Bajan Dialect Part 1

A couple of years ago I was speaking to a lady in a store that said she liked my accent. I told her,  “I don’t have an accent, you have an accent!” I thought about what she said and realized that in Barbados, I am the one with an accent! Also, there are times that people don’t understand what I’m saying just as I have difficulties with them occasionally.

This is me with my whore!

The biggest misunderstanding so far was when Sandra’s aunt told me she was looking for a whore for her son and asked if I had one. Now I know Bajan mothers will do almost anything for their adult male children but I thought this was going too far! So I just had to ask why she was looking for a whore her son because if he felt he needed one I am sure that he could find one on his own on Nelson Street. She said,  “Not a whore Calvin, a hoe, a hoe, the kind you hoe dirt wid!” Boy, we had a good laugh for a few days on that one!

Since we are remodeling our house on a tight budget, most days I have to run errands for our contractor Timothy. One day he sent me to the hardware store for a peck wid handle and a hass and stable. I had him repeat several times because I had no idea what those things were. Finally he said, “Mon just go to de store and tell de man what I said and he’ll give you what I want.”

Here I am with a peck. Lol

I walked into the store and greeted the cashier with a “Good morning” and continued to the back. I found a clerk and said “Good Morning” then asked him for a peck with handle and a hass and stable. The clerk said “No problem” and went to the pick heads and asked me what size pick head I wanted 2 inch or 4 inch then grabbed a wooden axe handle from the stand. Okay, Tim called the pick a peck or at least that is what I heard.  I couldn’t wait to find out what a hass and stable was.  The clerk went to the next aisle and showed me the hasp display that had a rack of hasps. I’m still not sure what the stable part is but I got what I was asking for.

Hass en Stable?

Sometimes I don’t even understand Sandra, my wife of 33 years!  She sent me to the the store for a taga malt. You should have seen me going through the beverage section saying “Taga, tagga, taga, tagga” with my index finger extended looking at every single bottle. I did not want to hear, “You didn’t look properly” from Sandra when I returned so I looked again! The second time through it dawned on me, Tiger Malt! When I gave her the Tiger Malt, I  told her that  she told me to get a Taga Malt, she said “Right, I said Taga Malt.” I told her it is “T-i-g-e-r, tiger.”  She gave me a look and a long chupse, I gave up!

Is this Taga or Tiger?

At the garden center a few weeks ago a woman gave up on me! After repeating something I could not understand three times she finally gave up and said “Okay, Ma’am I’m gonna  to talk to you” and spoke to Sandra who translated that she was saying “These plants are for indoors not outdoors”.

I find that most Bajans that work in the service industries speak very clearly at work but when they get home with their friends it’s pure dialect. Maybe it’s a good sign that when people see me they see a Bajan and let bare dialect roll off their tongues.



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  1. That was too funny! Dialects can break or make a relationship. Sometimes there are even different ones in one area. You may need to start carrying pen and pad with you. “A whore ”
    Too funny. Thanks for sharing.

  2. When my Bajan wife and her sister and mother are talking Bajan I cannot understand anything they are saying. They could be planning to chop me up into little pieces and feed me to the fishes and I would be unaware of their intentions. So I just smile, listen hard (and try not to look like I am doing so) and try to pick up a few words here and there. I realize I will never be able to speak Bajan, but I love listening to it. Between the accent and the many Bajan sayings, its more like a separate language than a dialect!

    1. I understand much more than I did 33 years ago when I barely had idea of what was being said. I now join in with the rest. Until then as you said, pick up a few words to get the gist of what is being said. I won’t even try to speak like a Bajan with an accent but I find myself using more of their words and sayings.

  3. This is a good one …. lol!!!!!!! Taga Malt…. lol!!! Lol!!! A whore…. hoe….. steupse lol!!!! This is so funny!!!!

  4. Calvin which son did she need the whore for? That was too funny and you can’t understand Sandra after 33 years? I love it! My Glenn can’t understand me either and he said I say some words wrong, but I say them right but he hears them wrong. And the Tiger malt you better have found it or else she would have sent you right back to the store, but the next time she would have written it down on a piece of paper for you. lol, enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work.

    1. Yes, we still have occasional miscommunications after 33 years! The whore was for Victor.

  5. Calvin we cleeeean fahget dat you is from off in away! You iz one ah we!!
    That article was funny! The things we take for granted! You are have a bllllast!

  6. Calvin I am sure going to miss your posts when you visit Boston. You hear me “visit”. So don’t get nuh ideas bout spending nuh long time dey. Have a great week Baje. I totally enjoyed today’s blog.

    1. You are correct Kim, I will be visiting Boston only long enough to pack my stuff, pay taxes and do Doctor check-up. Hopefully that won’t take too long, I really love it here and consider Barbados home!

  7. Funny! This reminds me of Uncle OD. The kids say that sometimes they have no idea what he is saying.

  8. Love every minute of your blog. I’m literally dying of laughter here. Love my Bajan people.

  9. Calvin McDowell! I just came acrossed your blog for the very first time! This is the funniest thing I have read in a very long time! You wrote in words what people have been thinking for so many years. I almost died from laughing! I am a bajan and did not know what some of the things were myself. I was so curious while i was reading to find out what a peck wid handle and a hass and stable was. The one that took the cake though was the whore/hoe! I thought i heard it all. By the way I am Sandra and Margarita family…we grew up in Barbados in the same house until i left Barbados at the age of 10. I want to read more like this! This will snap a depressed person back into I really, really enjoyed reading this! I will check out your other blogs. You should consider writing a book from a foreigners point of view…just saying! With your permission i would like to share this with others for a belly roll.


    1. Thank you for the compliments Velda, please feel free to share with any and everyone! I plan to start writing a book at the end of the year or early 2018. I think I have a different perspective on the bajan culture and I love living it and writing about it! Sandra often talks about Mrs. Stuart and the fun you had growing up in Barbados!

      1. I want to put my order in for the book. You are a great writer! I am still laughing and can see Sandra tell you to buy the “taga” malt. Lol

  10. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I really hope to view the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my very own site now!

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