Edited by Azizi Powell
This post is provides a list of seventeen clean [non-vulgar] Caribbean Patois [pronounced "patwa"] words or phrases that are found in the viewer comment thread for a video interview of Calypsonian Mighty Sparrow. That video which is found below also includes a film clip of Mighty Sparrow's performance of his hit song "Jean & Dinah".
Examples of comments that include those featured words & phrases are listed in this post along with what I think are the meanings of the words & phrases as used in the context of those comments. I've also included what I think is the standard American English "translation" for some of those selected comments.
Those examples also includes Patois grammatical constructs, although no editorial comments about that grammar is included.
MY COMMENT ABOUT YOUTUBE VIDEO VIEWER COMMENT THREADS IN GENERAL
Many YouTube comment threads include profanity, explicit sexual language, and other content that may be inappropriate. None of that content is included in the examples that are featured in this post.
Although I'm mindful that many YouTube viewer comment threads include profanity, racist comments, and other content that is very problematic, I find other comments in YouTube video comment threads to be interesting and/or informative. I also believe that some YouTube comments are worthy of archiving in & of themselves as documentation of the use of particular forms of vernacular language.
MY COMMENT ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR YOUTUBE COMMENT THREAD
I believe that this comment thread about a Mighty Sparrow video includes older and newer forms of Caribbean Patois. For example, I believe that "pickney" [meaning "child" is an example of an old Caribbean Patois word and "soundbwoy" ["soundboy"] is an example of a new Caribbean Patois word.
These selected comments also contain examples of internet/texting writing such as the abbreviated words "ppl" [people] and "tnt" [Trinidad], and the acronyms "lol" and "lmao". Other examples of internet/text writing that are found in some of these featured comments are the lack of or very capitalization and punctuation which resulted in run on sentences and words with added vowels (indicating enthuiasm or intensity, for example "tuneeeeee".)
I don't consider myself an etymologist, but I am interested in the origin, meaning, and uses of words & phrases. I'm not from the Caribbean -although my maternal grandfather was from Tobago & my maternal grandmother was from Barbados.
The definitions that I've included in this post come from online sites such as http://niceup.com/patois.html "Rasta/Patois Dictionary" and http://www.bigdrumnation.org/dictionary_link.htm and from other online sites. An excerpt from one of those websites is included as an Addendum to this post.
Some of these definitions and sentence "translations" are my GUESSES about what the featured words & phrases mean in the context of those featured comments.
I'm publishing this post in the hope that people from the Caribbean will take the opportunity presented in YouTube music video viewer comment threads and elsewhere on the internet to help inform those of us who aren’t from that region about the meanings of these & other Caribbean words & phrases. Furthermore, I'm publishing this post in the hope that some readers will respond to the questions that came to me about certain words & phrases as a result of reading that video's viewer comment thread.
The opinions given in these comment represent the opinions of their authors and may not be the same opinions that I hold.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/11/mighty-sparrow-yankees-gone-jean-dinah.html for a post that includes two sound files, information, and comments about Mighty Sparrow and his now classic Calypso "Yankee Gone" (better known as "Jean And Dinah".
All copyrights remain with their owners.
FEATURED VIDEO: Mighty Sparrow - Jean & Dinah
IsDePanInMe, Uploaded on Nov 17, 2007
The King tells the story of how the song developed and performs this vintage street classic from his bad boy days.
EXAMPLES OF CARIBBEAN PATOIS FROM THIS FEATURED VIDEO
From the Mighty Sparrow "Jean & Dinah" video viewer comment thread http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gso_y-Bqybc
1. BADMAN [noun] = a gangster, but also an adjective, when used in the context of the comment given below, something that is illegal, criminal
Vynnette Frederick, 2009
“Is this the real story coming from Sparrow...I heard from someone who was there when he performed the song for the first time that the song belonged to someone else who happened to be in jail with sparrow at the time who was jailed for badman ting at the time...and the song was being sung inside and because sparrow was the first one to get out of the jail, he sang the song...jean and dinah were real prostitutes....is this correct?”
This same comment is used for the entry for "ting" [thing] that is given below.
2. BAM BAM [verb] in the context of the comment below means to have sex or [noun] meaning prostitute
"tell dem they moder bam bam, real chupidy!"
moder = mother
I believe that the standard American English form of this sentence is "Telling them that their mothers are prostitutes is an act of real stupidity."
"Bam Bam riddim" is a popular dancehall Reggae rhythm. Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/11/dancehall-reggae-bam-bam-riddim.html for a pancocojams post that provides examples of that riddim. In the context of that usage "bam bam" is an adjective that may mean something like "sensual" or "sexual".
It may be coincidental that the word "bam bam" as it relates to sex sound likes the American rhyming saying "Wham* bam. Thank you mam'" which means a "quickie" sexual experience.
*or "Slam" bam. Thank you mam".
In the Addendum below, a Nigerian commenter shared that "bam bam" is one of many dual words in Jamaican Patois that originated from the Nigerian Yoruba language. That commenter indicated that in Yoruba "bam bam" means "complete".
