Trini Dialect


Standing with a smile and a confused look on his face, the nice English guy from upstairs asked “What?”
I replied, “I’ll organise to suit”.
He asked, “You’ll wear a suit?”
I laughed and said “No, I’ll organise to suit”
He asked, “Organise to suit?”
I said “Yes, organise to suit”
He laughed and asked again “What?”
I asked “Ya’ll don’t say that in England?”
He replied, “No, I don’t think so.”
I said “It means that I’ll plan accordingly”
He laughed and said “Yeah, we don’t say that (organise to suit) in England”

It’s moments like the above that remind me that Trini English is not British English. So, in honour of Trininess, and in the absence of a copy of Côté ci Côté la, I’ve compiled a short list of Trini slangs, things and phrases. Please feel free to suggest more or correct me.
Thanks! 🙂

Waz de scene jed?
How are things going?

Buh wham to you boy?
Is something wrong with you?

Steups (referred to by foreigners as kissing one’s own lips)
Sign of disapproval/Kiss my ass

Yuh dotish awah?
Are you stupid?


To Lime (verb. -no relation to ‘lemon’ or ‘orange’)
To hang out



How yuh go see a bess darkie/reds/ting like dat and not hail de woman out?
How can you see a hot woman and not call her?

A rell mad scene.
A crazy event.


Buss a good__________
Do ___________ enthusiastically.

I cyah take he dotishness nah/oui.
I cannot cope with his stupidity.

Buh wah de jail is dis?
What stupid/crazy thing are you engaging in/is happening?


Cheers (if I reach back to Trinidad and anyone hears me say ‘cheers’ instead of ‘tanks’ then I’ll have to give you permission to tap me on the head and steups)

Bus (pictured) or Big Maxi

Organise to suit
Plan accordingly

Dog of no specific breed

Transportation van with two coloured stripes reflective of region (north, west, Tobago, central, etc)

Ways!/Way sah!
Additions based on comments. 🙂
you nuh fer real- Are you serious?
is diss yuh dissing me or wah- Are you trying to insult me?
I doh know na- I don’t know.
wha de jail is dis – What manner of nonsense is happening here?
well look at dis bachannal here- Notice the drama that’s unfolding.
yuh too wotless -You are too lazy/nasty/perverted/bad (usually said in a positive way/not as an insult)
None ah dat! -I will not accept that response.
relax yuhself nah-Calm down!
dat ting rell dread- That’s really cool!
I dey, wham boss- I’m okay. What’s up with you?

Trinis in London


It was so nice to hear another Trini accent, to see a familiar face and to hear someone talk about “crossing the road like a Trini”….all things which are so common in Trinidad and Tobago that they go by without any notice. Last weekend I went to London for the first time, and also, for the first time in England saw someone I had studied with previously. The guy in the picture was in my Psychology year group in UWI, and is now studying music in Bristol.

It actually was a bit weird seeing him in the UK, because although I knew that he was there, the world seemingly shrank when it hit me that we’re meeting in London and not St. Augustine. Apart from Trini linkages, London was really an experience. It’s quite different from Cambridge, and I plan to visit again some time. I jotted:

“From Coldplay (Cambridge) to The Heavy (London)”

“London is dirtier, grittier”

“So grand”

“London feels like the real world” Cambridge feels like the past.

“There’s a nonsensicalness about the place that’s extremely alluring”


Still though, when I got back to Cambridge late in the evening, I felt the most unexpected sensation. My heart began to beat slower (until then I hadn’t realised that it was beating kinda fast), I suddenly felt more relaxed, and the strangest thought came into my mind: “It’s so nice to be back home!”. Somehow, somewhere in my mind, Cambridge has become associated with homely comfort. Cambridge, this city that seemed so foreign, so weird, so different just over a month ago has now morphed into somewhere that I feel somewhat at peace in. I looked at the multitude of old buildings, leaves on the street, and emptiness of the place (as compared with London), and I smiled. The tree with low hanging branches that annoys me when my hair sometimes hooks up on it felt like it was patting me gently on the head saying “Welcome back Kalifa, I missed you”. I had probably the most relaxing walk that I’ve ever had since coming here that night… because for the first time I think I felt like I belonged to somewhere in the UK. In Cambridge I’m just an alien, in London I’m an alien squared. Still though, I like London…


**written about a week ago…also I hate how I look in the first picture, but that’s the one my friend was smiling fully in so yeah…J**

No one warned me about this.


Skin. The only thing that I heard when I was back in Trinidad, about skin changing in cold countries, is that it might become slightly lighter because of the lack of sun. I could deal with that if it happened. It’s not painful. It’s not irritating; and I could easily get back to my lovely, sun-kissed full-chocolateness when I get back to sunny Trinidad and Tobago.

But no-one told me about the itchiness, the dryness, or the flakiness.

At first I assumed that it was the water…maybe because the water is chalkier in the UK it was doing some bizarre thing to my skin (?).

Then (based on what someone said) I figured it was the bar soap I used…maybe shower cream or gel will be less harsh on my skin (?)

Then I figured it was my clothes….maybe I should wash my pants after one wear (?)

Neither of the above was the issue.

So, what causes the problem?

Well, turns out it’s that good old cold weather. I already mentioned that it hates me, but never did I think that its vengeance was so far reaching. The weather doesn’t only make you feel cold, but it makes your skin itch, and can have you scratching as though you went a week without bathing after rolling around naked in grass.

Apparently it achieves this by drying your skin until it becomes flaky, at which point it begins to itch….sometimes mildly, sometimes like crazy. My thighs tend to itch the most, followed by the sides of my belly and lower back. I don’t know why those specific areas.

Now, this probably doesn’t happen to everyone, but in the event that you are planning a trip to one of these cold countries, I’d say to be prepared to intensify your moisturizing routine. Moisturized skin infuriates the cold weather.

Partially related mention: I also watch my body in amazement after I take off a piece of clothing and the hairs on my arm stand up at complete attention. I’ve seen my hair rise before, but never like this…hair rises dramatically here (exciting stuff!).

***The accompanying piece was inspired by Orchid’s and Mark Gellineau’s work together.***