The longer I live on a rock, the more I come to understand about the lifestyle, the culture, and how to get around. Having been here for almost a year now, the local slang, which stumped me from the start, is finally beginning to click in my brain.
I work at a local school, and I’m the only foreigner. I often find myself stuck in conversations where I only understand about half of what the other person is saying. Some of the teachers have even come to spot when I’m not getting it. I must have a confused look plastered on my face because they’ll kindly stop mid-sentence and say, “She doesn’t get it, talk slower.” I will get the occasional eye roll, like it’s a big chore to repeat themselves, but most are thankfully willing to adjust to my presence.
I almost feel like I’m learning a whole new language even though they are, in fact, speaking English. I have to concentrate so hard on what everyone is saying (including my students) that by the end of my day, I find that I often just need silence – and maybe some rum punch. (Side note: somehow, take it from me, two drinks does make it easier to understand things though…)
As I’ve started to understand more of what’s being said around me, I’ve picked up some new words and phrases that I enjoy throwing into conversation, much to the amusement of my peers and students. Here are a few of my favorites:
Translation: to hang out / chill
Translation: mad / angry / perturbed
Translation: broken (No, this is not a song mashup!)
Translation: I will be dressed and ready to go.
Translation: meat (This has been the weirdest one for me yet!)
– – –
In my early island days, when someone would say, “Current gone”, my first reaction was a blank stare while I searched for the water current I assumed they were referring to. Now? I know the power is out – and feel pretty proud of that.
The funniest side effect of me spending my days as I do is that my volume has increased. My husband says I yell like a local, and I have to remind him sometimes that I’m not mad, just talking in a way I now consider normal (almost). I have caught myself saying “yea” or “boy” in the island way and have been surprised to find that when I do throw on an accent unintentionally, people here are often more likely to talk to me and help me out.
My husband doesn’t get nearly as much time to lime around with the locals as I do, so I’ve become his translator. As I continue to adopt the ways of my rock, who knows what’ll be next? Perhaps I’ll go home with some funky dreads, although I’m sure my family would be pretty vexed about that…
What are your favorite island phrases you’ve picked up from your rock?
Want to stay connected to the Land of Coconuts?
We'll send you island mail, fresh from the tropics each week.