Monday, March 21, 2005

Two Words

Or in this case more like three (title reference is Kanye's Two words off the College Dropout album)

wasn't going to blog today or until Thursday this week (because Thursday I have to give you the ANTM recap and I must say that's sort of fun if I'm inspired) but I realized I still had a few things to chat about and I'll try to keep it short(er).

Today I wanted to talk about Bajan as a dialect or language or patois or whatever you wish to call it. Now I am no linguist or expect but growing up speaking this dialect and being immersed in the culture of Barbados I find that some of the words are kind of fun and plus I am just blogging whatever comes to my head so here goes.

Wont (will try not to anyway) go into alot of detail but I want to examine three words ...in a minute.

But first.... You may or may not notice it in my writing but showing emphasis in bajan is kind of cool. For instance, in regular English you would use the word "really" as an adverb to emphasize an adjective describing someone. As in "he runs really fast" or "he is a really bad man". In bajan this concept is achieved by repetition not only of the adjective but sometimes by shortening the adverb really to its adjective form and then repeating it and or joining it with the other adjective. Am I making any sense? As an example instead of "he is a really bad man" where you have an adverb adjective together (really and bad for you people that don't know grammar) we would say "he real real bad" the real real being the adverb showing how bad the person is or we would say "quick quick so he did gone" as opposed to "quickly he was gone". Or an ever popular comment in my household; "boy dat fella Jdid real real real ignorant". See three reals for extra emphasis which really means that when common sense was sharing out I was sleeping.

Also we might say "I hayso starving and this wuman cooking de food slow slow slow" which is actually even slower than "real slow" or "When the police get cross hayso dem three fellas tek off fast fast fast". In these cases we are repeating the adjective for emphasis. You understand? Anyway that was rather rudimentary but I just thought that it might get you guys to see that when you see me use terms like fast fast or slow slow, or quick quick or real real it actually wasn't a typo on my part but just me using some bajan in the blog. Too bad I cant emulate the accent for you guys. Actually maybe that's a good thing.

Anyway onto the meat of today's blog. Three of my favorite bajan words explained. Although I don't use them often and cant even think of anytime I've used them in this blog yet they are words that just remind me of home the bajan dialect.

(1) Ruff dry. Ruff dry is the equivalent of unkept or wrinkled as in if you haven't ironed your clothing and you are wearing it looking rather wrinkled then I might say 'but wait Bob muh brudda, you look very ruff dry today, wha happen you iron brek'.Interpretation: "Bob, my number one main man, your clothing is looking rather wrinkled today, did you forget to iron them?" Now along with ruff dry there is sort of an equivalent word or more so a similar but not exact term that goes hand in hand with it which is "rumfle up". I guess its sort of a bastardization of crumpled and wrinkled which gave rise to wrumpled but the w is silent and the p becomes an f and bajans pronounce it rumfle. For example "Man dem lockers at de gym duz be real real small and my clothes duz get rumfle up and got me looking real ruff-dry....den!". Now as you can see rumfle is used to apply to clothing while ruff dry applies to persons although ruff dry can also be used on objects but rumfle isn't usually applied to persons. I also threw in a few reals to build on the prior paragraphs.

(2) Obzocky pronounced ob-zock-ee. Now before we go into this definition I'm not sure I can claim this for bajans alone because I'm sure I've heard Trinis use the word at times. Anyway Obzocky is sort of difficult for me to explain (if someone can help me out I'll be much obliged). Simplest explanation is it means when something is put together wrong or incorrectly. Something may be in the wrong place or looks out of place or fits in rather awkwardly or just doesn't sit correctly. It is a term usually used to refer to both objects and people where something just doesn't fit in right. For instance I went to University with this one girl who for some reason looked Obzocky. I aint going to lie I used to call her obzocky girl behind her back (and no it aint nun a wunnah dat went university with me that reading this and I aint tellin wunnah who it is) cause she wasn't my friend and she didn't have the greatest of attitudes either. Yes I'm trying to justify why I called her obzocky girl lol. Anyway I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong with her, maybe one shoulder was higher than the other, maybe it was something to do with her height, maybe it was her walk. I'm not sure what exactly was wrong with her but I was certain that something was wrong. That was clear from even a causal glance. And since I was uncertain what exactly was wrong and even if I knew what was wrong my brain was unable to describe it in proper English that the bajan adjective obzocky came to my rescue and so she was obzocky girl. Oh one note of caution before anyone uses the adjective obzocky is that it usually preceded by the verb look or no verb at all. For instance, "she look obzocky" or "she real obzocky".

