When I came to the Bahamas I was a bit intrigued the first time I heard the expression ey used at the end of a question. Here’s an example, You crazy ey? Now 6 years on and I find myself saying things like ey (eh/ huh), bey (boy)- sometimes just for fun, but more often than not, automatically. So I thought I would share some phrases/ words that are frequently used by Bahamians. I have also included the English version along with a Spanish translation of each.
Many people, too, seem to be fascinated by the Jamaican accent and slang. I sometimes break out into Patois to the delight of my students, who want me to repeat the word/ phrase. It’s also fun to see the confused faces when I say something completely incomprehensible to them! One of my personal favourites is chakka chakka (disorganized). So of course I had to give you the Patois/ Jamaican version of each phrase as well.
It is important to note that the official language of Jamaica and the Bahamas is English. Additionally, The examples below use slang that would not really be utilized in a formal setting.
After you have gone through the list, share your favourite Jamaican/ Bahamian slang with me along with the English meaning. And if you know the Spanish translation, why not include it as well? Go for it! Chao.
|English||Bahamian Slang||Jamaican Patois||Español/ Spanish|
|It looks/ sounds/ tastes (etc) good||Dat solid||It sell off||¡Excelente!/ ¡Qué Bueno!|
|Hi/ Hello||Wha-coo sayin’ bey?||Waa gwaan? (What’s going on?)||¿Qué tal?/ Hola|
|Broken||Bus’ up ( busted)||Mash up||Roto|
|Poke||Jook||Jook||Dar un golpe con la punta del dedo|
|Wow!||Mudda sick!||Rahtid!||¡Vaya!/ ¡Uau!|
|I guess so||Mussi||Mussi so||Creo que sí|
|Ghost||*Jumbey (not commonly used nowadays)||Duppy||Fantasma|
|Light- skinned (not Caucasian)||Bright (This also means out of order in Patois so of course people are doubly confused when I say “You bright!”)||Brown (Remember Buju Banton’s song Browning?)||Tez claro|
|Crowded||Jam up||Full up/Ram/ Caak||Abarrotado/ lleno de gente|
|Disorganized||Unorganized (not a slang, of course, but I do notice that this word is used more frequently in the Bahamas than in Jamaica)||Chakka chakka||desorganizado|
|Very short/ nappy/ thin hair||Picky head||Picky-picky head||Pelo corto|
|A sound beating/ corporal punishment||*cut hip (offensive, depending on the audience)||beat’n||Azotaina|
|Bottom||*Boongy (offensive, depending on the audience)||*Batty (offensive, depending on the audience)||Trasero|