When was the last time you heard a term that made you ask, “Wat’chu mean”? Along with our spectacular beaches and captivating culture, Bahamians are reputable for their unique dialect. Some of our language has evolved so rapidly that it’s difficult for foreigners to pick up on enough context clues to translate. This week, we’ve taken some of our favourite local idiomatic expressions and given them a definition and context to help even beginners grasp an understanding of the terms.
Sipsip (noun): If you’ve been away from the island for a while and want to catch up on what you’ve missed, you may ask a friend to give you the “sipsip.” This is the Bahamian word for gossip, deriving from a simple repetition of the word’s second syllable, “sip.” Here’s how you may hear the term used in a conversation: “So what’s been goin’ on, man? Gimme’ the sipsip.”
Sometimey (adjective): Many parents would describe their teenagers as sometimey, meaning that they tend to be moody. This word has come from the implication that moody people will sometimes be angry, sometimes upset, sometimes happy, et cetera; just making them a “sometimey” person. If you hear this word in a conversation, it may sound like this: “I don’t like dealin’ with her, she too sometimey.”
Cut-hip (noun or verb): If a child grows to be too sometimey, they may find themselves with a cut-hip. A cut-hip is a Bahamian term for a beating. To put the noun in motion, if you are going to cut someone’s hip, you’re going to beat them. For instance, one might say, “He too rude, he need’ a cut-hip.” or “My teacher cut my hip so much in primary school!”
Jam up (adjective): A perfect example of a jam up place is Wendy’s, Mackey Street on any given day. If somewhere is “jam up”, it’s too crowded. It’s probable that this slang comes from the term “jam-packed”, with a twist using the classic Bahamian practice of adding “up” to an adjective to exaggerate it, i.e. “fresh up, mash up, all loud up.” You might hear this term in a sentence like this: “I couldn’t have fun at that party, man, it was too jam up.”
Bush crack man gone (…we’re not quite sure how to classify this one): This term can be translated to a proverb, meaning “when trouble comes, run.” For example, when discussing the aftermath of a fight, one Bahamian might tell another, “Soon as I saw that first punch last night, bush crack man gone!”
We reach (fragment): Finally, we reach the end of our mock dictionary, meaning that we have arrived. Bahamians commonly make this announcement when pulling up to a destination. If you’re waiting for a ride somewhere and the driver arrives to pick you up, they might call you to say, “Come outside, we reach!”
It could take months to gather up every Bahamian phrase, so this list is nowhere near exhaustive.
What are some of your favorite local talks-dem?