(3) Third word is Backtafront. Backtafront or backtofront means just that, backwards, opposite,turned around or wrong. Turned inside out so to speak. First is last, up is down, right is wrong, left is right. You get the drift. As in "looka how you put on the chile clothes backtafront" meaning the clothing was put on with the back to the front and vice versa. Fairly explanatory isn't it. Now let me show you mistaken cultural context. Many years ago when I first discovered the Jamaican Gleaner site I went there one day reading some new stories when I noticed a link on the side under the usual section headings; lead stories, sports, business etc that said "Backtofront page". Now in hindsight I should have been smarter but hindsight is 20-20 and I guess I was in full bajan mode. All I saw were the words Back-to-front written rather closely together so it appeared as almost one word Backtofront which I knew as a Bajan word and interpreted as a bajan, mind you one without too much common sense, would. I also figured well this is a Caribbean site. These are my bredren, the same Caribbean people as me so maybe this is a word we have in common. Now mind you I never once stopped to think well why would anyone want a backwards, opposite, turned around, upside down, backtofront page on their website but well like I said hindsight is 20-20. So I am sitting there clicking and clicking this backtofront link expectantly, waiting to see the page do some sort of strange things to appear backtofront. I'm expecting the page to invert itself, stand up and do tricks, switch with the top at the bottom or the bottom at the top, reverse the writing so the left in the right hand corner or the letters upside down. Anything or everything strange I'm looking for and the more I click the more I convinced that this backtofront link thing just aint working at all. I'm peering at the computer, moving my eyes closer and closer to the screen thinking that I must somehow be missing this dramatic transformation that has changed or will change the page to make it backtofront.......Five minutes later it dawned on me. Oh they meant backtofront as in go back to the front page. Duhhh!

Now you see why the phrase "boy dat fella Jdid real real real ignorant" is so popular in my house right?. sigh!

33 comments:

Melody said...

In JA, we say back-to-front just like how yu say it (like a kid wearin' de his t-shirt wif de picture-front facin' de back), also when talkin' 'bout clothes, we often say "wrongside" when we mean "inside-out" an' we repeat some nouns to form an adjective (foolish woulda be 'fool-fool' or 'foo-fool'). Jdid, this post also shows some dif'rences too, 'cause ah never heard de word 'obzocky' before now:)

Abeni said...

You describe obzocky well.It must be an East Caribbean word because it very popular here in SVG.All the others we use them here too.I tell you most of the sayings are the same

Big N said...

Good post. But patois is still hard to read.

Anonymous said...

The obzocky word new to me....post a picture of suppem real real obzocky nuh! ;-) Dr. D.

Mad Bull said...

Back to front is a Yardie thing too, Jdid, but the other two, well, they sound very obzocky to me ;-)

The Marlo Girl said...

mmm... to help the other out with the word obzockey...

pitcha dis: a knock-kneed girl wearing stiletto heels, wearing a pencil thin skirt, trying to run for the bus on a windy day while holding an umbrella.

obzockey!

or just a really tall someone trying to sit cross-legged in small chair that's in the middle of a really small room crowded with people.

imagine how he'd look.

obzockey!

The Marlo Girl said...

btw, jdid:

you's a real half-idiot, boh! : )

you got me here laffin' real real bad!

notyouraverage.... said...

'boy dat post, did read good, good, good!' did i get that right? lol! 2 of my girlfriends are bajan. i'm gonna have to memorize some of this and spring it on them! and the bajan accent - definitely one of the most identifiable, in my humble opinion.

Bajan Sis said...

purfiktgurl, it would sound mo' better if you say "it read real real good". The way you put it, it sound a lil bit obzockey.

I heyso deading as usual, dat man Jdid real real igrant fuh trute doah. He is a bare poppit.

Scratchie said...

This real real good Jdid. Never heard of the obzocky though but I think I get a clear clear picture from the Marlo Girl.

Campfyah said...

Jdid, you is trully ah half ah idiot in trute doh (wunna ketch dah Bajan) Only today I was conteplating writing a blog about Bajan words. As some family from B'dos is visiting and I've been hearing some words that were long forgotten. E.g..Grandman tuh little boy...Wait you singing Banja in de house.....

Anonymous said...

Jdid,

you post sweet fa daze den. I aint hear de work poppit in a while either.

some of my favorite bajan words:

(brawling) man you Shelly-Ann real brawling den. (meaning she is rather loud)

(Wuflis) Sandra real Wuflis. (meaning she has a lot of encounters with mean.

(Cheeseonbread) Cheese On Bread these words are combined. anybody has a sentence for the term cheeseonbread?
- Nikki

Anonymous said...

