Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How The Words "Chune", "Choon" & "Tune" Are Used In Comments About Caribbean Music

Edited by Azizi Powell

The words "chune" and "choon" were unfamiliar to me when I first came across them on YouTube Caribbean music video comment threads. Since then I've gathered that "chune" and "choon" are a form of the word "tune". I've also learned that the word "chune" is a way of pronouncing "tune" that isn't unique to Trinidad, Jamaica, and other English speaking Caribbean countries. Indeed, the word "chune" may have originated in Great Britain. That pronunciation of the word "tune" is still used in Ireland, and in other parts of Britain. And, it also appears from my reading (but not my personal interactions or my television/radio experiences) that "chune" as a pronunciation of the word "tune" is also found in some parts of the United States. And, presumably, the word "chune" and/or that pronuciation of the word "tune" is also found in some other English speaking nations.

From my online reading I've also learned that in those nations where the word "chune" is found (including in English speaking Caribbean nations), that word and "choon" rhyme with the English words "dune" and "moon". [Read my comment below about another pronunciation of the word "tune"].

Here's something else I've learned from reading YouTube comment threads of certain Calypso, Reggae, and Dancehall soundfiles & videos and from reading some other online articles about the word "tune" : the definition for the word "tune" (regardless of how it is spelled or pronounced) is different in the Caribbean than it is in other English language nations. [Hyperlinks for some of these articles are found in the comment section below along with an excerpt of one of those articles.]

In non-Caribbean nations, the word "tune" refers to the melody of a song. However, in contemporary Caribbean English patois, "riddim" and not "tune" is the word that refers to a song's melody. In English speaking Caribbean cultures the words "tune", "chune", and "choon" refer to both a song's melody (riddim) and a song's lyrics. In that sense, in Caribbean patois, the words "tune", "chune", and "choon" mean the entire song.

But in Caribbean patois "tune", "chune", and "choon" mean more than just the word "song". That is particularly so when the spelling of those words is elongated by repeating letters and/or when multiple exclamation marks are added after those words. In those cases, "tune", "chune", and "choon" mean "a great song" and/or "a hit song" [a song that was and maybe still is hugely popular], and/or "a person's favorite song".

One frequent custom that I've noticed is for YouTube commenters on certain Caribbean music threads to write the word "chune" or "choon" or "tune" as a single word that is spelled with multiple added vowels or consonents. Frequently multiple exclamation marks are written along that spelling of "tune", "chune", or "choon", or along with the standard spelling of those words. In all of these cases, the word "tune", or "chune", or "choon" takes on an added meaning that is the same as (but it seems to me to be more intense than) the American English colloquial sentence "That song is a golden oldie" or the African American derived sentence "That's my jam!" However, I've never seen or heard the single word "jam" or "song" or the words "golden oldie" (or its more contemporary form "old school jam") used the same way that those single Caribbean patois words are used. Nor have I ever seen the words "jam" or "song" etc. spelled in the same elongated fashion. For instance, I've never seen these exclamations on any American music forum: "Jaaaam!" or "Sooooonggg!!!" or "Golden Oldie!". Nor have I ever heard those words used like.

Here's another point that I want to make about this subject - It seems to me (admittedly from the outside looking in as I'm an African American who is of Afro-Caribbean descent on my maternal side but have no first hand knowledge of Caribbean culture) that if "tune", "chune", and "choon" always meant "a great song", "a very popular song", and/or "a song that you really like", it would be redundant to preface those words with adjectives such as "big" and "massive". Yet, there are numerous comments on those Caribbean music threads* indicating that the sound file or video is a "big tune" (or "chune" or "choon") or a "massive tune" (or "chune" or "choon".)

As to which of these words are used more frequently on Caribbean music comment threads than the others, I think that more commenters use the word "tune" in these word than those who use the words "chune" or "choon". And it seems to me that the second most frequently used form of the word "tune" is "chune".

It also seems to me that the word "chune" and "choon" are particularly on comment threads for YouTube Dancehall music videos more than other Caribbean music videos. But I'm not sure of that

Here are fifteen selected examples of how "tune", "chune", and "choon" are used in comment thread of three Caribbean songs. I have featured each of those sound files in previous posts on this blog. The links to those posts as well as links to several online articles about the meaning of "riddim", "tune and chune" (in Britain & the United States) are found in the Related links section below.

