Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Wait you is a bajan?

This was basically the question someone asked me on Friday night. I was like "cupse, man wha kinda foolish question you asking me doah, you like you mekkin sport! Of course I is a bajan."

It was kind of funny because it was a friend I met up here in Toronto and have known for quite a number of years but for some reason I never knew she was bajan and likewise somehow she never knew the same about me. It just never came up in conversation before. On Friday when this revelation was made it turned out she knew some bajan friends of mine here in T-dot that I didn't know she knew and one of her cousins at home turned out to be a bredren that I hang out with whenever I'm in the island. Small world I guess but its still sort of strange that we both didn't know we were from the same island.

I guess I do a pretty good job of keeping the accent under wraps (surprised aren't you?) unless I'm in the presence of known bajans or at home in Barbados. Maybe I've been assimilated by being in this country for so many years or maybe I've developed one of those generic what one of my friends calls 'West Isle' accents where the influence of being amongst so many different Caribbean cultures rubs off on your speech so that its not necessarily a true representation of your island but more like a generic mish-mash of other island slang lol.

Naa its not that, I may write a mish-mash of island slang but I don't speak it.

Actually its probably more like I just choose certain situations to speak differently. Different horses for different courses I guess so you wouldn't see me speaking in a Canadian accent most of the time at home and you wouldn't find me using my bajan when I'm at the office. Funny how I can turn the accent off and on at a whim without even really trying.

My wife used to laugh at me back in the day because she could always tell who I was talking to on the phone because anytime certain of my Caribbean friends called the bajan just switched on. Oh and apparently I have a special voice for girls on the phone as well, lol.

But then again I'm not big on conversation, just have never been much of a talker more of a listener. Maybe thats why people dont realize I'm a bajan. Oh the point here is two fold. One I dont talk much so they dont get to hear me speak so you wouldnt know that I'm a bajan and two I dont talk much so I'm not your typical bajan cause ya know my people duz talk nuff, nuff, nuff. To say the average bajan was loquacious is an understatement. Talk! Wuhloss summa my bajan people mout duz run like "sick nigga bottom." We love ta hear weself talk. ha ha ha

Yea ok this post had no direction.

Oh wait a minute, I should make a distinction between dialect and accents. Dialect is the actual words you speak, accent is how you speak them. So I could say "I am going to work" with a bajan accent but I could also say "I gine long hay ta work" which would actually be bajan dialect. Why'd I bring that up? Well sometimes people try to fake accents, especially from my viewpoint Caribbean accents, without knowing the structure of the dialect and its just terrible. Actually its rather insulting from certain aspects but that's another story for another day. I gine long hay ta work.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, the accent/dialect thing amongst Caribben people is quite suppem.

'...mout run like sick nigga bottom'...never hear dat one before...but if a man tell me dat I think I'da shut mi rass mout fast JDid! Dr. D.

4panist said...

I would never even try to fake a bajan accent. I love to hear old ladies talk though, it takes me back and warms my heart. Nothing like hearing de ol time sayings.

Zantiferous3 said...

Sooo true... I have so many Carribbean friends and this rings true for all of them. LOL it's funny to hear them switch it on with family and off to talk to me. Hilarious.

I was married to a Jamaican and he was so damn Jamerican he used to ask ME what Jamaicans were saying when they talked to each other... same with my Puerto Rican boyfriend years later... we went to a Dominican restaurant and he went in to pick up the food, only to run out to the car and ask me, "How do you say 'fork' in Spanish?" ROFLMAO!!

Oh and PS so you know... EVERY man has a different voice when they're talking to a woman. EVERY man. LOL... Wives in particular can tell when their husband is talking to a woman vs. a man. It's the same for women talking to men. =)

Nikki said...

Sounds like how my Mom's family does. My mother's parents are of Portuguese decent and when her family is together, they speak Portuguese slang, but when not around each other, they revert back to English.

Campfyah said...

I thought I did de onlee bodie caught up in such a thing. When I speak to people they tell me that they hear my NY accent, but know that it's mixed with something they can't quite identify. So natuarlly they ask me where am I from.

Like you, having grown up in de midst of the Caribbean community in Bklyn, I can switch the accents and dialetc without thinking. then some people when they know that I do it, would ask me to do one or the other, I have to tell them, dat yuh can't do it just so, same wid my own accent. I just can't walk up tuh a non-Bajan and start speaking in Bajan dialect.

