Though English is spoken on many Caribbean islands, the word on the street is often a heady mix of French, English, Spanish, Dutch and African languages resulting in a colourful dialect that reveals the region's rich heritage and history but leaves visitors at a loss for words.
Illustrations by Joanna Austin.
Here are a few choice phrases to help decipher the indecipherable, so that when you are asked, “Wa gwan?” You can reply, “All tings criss.” Just like a local.
Translation: What is going on?
Translation: All good.
Translation: Who are your parents?
Translation: Bad things happen without warning.
Translation: You have no common sense.
Translation: Do not bite off more than you can chew.
Translation: The higher one climbs in society, the more vulnerabilities are exposed.
Translation: Life is good.
Translation: We are hanging out, relaxing. (Trinidad & Tobago and USVI)
Translation: S/he is completely ignorant.
Translation: Wow! (Jamaica).
Translation: They are very close friends.
Translation: Every good thing comes to an end.