Guyana is a land of diverse people – Indians, Africans, Portuguese, Chinese all brought to the Continent by colonial rulers. Needing a way to communicate, the slaves combined their language with the language of the rulers to form an entirely new language called Creolese. Creolese though oringally Dutch based shifted to an English based language (once the English threw the Dutch out) and is infused with words and phrases from various other languages.
A few simple steps will help you convert your English to a more swaggerlicious (stylish) Creolese. Add to this some dreadlocks and you’ll be ready for the Caribbean.
Don’t bother yourself with singular or plurals. They’re all interchangeable. Memorize the word that appeals to you the most in each category and stick with it.
End words with ‘in’ instead of ‘ing’.
Cookin. Talkin. Walkin. Childs play.
Replace ‘th’ with ‘d’. Drop the ‘th’ if this rule is too complicated.
‘The’ becomes ‘de or just ‘e’. Whatever makes you happy.
Insert ‘ah’ at the beginning of your sentence to buy you time to think.
Ah wah dah – what’s that?
Ah whey yuh bin – where’ve you been?
Repeat adjectives for emphasis.
Dis wata de cold cold – This water is very cold.
Replace ‘er’ with ‘a’.
Butter would become butta. You might’ve realized I said ‘wata’ in my last rule. Tricky.
Drop h’s at your own discretion.
Maths would become mats and him would be ‘im. I’ll make no false claims and admit that I’m still in the process of internalizing this rule.
If you’ve gotten this far, the world is your playground. Improvise at will.
‘I told him’ can be
Once you’ve mastered these simple rules, its time to take it to the next level.
|Nah skin yer teet bai!||Don’t laugh boy!|
|Dem ah watch me (this is Guyana’s unofficial National Anthem)||They (neighbors) watch every move of mine and judge me. Mainly because there’s rubbish on TV.|
|Meh de pon de fone||I’m on the phone|
Just when you begin to understand what people are saying, they throw a proverb at you. And…you’re back to hitting your head against an easily accessible hard object.
Everyday buckit a go a well, wan day he battam drap out.
Translates to – everyday the bucket goes to the well, one day the bottom drops out.
Means – Repeated practices (good or bad) will have consequences (good or bad). Did you know that this phrase pops up in Bob Marley’s version of “I shot the sheriff“? Go listen.
Ugly pickney nah gat daddie.
Tranlates to – an ugly child does not have a father.
Means – If something goes wrong, most people will say “it wasn’t me”. In case you’re wondering, this phase is not related to “who’s your daddie.”
Orange yellow but yuh nah know if it sweet.
Translates to – A orange the is yellow isn’t necessarily sweet.
Means – don’t judge everything by appearances.
As with all languages, if you want to sound like Captain Jack Sparrow (substitute your favorite Rasta-man’s name here) there’s only one way – practice, practice, practice!!