Bajanisms Deciphered

As promised – I will decipher the Bajanisms I wrote about in my Independence post.  Hope you all have a good laugh!

  • Bajanism #1: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know who Joe Monkey is…and when to look fuh he. (Used when there’s nothing to eat –  you are told to  ‘eat joe monkey’ when you are extremely hungry but there’s nothing to eat.)
  • Bajanism #2: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know that the “Days” does start at 6pm. (In Barbados, the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” has been showing for YEARS at 6 pm.  We are about 16 years BEHIND the current version of Days that shows in the States, but no one can interrupt the hundreds of Bajans who religiously follow the show.  In fact, in many households, calling on the phone beteween 6 and 7 pm is strictly PROHIBITED! 😆 )
  • Bajanism #3: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh does lower up de T.V. (Raise the TV volume.)
  • Bajanism #4: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know de word “quiet” has one syllable and “worm” has two.

eg 1 “Boy try and keep quet!!”
eg 2 “Looka da Christmas wur-urm.”

(I’d have to attach a sound bite for you to hear how these sound, but they’re basically spelt phonetically above…)

  • Bajanism #5: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when every thing from yuh hip down to yuh toes is your “foot”.
  • Bajanism #6: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know ’bout Tam’brin balls and Sucka-bubbies (Sweets …  Tam’brin is how it’s pronounced, but they are balls of tamarind and sugar; suckabubbies are basically KoolAid in a small plastic bag that is frozen solid,  to use them children bite away a corner and suck the juices through the ‘teat’ that is so created!)
  • Bajanism #7: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know that bakes get fried. (bakes are flat pieces of flour and sugar that are fried golden brown; usually eaten with fishcakes (salted fish balls))
  • Bajanism #8: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know de word “France” can be used as an expletive.  (Telling someone ‘Go to France! is a common ‘swear’ word in Barbados – dates back to the days when we were colonized by the British and in solidarity with our British sovereign during one of the wars, sending someone to ‘France’ was worse than sending them to hell, because Britain was at war with France at the time.)
  • Bajanism #9: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know dat “Cheese on bread” could be a meal, or an expression of frustration. (Usually drawn out – cheeeeeeze on bread, man!!!!!!  – when used in frustration!)
  • Bajanism #10: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know dat yuh does “Keep” noise as opposed to “Make” noise.  (You tell children to ‘keep less noise’ when they’re making a lot of noise… I don’t know, I don’t understand it either…. 😆 )
  • Bajanism #11: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know how to stupse. (How do I explain this? Also called ‘sucking teeth’, it’s also a sound of frustration or anger – the teeth are clenched together and air is forcibly sucked in between them while the lips pursed together.  Again, I’ll try to get some sound bites.)
  • Bajanism #12: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know bout Sun-duh lunch. (yup. it’s Sunday lunch – in Barbados this is traditionally a feast: rice and peas (usually split peas or field peas), baked chicken, coleslaw, tossed salad, potato salad and macaroni pie (which is Bajanised macaroni & cheese which is baked in the oven.))
  • Bajanism #13: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know dat “Cuttin’ yuh eyes”, “Cuttin’ yuh tail” and “Yuh belly cuttin” aint got nutten to do with scissors, knives or any sharp objects.  (‘Cutting your eyes’ is when you look at someone disrespectfully, usually by squinting ur eyes at them and looking them up and down in scorn; ‘belly cutting’ is the sensation you feel when you really need to go to the bathroom or you have stomachache (called ‘bad feels’) and ‘Cutting yuh tail’ is getting lashes on the behind specifically.)
  • Bajanism #14: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when locations in your house include de veranda, de gallery (both euphenisms for the front porch) and de front house (the ‘front of the house’: the living room or family room.)
  • Bajanism #15: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when you give bad directions. “Guh down past de gas station an’ swing up…” (Bajans are notorious for giving bad directions – you will hear things like, “go straight till u see the third gap on the left – by Mrs Brown cow… DON’T TURN THERE! – Keep going straight straight till you pass a rum shop with a sheep in the front…”)
  • Bajanism #16: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know dat “up de road” and “down de road” could be the same direction. (As before, Bajans are notorious for bad directions – up and down are directions like left and right … and what makes it even MORE confusing is that depending on which side of the island you start from, the ‘up’ and ‘down’ are actually reversed, hence they could actually be the same direction!  The ‘up’ and ‘down’ are relative to the direction you are heading toward or away from the capital city, Bridgetown.)
  • Bajanism #17: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know dat the phrase “My man” can be directed at males other than your husband or boyfriend. (‘My man’ can be directed at any male you are speaking to, especially if you think he’s an idiot… ‘my man, (tone of sarcasm) I telling yuh (you)  dat (that) yuh  (you) ent (don’t) know what yuh (you) talking ’bout! (about)’)
  • Bajanism #18: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know yuh hair does bite yuh sometimes. (scalp itching is called a hair bite.)
  • Bajanism #19: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when yuh know dat yuh pooch AINT your dog. (That’s a Bajan term for your … um.. posterior. 😆 )
  • Bajanism # 20: Yuh know yuh is a Bajan when ‘boxy’ isn’t a description of a box-like shape. (That’s also a term for your butt.  It is spelled phonetically above, but is usually spelled ‘botsey’ when written out.)

