Learning the local slang of any region or country is one of my favorite ways to begin to understand a new culture. It helps me to connect with the people who speak it, who always appreciate a foreigner trying to talk like them.
Here in Trinidad, the local dialect is so far reaching and varied that I find myself lost in conversations from time to time, especially when people don’t neutralize their speech patterns for the benefit of the foreigner (me).
So I wanted to write a rudimentary introduction to Trini slang to help a visitor to the island who wants to connect with Trinis on another level as well as to offer a peek into this complex and fascinating expression of the English language.
This project was too large for me to take on alone, even though this guide contains just 21 words and phrases, so I enlisted the help of my 14-year-old cousin whose Facebook status updates make me go “Wtf?” – or should I say, “What the ass?”
- Gunta – Gangster; as in He lookin rell gunta. This would refer to someone in a fitted hat, flashy jewelry, gold teeth, and Clarks (see video above).
- Are you getting through? – Upon entering a clothing store or other type of retailer, you’ll likely hear this phrase which means “Do you need any help?”
- Wuz de scene? – This is a greeting similar to “What’s up?” The question might be met with a response like I normal, meaning, “I’m fine.”
- Hoss/Dan – Pronounced like the word horse, this word refers to a close friend. An example of this phrase is Wuz de scene hoss? This is like the American phrase “What up homie?”
- Lime – One of the more trademark phrases in the Trini English language, lime is a versatile word that is used as both a noun and a verb. In its noun form, it means “get-together”: I’m having a lime tonight. As a verb, it means “hang out” – “We limin on the avenue.”
- Rell – Real, as in He rell funny boy. The word can be elongated or accented to add emphasis.
- For true? – “For real” or “seriously”; as in Person A: My cousin’s child fadda is Drake Person B: For true?!
- Ting – A way of saying thing, which is used as an addition to a sentence like I was in the party and I was dancing and ting.
- Yuh understand? – A sign of agreeance. Person A: Groceries are rell expensive these days. Person B: Yeah, yuh understand?
- Oh geed/gyad! – A sign of disgust or distaste; Person A: That toothless old man was checkin yuh. Person B: Oh geed!!!
- Eh eh – Sign of exclamation; Eh eh look who here!
- He/she – Used instead of his or her; She bring she child.
- Bess ting – An attractive person or object; He a rell bess ting boy.
- Reach – Arrive; Yuh reach yet?
- What de ass? or What de jail? – What the hell?; What de ass is this?
- I gone – I’m leaving now.
- Ent – Another versatile phrase that means “right?” or used as an affirmation. It can be compared to the Canadian “eh?” Everybody going ent?
- Yuh dun know – Definitely; of course; Person A: Eh you going to that party? Person B: Yuh dun know!
- Yuh seein dat – Obviously!; Person A: Yuh lookin fresh! Person B: But yuh seein dat!
- Awa – or what; Yuh goin awa?
- Gallis – a lady’s man; player; Her cousin is a rell gallis.
What country or region is your favorite slang spoken in? Share your thoughts here.