I realized that I cannot spell for shite>

-Nikki

Urban Sista said...

Man, I've got ta hail yuh up for obzocky -- how often do you see obzocky used in a sentence? And when you do see it, you must congratulate the person who used it so elegantly.

Nuff respect, bozie.

Jdid said...

lol, seems like i hit a popular note here. all de bajans coming out lol.

@melody - didnt know backtofront was jamaican too
@abeni - thanks as a person that obzocky myself i guess i was able to give a decent description
@big N - no man you just got to get acustomed to it
@Dr D - ha ha , i will have to find a picture for true
@mad bull - lol
@marlo - thanks for the assist wid obzocky. you sure you aint family ta me cause when ya say i is a real half idiot it broughtback memories lol
@purfiktgirl - lol, yes bajan sis put ya right its real real good or good good but real real good is a superlative, lol
@bajan sis - ha ha ha, yes i "foolish fa days" den
@scratchie - glad ya get the idea
@campfyah - well dont let me stop ya from writing about the bajan words
@nikki - cheese on bread is one of my favorite terms too
@urban sis - thank ya , i trying to spead the bajan language. soon everyone will be using obzocky. that is my goal.

Lene said...

I'm using obzocky from now on.

o said...

Dis ya 1/2 Jamaican gwine use "obzockey" from now on. GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY... funneeeee! LMAO!

BTW, one of my Bajan homies told me bout 'liming' and I have been using it ever since. I. LOVE. IT!

o said...

eh Big N... all a wunnah does have Guyanese patois too, eeh? Mi wan fi see yuh use it! hee hee!

Jdid said...

@starfoxx & soli - yes spead the word sistren. soon everyone will be using the word obzocky

Natty said...

I feel like I just got out of a school lesson...
Informative & real real funny, thank you!

JustMe said...

Let me start by saying that this is in no way meant to be a diss to folks from the Caribbean (cause ya'll know I ain't nothin' but a JaFAKE-an).

But can somebody please explain why the "t" is always silent in Patois? Why is "thing" pronounced "ting", etc.

Inquiring JaFAKE-an minds want to know...so they can practice! :-)

Jdid said...

@natty - glad you liked it
@justme - girl that is a whole odda post. actually you asking the wrong man cause I dont know too much about the jamaican 'ting'. I think caribbean people just have issues with an h following a t so that thing becomes ting and three becomes tree ect. of course jamaicans on the oddahand just love to ignore h's where there should be h's and add h's to words that start with vowels but thats h'another story ya 'ear lol

Tracey said...

Too funny, actually I am glad you did this post cause I swear the baby gonna pick up on the words de hubby says to him.

Jazz said...

Jdid, you're crazy. thanks for the lesson. never heard the word obzocky and now i shall use it on people that wont know what the hell i am talking about. thanks j

Melody said...

Jdid, yu touched upon another point in your comment just now: de missin' or misplaced H's in some J'can patois really inexplicable, when yu consider how many other C'bean islands still have their H inna de right place.

ThandieLand said...

Steve Urkle (sp?)was obzocky, CrissCross wore their clothes back-to-front and Michael Jackson sick sick sick in his head. Ruff dry we use in Dominica too.

I think the repitition of words for emphasis is an African. That is why we say Pam-Pam, fool-fool, bumbum etc.

Didi said...

Boy yuh really belong tuh de Silvuh Gates Hotel down deyso in Black Rock. Yuh is uh mentul payshunt pon de loose. Uh gine heyso and luk in de tinning tuh see ef uh cud fine yuh loose screws.

Anonymous said...

rumfle comes from the word rumple

Anonymous said...

Interested in Bajan dialect? check http://barbadosdialect.page.tl

chosha said...

Obzocky is hard to explain, but damn you know it when you see it. :)

As for the repetition thing, my favourite is 'nuff nuff' for 'enough', something my dad says when he's particularly well fed and full.

chosha said...

People trying to paint a picture of obzocky: first picture a new born deer stumbling about taking its first steps.

Now put the same baby deer on a bicycle. :)

dalia said...

jdid are you aware that on the wikipedia page for bajan, it links to this post as a reference for pronunciation on bajan words? lol

don't believe me? check fuh yuhself!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bajan

scroll down to the part where it says "learn bajan" and then you'll see "two words". click the link and see where you end up!

Godfather said...

Well, I still live in Barbados. Obsocky was well described but we also use it to refer to things that are cumbersome in nature like a hiking bag. (boss man, wuh part you gind wid dah big obzocky ting pon top u back?)

Meaning: My good fellow, where on earth are you planning to go with that cumbersome sack upon you?