Bajan is a very onomatopoeic language – you would hear about bruggadung (or bruggadown) which is the sound something makes when it falls hard;  many people chant ‘bup! bup! brax!’  when excited (this mimics a gun salute.)

I hope that these  Bajanisms made you laugh and, now that you’ve seen the meanings, given you a glimpse into my culture!  All in fun!

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12 Responses

  1. That was so incredibly interesting to read. Especially when you gave the cultural frame around these idioms!

    I can’t believe y’all are 16 years behind on “Days” — fantastic!! I wonder how that influences the clothing/hair styles.

    • “I can’t believe y’all are 16 years behind on “Days” — fantastic!! I wonder how that influences the clothing/hair styles.”

      It doesn’t .. we’re much too Americanized for that 😀 We’re up to date in our fashion etc, but we watch “Days” and we’re like, ppl used to DRESS like that in 1997?” LOLOLOL

  2. SO glad to hear you aren’t influenced by those bad fashions. hahahahaa!! I’d be the same way if watching The Days now. Isn’t is scary to know how fashion changes so much?

  3. “Wooohoooo this is interesting for sure # 13 got me cracking up not down!! Sun-duh lunch sounds so good yum!!! Thanks for sharing I tell ya I really enjoyed this!!! 😀 😀

    • Thanks so much Pat 🙂 Glad you’re becoming a regular 🙂

      *Big hug*

      ROFL I know, right … we have so many more quaint sayings. I’ll see if I can drum up another post soon 🙂

  4. OMG!!! I can hear my Father or any of my other relatives inall of these expression…

    • Glad you liked ’em, Cheryl 😀 Welcome to the Hand of God! Check out the archives – there’s some great stuff in there… and come back often!

      So you came from Bajan parentage, huh? Have you ever visited Barbados? 🙂

      • My father is from Paris Hill… I kept wanting to say Gun Hill but that was were my Great-Aunt was from.

  5. Okay, yeah. I think I sorta got one right. Lol. Fun!

  6. Can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed your hysterical series on Bajan culture. Sounds like you folks are having alot more fun than we are. Americans take everything too darn seriously. Except watching soaps!! Great post!

    Glad we’re friends, Rob. Merry Christmas to you and your family. ; )

    • Well I’m glad to have made you laugh out loud (or as we Bajans would say, cackle out!) I’m glad we’re friends too .. and I don’t know where I would have been this year without my internet friends.

      ((((((((((HUGS)))))))))

  7. […] Comments bajanpoet on Bajanisms DecipheredLinda on Bajanisms Decipheredbajanpoet on Happy Independence, Barba…Cheryl on Happy […]

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