These examples are presented in no particular order and are numbered for possible reference use only.

1. "Yes star! Dis chune sound good, mates! Dee music light up me feace. Me can easily pleay dis melody pon me keyboard. Dis week, ah gwan pleay dis melody pon me keyboard, mon. ;)"
- jtmsmooth072088, 2012
Lord Nelson - King Liar [hereafter given as "King Liar"]

2. "Calypso in trouble. You think any one of them singing calypso these days could sing a tune like this?"
-Sham9909, 2012[hereafter known as "Ram Goat Liver"]

3. "thesewere the days when nuff tune after tune after tune was bigbig mash up the dance tune's true!!!"
-herbert boone, 2009[hereafter known as "Winey Winey"]

miahdibes3, 2010, ["Ram Goat Liver"]

daroyalgeneral, 2010 [Winey Winey]

6. "Big Choon! Winey Winey"
-RAPTIMESTV, 2008 ["Winey Winey"]

7. "Massive choon Winey Winey"
-sistagirl1234, 2008 ["Winey Winey"]

8. "Dont show him no man my tailor is class. just show him the corner weh the fella pass..!! and he gon mek a suit.!!!!! that is lie... TUNE..!!!!!"
ruminni rogers, 2012 ["King Liar"]

9. "Winey....Winey....Winey...2 much..........bubblah chooooooooooon
-Goodaaz1, 2010 ["Winey Winey"]

10. "teacher percy say if yuh tell ah lie yuh going to hell as soon as yuh die"!! Big Tune!"
-BajjaLion1, 2010 [King Liar]

11. "BIG BIG BIG Chune, Kaiso boy. One of the best ever recorded kaiso."
-therookiemusic, 2012 ["King Liar"]

12. "biggest tuneeeeeeeeeeeeee ever remember this when i was a kid"
-izel wee, 2012 ["King Liar"]

13. "Great great tune"
Atlanta rex, 2013 ["King Liar"]

14. "the fish your father caught to you it was great, but is them small fish meh father does use for bait..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!­!!! yuh hear lie... das is lie haha TUNE..!!!"
-SxmJuniorCalypsoKing, 2010 "["King Liar"]

15."I grew up with tune like this in Guyana...29 years later and it still booming. Best song ever!!
-lowKut, 2012 ["Ram Goat Liver"]

Pancocojams Posts: "Pluto Shervington - Ram Goat Liver" "Lord Nelson - King Liar (Calypso sound file, lyrics, comments)" "Shabba Ranks - Peany Peany (Winey Winey) with partial lyrics & comments"

Other Internet Links "If I pronounce "tune" as "choon", will this seem odd?"
"Do British people really pronounce Tunes as Chunes? #1" "Pronunciation of "tunes" in UK and N. America"

Thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Thanks to all those who I quoted in this post.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric and educational purposes. I published this post because I'm interested in the Caribbean use of the words "tune", "chune", and "choon" and to date I've not found any online posts about those words. If you know of such posts, please share those links.

Corrections, additions, and comments about this post are welcome.


  1. I should also have mentioned that some commenters in the the "other related links" given above indicate that "tyoons" is another pronunciation for the word "tune" in Great Britain, and the United States, Australia (and presumably in some other English speaking nations although no Caribbean nation was cited by those commenters.)

    Here are three comments from one of those internet sources that I cited above:
    discussion topic:Pronunciation of "tunes" in UK and N. America

    Rick Johnson Fri Dec 07, 2007 9:41 pm GMT
    "I have noticed that pronunciation varies throughout England and the USA. I personally pronounce the word as "tyoons" as the majority of English do ,whereas I would say in General American "toons" is the more common pronunciation"...

    Josh Lalonde Fri Dec 07, 2007 9:57 pm GMT
    "There are two other possibilities. You've probably heard people who say "choon" /tSu:n/ as well (Londoners, Australians), which is known as yod-coalescence. There are also some varieties scattered throughout the English-speaking world (Wales, Northern England, Southern US) that preserve the earlier diphthong /Iu/ in these words.

