reached either by
foot or by some means of transport, other than one's own volition.  Any place that can be reached by foot is "just dey", "not too far" or  "just round de corner".  Street names are hardly committed to memory so there is a tendency to use landmarks as reference points when giving directions.  A typical example of directions given to find Mahase's house in an unfamiliar area will be like this: "Yuh follow dis road 'til yuh reach a standpipe on de right ... Right after de standpipe, yuh go come to ah small dirt road on de right ... yuh pass it and continue straight until yuh get to a next one ... opposite to dat road, yuh will see a big, mako Mango Rose tree ... next to it, is ah nodder trace ... take dat trace and yuh could arkse anybody yuh meet where Mahase living... real easy to find man!"

Another thing about Trinis is that when they talk, they must articulate with their hands and body. Observe two Trinis carrying on a heated discussion and you will understand where the Japanese got their Karate moves. They stab the air with their hands, sometimes pointing up, down, sideways, make circular motions, touch, push, and shake the other party.It is like watching a silent movie with sound.

Trinis have a special gait when walking that have special names too, "bump", "bump and grind", "drag slipper", and "jock waist". Trini women walk with a unique sway of the hips.  However, put her in the spotlight in a sexy new outfit and that sway becomes a "jock waist" ... enough to eroticize any male.

It is said that Trinis love all the "F's"; i.e. Food, Fun, Fete and Fashion.  Their food must be spicy and varied.  Fete must be "long and hard", "'til yuh drop".  Fun, they must have, at work or play. Fashion must be the latest, sexiest and most colorful.

A Trini in love is at his best.  Courting is redefined to an art form and is, literally, a labour of love.  More often than not, the woman will draw the man's attention by "sagashiating" her body.  When she gets his attention, she starts to play "hard to get."  How does the Trini man react?  If he's interested, he starts to "play dead to ketch corbeau alive" all the while checking her out so as not to "buy cat in bag." The courtship ritual could vary and may start by "giving sweeteye", touching, pinching or even throwing pebbles at each other. The latter is called "Tobago Love".  During courtship, several names of endearment are used, for example: "Doods", "Doo-Doo", "Dahlin", "Pumkin", "Sugar", "Shugs", "Sugar-plum", "Sweetie" and even "Toolum".  Oftimes, the love turns sour and so do the names.  She becomes a "jagabat" or a "yardfowl" and he a "peong" or a "hornerman".  A jilted lover who has not got over the relationship is considered to be in a state of "tabanca", which has worsening stages.  Ordinary "tabanca" is bad enough but "tabanca tajari"
is worse and "tabanca najar" is the very worst.  At this last stage the afflicted could end up in "St.Anns".  Some people retaliate to being jilted by resorting to "obeah" to "put a lite" on the ex-lover.

Get a Trini vex.  Well, you better had hide! In spite of his good naturedness, he can get "bad like a crab' and behave like a real "canal conch". The very worse thing you can tell a Trini is something about his natural mother.  Worst of all, if one refers to her sexual organ you in plenty trouble. That place is his Holy of all Holies, his Mecca, his place of Sanctity.  Many acts of violence have resulted in defense of its desecration.  Just the phrase "Yuh Mutha!" could lead to serious blows.  Trinis embrace life with the Spirit of Nature and in this way acknowledge their reverence of God and their fellowman.  If he takes a liking to you, you are sure to know, for it will be reflected in his word and deed.  However, if he chooses to ignore you, well ... "Crapaud smoke yuh pipe!"

Trini Dictionary

Ah                    Substitute for "I"
Allyuh                All of you people. A group
Ax                    Ask. To ask a question
Aye-yah-yie           An expression of anticipation or pain, etc.

Bacchanal             Scandal, heavy quarreling, big party, confusion
Back chat             Insolent response, especially from a child to  an  adult
Bad eye(cut-eye)      A look of anger, especially when looking from  the  corner of the eye
Ba-John               A bully or a really tough customer
Bamsee                The rear end, what you sit on
Bam-se Lambe          Rather attractive bamsee
Bol'face              A pushy person, unreasonably demanding
Broughtupsy           Showing that a person was properly brought up,  decorum
Buh wait nah          But wait a minute, now hold on/it

Callaloo              A thick soup made from dasheen leaves, ochroes,  coconut milk, seasoned to taste,
                                    invariably includes crab
Calypso               A musical and lyrical comment on any subject,  usually composed for, but not
                                    limited to, the Carnival season
Calypsonian           One who sings calypsoes
Cheups(Steups)        A noise made by sucking your teeth
Chinkee               Very tiny portions of anything
Chupid                Stupid
Chupidee              A foolish person
Coki-eye              Cross-eyed
Commesse              Confusion associoated with arguments, gossip  and  slander
Cuff                  Hitting someone or something with a clenched  fist
Cyah                  Can't

Da is you?            Is that you?
Dan-dan               Any sharp looking outfit
Dat good for yuh      Serves you right
Dat                   That
Doh                   Don't
Dotish                Silly, stupid, foolish and dumb
Dougla                Mixture of East Indians and African parentage
Drevait(dree-vay)     Wayward person who likes to "knock about"

Eh                    What did you say?
Eh-eh                 No, no way, oh no
Eh-heh                Oh really? I understand. Yes
En'less               Plenty, endless
Ent?                  Is that not so? That's true, isn't it?