Undoubtedly, a different meaning was given to that word in Jamaican Patois, although ideally the sex act can be considered completing people.
3. BOY [noun]
a. I think that this word is used similarly to how African Americans use “man” or “dude” or "people"
"1 of de greatest calypsos off all time boy
b. vernacular phrase “you know” [? I'm really unsure about this meaning.]
Shivanandan Maharaj, 2012
“it have some seriously confused people here boy weyyyy sah
“It” here means this video’s viewer comment thread.
What does "weyyyy sah" mean? Does it mean something like "Yes indeed? (Yes sir)?
"Bwoy" is a contemporary way of saying "boy". Read more about compound forms of that word in the entry "soundbwoy" giveen below.
4. DA [definitive article = the]
Father Divin3, 2010
[in reply to njreyes]
"you are so dumb....kiso/calypso n soca is da beat of the entre W.I. and all man derived from africa you clown...Sparrow was GReenz born n bred then trini raised and tuned him...if you knew anything at all trini n grenada are adjacent thats why the mix up is so common..but hey njreyes MR.TNT if you feel you bad so goto to trini wit yuh gold chain on n bracelte and lemme see you make it out da airport alive....GReenz Stand UP TRini HOld WE Hand...One People One Nation"
I'm curious about the word "GReenz" for "a person from Grenada". Is this word used colloquially as "Trini" is used to mean "a person for Trinidad [and I think also from Tobabo, but I'm not sure about that.]
Also, I'm interested in the use of the word "tuned", which in the context of that comment I believe means "schooled (taught, inculcated) in music (forms and aesthetics). I know that the word "tune" is widely used in the Caribbean, but is the word "tuned" also colloquially used or was it just made up by this commenter?
5. DE [definite article] = the
"1 of de greatest calypsos off all time boy"
6. DEH [adverb] = "there"*
"he born deh but he go a trinidad from he a small pickney how he go get grenada accent?"
This same comment is also used as an example of a comment in that discussion thread for the word "pickney".
Read the Addendum below about the meaning of "deh" in Nigerian English Pidgin and Jamaican Patois.
7. DEM [pronoun] a. them; those, they're
"your the one that wants to check history and work out after africa where most of you trini peps come out well the real black ones like trevor mac d. grenada has got your rootstha dont include dem indian and dem creole one dem."
I think that "dem indian and dem creole one dem" means the Indians [them Indians], the Creoles [the Creeoles], everyone of them.
And I think the Standard American English form of that comment is:
"You’re the one that needs to study your history and realize that the Trinidadian people who contributed the most to that nation-the people who are the core of the nation- are those who are unmixed Black people like Trevor Mac d. Grenada has the same roots as Trinidad but that nation doesn’t include as many people who are Indian or Creoles [people who are racially mixed] as Trinidad does."
Is that "translation" correct?
[expletive deleted]....I hear yuh badjohn....is a sad state...and we artiste dem so talented....i was in berlin 2010 and they had carnival dey....kmc performed and do rel damage..."
I think that the Standard American "translation" of this comment is:
"I understand what you are saying badjohn... It's a sad state of affairs... And our artists are so talented...I was in Berlin [Germany] and they had a carnival day [event.] Kmc performed and he [or they] did really well...."
8. DIS [definite article] = this
“boy dis one my faves...ven tho i ain understnd wha he meant as a child hahaaaaaaaaaaa!!”
“Faves” =favorites. I wonder if this is a a newer form of Patois that is influenced by Hip Hop African American Vernacular English
The elongated word "ha ha" is an example of internet/text writing.
9. FEELS TO GET SMART WITH ME [phrase]
Meaning = wants to challenge what I've said
“In regards to my comment, just in case anyone feels to get smart with me, I mean that if there was no Trinidad, then the Sparrow everyone knows and loves would not have come to be. It is entirely possible that he could have gone somewhere else as a youth and become great at another style of music.”
10. KAISO [noun] = calypso
"Thanks so much. The kaiso is easy to find but this commentary is great."
11.PICKNEY [noun] = child
"he born deh but he go a trinidad from he a small pickney how he go get grenada accent?"
"Pickney" developed from the same root word as "pickaninny" in USA. However, "pickney," doesn’t have the same derogatory connotations in the Caribbean as it does in the United States.
"Pickaninny (also picaninny or piccaninny) is a term in English which refers to children of black descent or a racial caricature thereof. It is a pidgin word form, which may be derived from the Portuguese pequenino (an affectionate term derived from pequeno, "little")...At one time the word may have been used as a term of affection, but it is now considered derogatory."
12. SOUNDBWOY [noun] = sound boy
"Term [soundboy] originated in jamaican reggae/dancehall scene.
During a soundclash, the opposing soundsystems will often refer to their competitor as a soundboy. Which basically means a sound which is young in scene, has no experience, lacks skills, or just plays bad music. The term is most often used just to show disrespect to the opposing sound.
Soundboy run away, when the champion a play.
-by fyah June 17, 2010
screen name in this video's viewer comment thread:
I think that some people [perhaps the person who chose this screen name] believe that "soundboy" is the equivalent of Reggae music DJ.