    Other than those exceptions, "toon" /tun/ predominates in the US, and "tyoon" /tju:n/ in England .

    I'm from Ottawa, Canada, and I say [t1un]."

    Milton Sat Dec 08, 2007 12:44 am GMT
    "IN uk, TUNES is, nowadays, pronounced like CHOONS, not like TYOONS (which is very formal-sounding to most British speakers)"...

    Jasper Sat Dec 08, 2007 5:59 pm GMT
    "When I grew up in Eastern TN* in the 60s, the pronunciation of "tunes" depended upon social class; the middle & upper classes used "tooons", while the hillbillies used "tyooons".

    To this day, I find it amusing that the most uppercrust British English, viz., Received Pronunciation, pronounces "tunes" the exact same way as the rankest hillbilly"...
    Editor: TN is an abbreviation for Tennessee, a Southern state.

    For what it's worth, I've never heard the word "tune" pronounced "tyoon" during conversations or on local or national television. (I live and have lived in the Eastern region of the United States [New Jersey and in Pennsylvania, although I suppose that Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania could be considered almost the mid-West).

    Also, as an aside it's kinda humorous that the word "rankest" means "lowest" in the last quoted comment above that refers to hillbillies. However, "ranks" and "rankin" in Jamaica patois means "someone of high esteem" if not "someone of the highest esteem". Hence "ranks" is used as the last name in a number of Dancehall artists' stage names, for instance Shabba Ranks, Nardo Ranks, Cutty Ranks...

  2. While I've never heard the word "chune" used in the United States, I did come across it in this example of a song from Thomas W. Talley's now classic 1922 collection of Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise And Otherwise:


    Hush boys! Hush boys! Don't make a noise,
    While ole Mosser's sleepin'.
    We'll run down de Graveyard, an' take out de bones,
    An' have a liddle Banjer pickin'.

    I takes my Banjer on a Sunday mornin'.
    Dem ladies, dey 'vites me to come.
    We slips down de hill an' picks de liddle chune:
    "Walk, Tom Wilson Here Afternoon."

    "Walk Tom Wilson Here Afternoon";
    "You Cain't Dance Lak ole Zipp Coon."
    Pick "Dinah's Dinner Ho'n" "Dance 'Round de Room."
    "Sweep dat Kittle Wid a Bran' New Broom."
    [Pg 21]
    Talley notes that these are names of songs, some of which are included in his collection.

    As used in this example I think that the word "chunes" means the way the song is played -its melody- and not the song's sound & lyrics. But on second thought a musician can sing the words to the song as well while playing it. So "chunes" here could also mean "song".

    I don't beleive that Talley includes any other example with the word "chunes". But since [I've read that] "chunes" is a pronunciation of the word "tune" that was & is found in the American South, it would stand to reason that some Black Americans in the South used [and still use] that pronuciation.

    However, I'm not sure how widespread that pronunciation was or is in the American South or in any other region of the United States.

    Also, for the record [no pun intended], I'm not sure how old the spelling and the pronunications of "chune and "choon" are in the Caribbean or how widespread those words are in Caribbean nations.

    1. Here's a correction to my previous comment:

      Here's another example from Thomas Talley's 1922 collection Negro Folk Rhymes of the word "tune" being spelled "chune":

      "MY FIDDLE

      If my ole fiddle wus jes in chune,
      She'd bring me a dollar ev'y Friday night in June.
      W'en my ole fiddle is fixed up right,
      She bring me a dollar in nearly ev'y night.
      W'en my ole fiddle begin to sing,
      She make de whole plantation ring.
      She bring me in a dollar an' sometime mō'.
      Hurrah fer my ole fiddle an' bow!

      p. 39

      "Chune" is clearly used as a verb in that example and that word clearly is pronounced to rhyme with the word "June".

  3. you forgot .... "Eeeeeeediat Chune " !! :)

    1. Thanks for that addition, Junior Rodigan.

      Does "Eeeeeeediat Chune " mean "Idiot tune"? And is that something good or bad (not good)?