Fall out              To stop speaking with someone or to terminate a friendship
Faddah                Father
Fed up                The state of being bored
Fete                  A party, loud music, lots to eat and drink,  dancing to wee hours of the morning
Flim                  Film
Founkie(foong-key)    Foul-smelling, stink odour
Fuh true/troot?       Yes that is true. Is that really so?

Goin'orf              Someone who appears to be going out of  their  mind, acting strangely
Gun talk              Fighting words, to threaten verbally
Gyul                  Girl

Harden                Disobedient
Hototo(hotoetoe)      A very large amount of anything

I eh payin' tax
 fuh mih mout'         I could say anything I want
In ting               To be involved in current activity
Is so?                Is that so?

Jeez-an-ages          Used for any reason where an outburst is
Jook                  To stab at anything
Jumbie                Spirit, ghost
Jus'now               In a little while
Jus'so?               Just like that?
Jus'so                Out of the blue, totally unexpected

Ketch                 Catch
Klim                  Any brand of powdered milk

Lef dat               Leave that
Leh                   Let, let's
Leh go                Let go
Leh we                Let us
Lick dong             To accidentally hit someone or something
Licks                 A beating, physical punishment
Like t'ing            To be somewhat mischievous
Lil'bit               In small meaningless portions
Lime                  When a small group of people engage in a  sometimes pre- arranged activity
Long eye              A person who is envious of the possessions of  others
Look nuh!             An expression of annoyance

Maco                  A person who minds other people's business for the  >purpose of gossip. To spy on
Macocious             A person having the trait of a maco
Maga                  Very thin, skinny
Mamaguy               To make fun of, to ridicule
Mama Yo!              Expression denoting shock and surprise
Matter Fix            Everything is well organized
Mih han' slip         An expression used when too much of an  ingredient  is used
Mooma                 Mother
Mout'er               A boaster
Much up               To pamper, to butter up

Nah                   No
Nastiness             An expression of disgust applied to a  good-for-nothing person
Never see come see    Someone who has recently been exposed  to  something new and who
                                           overdoes it to  ridiculous proportions
Ning ning             Tired eyes
Now fuh now           Instantly
Nowherian             A person who does not have any fixed place of  abode

Obzokee               Awkward in appearance, anything bent or twisted  out of shape
Oh geed!              An expression used when an offensive smell  arises
OH gosh!-
Oh gorm man!-
Ol' talk              Idle chatter, social chit-chat
One set ah            A lot of anything
Own-way               Stubborn person

Pallet                Frozen lolly
Papa yo!              Exclamation of surprise
Pesh                  Money
Pissin' tail          A person of no class or importance
Planasse              To hit someone continuously with the flat part  of  a cutlass
Playin' social        Someone who pretends to be of a higher social  strata than they are
Pong                  Pound
Po-po                 Very small child, baby
Prim-prim             Disgustingly proper and formal

Quenk                 An irritating person
Qualey                Withered, dried up

Raff                  To grab suddenly
Ragadang              Broken down
Ram-cram              Packed to capacity
Rumfle                Ruffled or wrinkled

Saga boy/girl         Flashy dresser, dandy
Shades                Sunglasses
Shif' yuh carcass     Move over, get going
Shub                  Shove, move or cast aside
Skinnin' yuh teet'    Grinning
Skin up yuh nose      To turn up one's nose at anything
Sometimeish           Moody
Strims                Shrimps
Sweetie               Any confectionary
Swell up yuh face     To look angry, to pout

Tabanca               The forlorn feeling one gets when a love affair is over
Tanty                 Aunt
Tight                 Intoxicated, drunk, stoned
T'ing                 Thing
To besides            Besides which
Too-tool-bay          A confused state,in a daze, also head over  heels  in love
Tot tots              Female breasts

Umpteen               Plenty of anything

Vampin'               An offensive smell
Vaps                  To suddenly behave excitedly or in a strange manner

Wajang                A roudy, uncouth person
Warap                 A very weak mixture
Well yes!             An expression of disbelief
Whappen?              What's the matter with you?
Wha-happenin' dey?    What's happening
Whey                  Where
Whey yuh say?         What did you say


Yampee                Mucus, found in the corner of the eye
You an' all?          You too?
You so                People like you
Yuh faddah head       An expression of annoyance
Yuh faddah is a glassmaker?           You are blocking my view.
Yuh look fuh dat      It's your own fault
Yuh makin' joke!      You can't be serious!

Zug-up                A rough and uneven cutting of anything