Abeni said...

lol,how do you manage to hide de bajan accent? you deserve an award:)

courtneyelizabeth said...

I dont have a bajan accent OR dialect....i guess it's because i've lived in the states pretty much all of my life....

BajanSis said...

Duh got some people at work that when I start talking bout "home" does be all "Wait, I thought you born here, you don't even have an accent". I does be there laughing to myself cause I know when I buss out through dat door dem can't understand a word I saying.

And in true bajan fashion, you know I want to know if I know dat girl you talking bout?

Mad Bull said...

Well, at work, they doh hear my Bajan accent either. Like all of you, I can't turn it on with non-Bajans... Come to think of it, I can't turn it on with Bajans either! ;-)
Anyway, I know why the woman didn't know you were a Bajan. You're not! I can't believe you can hide that accent! Like Abeni, you deserve an award.
Now the Yardie accent, I do turn off at work, if I'm talking to non-Caymanians or non-Jamaicans... the Caymanians understand most of what I say when I am chatting 'bad', so a nuh nutten.
I remember I was chatting to a Jamaican-Caymanian yute about some session (dance) business, and me really start to lay on the Yardie chat thick-thick and one Irish man passed. It was the first he had heard me speaking like that. Hear him nuh: "Wait! You speak West Indian!". I had was to laugh!

Jdid said...

@Dr D - yea man that is bajan term ya neva hear it before?
@4panist - its pretty difficult to fake a bajan accent actually
@xquizzyt1 - you sure he was jamaican or ja-fakin lol
@nikki - I think its just easier to switch instead of having people who cant understand go whats was that he said.
@camp - no bosie you aint the only one, i see nuff people do it
@abeni - is a talent i have. actually i'm pretty good with accents.
@courtney - did you at least pick up some words from your dad?
@bajan sis - doan think you know the person but then what do I kno
@mad bull - lol, yea I find it strange them din know i was bajan but who knows

The Marlo Girl said...

i think it also has to do with the fact that in some instances, we're not allowed to speak "that way" at home. i know growing up, when i went to school in bim, my grandmother would not let me speak in dialect the way i did at school. it was always about being proper... you know how bajans have "class" hangups, and only the lower echelon of bajans would speak so... sorta like working clase cockney vs. uppercrusty british...

ShellyP said...

A lot of Caribbean people I know turn their accent on or off based on the situation. I love to hear the extremes. I have a friend who grew up in New York so at times he puts on a strong NY accent, but then when he feels like it he's dripping Jamaican patios. Ooh, and I have another friend from Texas with the cutest Texan drawl when he wants but again, he busts out with the Jamaican at any given time. I make fun of one of my co-workers cause I know whenever he's talking to his mother - his South London accent comes right out.

xqyizzyt1 is so right about ALL men talking differently to women than to men, and women to men. I do know I do it.

notyouraverage.... said...

i have two bajan girlfriends, canadian born like me, but i was able to detect a little bajan accent in them - it's one of the most disticnt accents.

Natty said...

Xquizzyt1 is right, EVERYMAN has a different voice when speaking to women. Everyman! It's too funny.

Jdid said...

@marlo - I know what you mean but I never had that in my household growing up. If I used dialect it wasnt corrected or anything like that, I never felt any stigma associated with talking bajan I just knew there wasa time and place for everything so it was fine at home or with friends but in say a class setting you had to speak proper english
@shellyp - I cant imagine a texan accent switching to jamaican, thats got to be funny
@purfiktgurl - It sort of depends on how you were raised here iif you're canadian born because I know some bajan folk here whose kids have absolutely no accent
@natty - lol, i guess its true here i was thinking i was special.

Anonymous said...

fah true dou i can switch de bajan of an on

Anonymous said...

i dis talk tah all ah my my bajan cousins so but i can stop talking bajan when i dis ready

Anonymous said...

when im on the fone to my cousin in barbados i can switch on a bajan accent easly i ain no how people dis find it sah hard lol

Shania O. said...

I really like this post! I too, am a Bajan. Although I was born in American, my mother's side of my family are native Bajans and I was raised and went to school in Barbados as a child. I'm so glad to that I have the ability to switch back and forth between my Bajan dialect and regular English. One thing that I want to say is that, I sometimes feel outtah place when I does talk wid my uduh friends from de Carribean, I know that there dialects are a little different, so sometimes it feels a little weird. But overall, it's still cool to share the West Indian heritage because it's a different level of connection.