Patois Lessons for a Country Girl

March 1, 2011

Last year I fell in love with soca after my brother-in-law came back from Trinidad Carnival and sent me the Palance video (my all time favorite soca song so far). Since then you’ve probably seen me winding (or wining is it?) at parties, palancing randomly at gatherings and jumping the fence at the West Indian Day Parade with a flag in the air. However, I have a little secret. I’m not West Indian. I know…I know… you totally thought I was, right! With all my trips to the Caribbean and the delicious curry and jerk dinners I’m always tweeting about making and………wait, what? You weren’t fooled? Was it my lopsided awkward Willie Bounce that gave it away?

Okay fine, I admit it. I’m from South Carolina. My momma nem are Black. Daddy too. We eat catfish, not salftish and rice with gravy, not peas. But my Trinidad trip is two days away and I have a little problem. I’m about to head down to a country full of thoroughly inebriated West Indians from all different countries and I can’t speak a lick of patois! I have a hard enough time trying to understand my girlfriends who flip into patios without warning, and now there’s this Soca Brainwash mix that I’ve been told to get familiar with that’s pretty awesome but if you ask me what the songs are about I’d have to get back to you on that.

So here’s where you come in. I’ve put together a little translation list for you to help me with. A few phrases I have figured out from context clues in the songs, but there are several that have left me clueless. Please help! And feel free to add soca terms that I’ve left out!

Bashment – A big bash in a basement? No?
Bloodclot/Bumboclot – Not sure what it means but definitely not saying it to anyone in Trinidad
Pon De River/Pon De Replay/Pon Anything – I have no idea what this means
Big Up Like a high five or something? Kudos? Cheers?
Bad man – A man in trouble? What did he do? Why does he need to pull up?
Battyman– Um….Antoine Dodson?
Dead Wit Laugh –  LMAO or *dead* or dying laughing
Pee pee up myself – Oh no! Wait, why?
Big chune!– I think this is the Black girl equivalent of “That’s my song!”
Selector – The DJ! I know this one! I win! No? Fine….
Pahty done – You aint’ got to go home but…
Rude gyal Rude girl I assume? But why is she so rude? Did she have a hard life? Did she find out her boyfriend is a battyman?
Rude boy– The male equivalent of a rude gyal. Again not sure why he’s so upset. I envision the “Mad Rapper” from the 90s hip hop songs.
Bullet!! – Can’t we all just get along? Should I run when I hear this?
Mash it up – What exactly are we mashing and why?
Jump/wave/wine – I’m just gonna copy the moves in this video and hope for the best  
Wha a gwan – What’s up? Or what happened? Or something..
More fiya – Um…turn up the heat? Oh wait, it’s pretty hot down there huh? Hmm….
Fete – Festival or party I think. Not exactly sure what to expect but they are MAD EXPENSIVE DURING CARNIVAL…just had to let that out…carry on…
Wicked – Actually not wicked at all. It’s a good thing right?

Feel free to add to this list! I probably won’t use any of these but would love to understand 🙂

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1 Comment

  • Reply Dani March 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    LOVE IT!!! Due to my trips to TnT Carnival and West Indian friends..I've been told I'm being converted. Though I'm born and rasied in Miami, residing in S.C. for 10 years has brought on a bit of a "twang". So, as long as I keep my mouth shout in the caribbean, I seem to look like I belong…waving a trini flag and all. But…..I do feel like I belong…:-)

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