"Bwoy" is a contemporary way of spelling "boy". That same spelling for "boy" is found in Hip Hop African American Vernacular English. I don't know if that spelling originated in the Caribbean and then found its way to Hip Hop culture or vice versa.
"Rudeboy"("Rudebwoy") is another Jamaican compound word that includes the word "bwoy". Here's an entry from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=rudeboy about that word:
"1. An avid listener of ska music, especially that of "traditional" and "2-tone" waves of ska.
2. A "gangster" (not to be confused with a "gangstah") usually dressed in a suit and "gangster hat" or bowler; a trouble maker of the 1960's-1980's. (often British "gangsters").
3. The original definition, Jamaican gangsters, boys who caused trouble and were known as "rude" because of their attitudes.
1. Check out that rudeboy skank to the ska music!
2. Wow that rudeboy has some really slick gangster clothes, I want a hat like that!
3. That rudeboy down the street was just arrested again!"
-Aquacadet Matt February 07, 2004
I wonder if the "rude" in "rudeboy" originally came from its British English verncaular meaning where "rude" songs or rhymes mean "bawdy" (nasty, salacious) songs or rhymes. Could this meaning have come from the fact taht those types of songs & rhymes were troubling to "polite" society because of their salacious content? Then "troubling" was expanded to "causing trouble", i.e. "gangsters"?
13. TING [noun] = thing
Read the comment example found under "Badman".
I'm respectfully curious about why it appears that many people from the Caribbean have difficulty pronouncing "th". I've found yet found any commentary about that online. Would anyone care to respond to this question?
14. TRINI [noun] = people from Trinidad and Tobago
Comment [and screen name]
"All of you folks need to look up Bomber's United Stated of the West Indies. Or listen to Rudder's Rally 'round the West Indies. As if it's not bad enough that we have to deal with folks outside the islands bad talking us. No no. We feel to compound the problem by bad talking each other. Just compromise. No Grenada, no Sparrow because he wouldn't have been born. No Trinidad, no Sparrow because he wouldn't have had the Trini influences. Simple as that. Gosh."
"yes its true.... I never notice our accent until I moved to Canada and really heard our Trini accent. well if you like this one, u might like kitchener and look up "curry tabanca".. very very old tune, but it was huge back then!!!"
Here's a comment from that viewer comment thread that includes an even newer contemporary referent for people from Trinidad & Tobago:
"we are not people that come from one nation... learn your region properly... the caribbean is not an african nation & is not made up only of people with ancestors from africa... trinidad is the home of kiso/soca but it is a caribbean style & a caribbean flavor... we are not africans or indian or whatever else... we are Trinbagonians (Trinidad & Tobago people) multi cultural mixed people"
15. TUNE [noun] = song [both the words & the melody]
“i luv dis old tune bringin back memories”
"Hear [expletive deleted] tuneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
The addition of multiple vowels connotes enthusiasm. [The commenter really likes this tune].
16. YUH [pronoun] = you
"@Badjohn007 yuh don know and it really sad when yuh think bout it...Ah now listening some tunes from the 80`s and dem was styles....plus yuh have them older tunes from the 60`s and 70`s."
17. WE [pronoun] = our
"[expletive deleted]....I hear yuh badjohn....i like hearing bout the history ah we music man,....i doh understand we trinis"
From http://www.nairaland.com/1061872/thread-fi-jamaican-patois "A Thread Fi Jamaican Patois! - Culture - Nairaland" Rudebwoy(m): 6:41pm On Sep 30, 2012
"The presence of repetitious phrases in Jamaican Creole such as "su-su" (gossip) and "pyaa-pyaa" (sickly) mirror the presence of such phrases in West African languages such as "bam-bam", which means "complete" in the Yoruba language. Repetitious phrases are also present in Nigerian Pidgin, such as, "koro-koro", meaning "clear vision", "yama-yama", meaning "disgusting", and "doti-doti", meaning "garbage".
Furthermore, the use of the words of West African origin in Jamaican Patois, such as "boasie" (meaning proud, a word that comes from the Yoruba word "bosi" also meaning "proud" and "Unu" - Jamaican Patois or "Wuna" - West African Pidgin (meaning "you people", a word that comes from the Igbo word "unu" also meaning "you people" display some of the interesting similarities between the English pidgins and creoles of West Africa and the English pidgins and creoles of the West Indies, as does the presence of words and phrases that are identical in the languages on both sides of the Atlantic, such as "Me a go tell dem" (I'm going to tell them) and "make we" (let us). Use of the word "deh" or "dey" is found in both Jamaican Patois and Nigerian Pidgin English, and is used in place of the English word "is" or "are". The phrase "We dey foh London" would be understood by both a speaker of Patois and a speaker of Nigerian Pidgin to mean "We are in London". Other similarities, such as "pikin" (Nigerian Pidgin for "child" and "pikney" (or "pikiny", Jamaican Patois for "child" and "chook" (Nigerian Pidgin for "poke" or "stab" which corresponds with the Jamaican Patois word "jook", further demonstrate the linguistic relationship."
Thanks to The Mighty Sparrow of this video and thanks to all those who I have quoted in this post.
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