12 Dec 2012Blog

Bajan dialect 101

by Summer

Bajan - photo credit brightnight4life@tumblr.comBajan dialect is an iconic part of the Barbadian culture, and as such we thought you might be interested to learn a few key local sayings.

1. A “cutter” is not a knife, but rather a type of bread with various fillings, such as rat cheese (really just new Zealand cheddar) with pepper sauce, or baked ham (and pepper sauce), or flying fish etc. (and pepper sauce).

2. If someone asks you for a “scotch”, it’s not Johnnie Walker they’re requesting. This is a Bajan way of asking to sit next to someone: “Can I scotch there?”

3. Cheese on bread is not a lunch item, but rather a saying used to express your feelings when you can’t believe something has not happened or is not true “Cheese on bread man, why you don’t buy me a Banks beer?”

4. A leadpipe is not a type of construction material, but is actually a home-made local delicacy (somewhat like very stodgy cake).

5. Eass, wess, norf and sowf are the cardinal points of the compass and are used repeatedly while Bajans give directions. Listen out carefully!

6. No matter what side of the island, you could still be told to go “down to the East coast”.

7. Things being referred to as ‘scruffy’ or ‘ingrunt’ can actually be meant as a compliment: “You pants suit look scruffy denn!”

8. ‘Skinning ya teeth’ is when you smile and ‘puting up ya face’ is when you look upset.

9. ‘Doing the dawg’ does not mean impersonating a dog. This phrase is used when talking about someone celebrating excessively: “We did de dawg at that fete last night!”

10. If you should fall down and are hurt, these words will be used by locals to describe you: ‘break up’, ‘skin up’, ‘lick up’ or ‘catspraddle’: “I just get lick up by that there wave!”