Sonson and Steve
Wi staat Man!
Leaton Eastman, known to all as Sonson, was born and bred in a beautiful small village at the North East of Tobago, called Charlotteville. He loves and knows intimately, the village and its culture and the countryside and waters surrounding it. He spends his time welcoming and looking after visitors. He can usually be found on the lovely, isolated Pirates’ Bay beach looking after and feeding visitors, or taking people around Man’o’War Bay in his boat. If you are in trouble, nothing is too much for Sonson. He will always help you out. If in Charlotteville, just ask for Sonson.
Steve Salfield has spent several years in Charlotteville. He has many friends in the village but still struggles to understand or speak the local dialect. Many of the words in Chaalatville Tak are English and the grammar and sentence construction derive from African languages.
In Tobago, the dialect varies from one village to the next. So Sonson and Steve wrote this booklet of some of the Charlotteville dialect which we call “Chaalatville Taak.” Steve is not a trained linguist and has tried to translate the dialect phonetically but this may not always be formally correct.
Wi staat Man!
GREETING AND GENERAL CONVERSATION
What’s happening boy? (How are you? How’s it going?)
Wah? – What? short for What’s happening / how’s it going?
Mi gud. I’m good.
Mi aal rait. I’m all right.
Mi deh ya boi I’m there boy. I’m Okay.
Mi deh ya gahl. I’m there girl.
Yeahman – common greeting –
reply Evriting cool – everything is cool or Jas cool just Cool
Jas nau ah komin – just now, I’m coming (just a minute I’m coming)
Jas nau – just now – one minute
Ello – wen di bot goh inna di beh mi na waant ta get damage. Mi waant ya fo goh an kom bak gud.
Hello – when the boat goes into the bay I don’t want to get any damage. I want you to go and come back good (safe).
Mi kostom a dat. I’m accustomed to that Ah ent goh bai di bich yet ya noh.
I haven’t been to the beach yet you know.
Di si a likkle rof ya noh.
The sea’s a little rough you know.
Deh seh tolpin a goh stik a yo if Pirates Beh rof.
They say your oars will injure you if Pirates’ Bay is rough. Betta ya waak. You had better walk.
Allo, mi waak an kam bak.
Hello, I walked there and came back
An mi it bai Lyda – mi it bai shi an mah dring a bir.
And I ate at Lyda’s. I ate at her place and I drank a beer
Lyda get di ohlest baar in Chaalatville, fuh forty five yir, an shi mek di bes roti. Shi mek buss up shut.
Lyda had the oldest bar in Charlotteville, for forty five years, and she made the best rotis. She made buss up shut. (Rotis with torn pastry – like a bust up shirt or torn shirt)
Shi use to wain down langtaim.
She used to wine down a long time ago. (Winin is a West Indian, erotic dance, with the man dancing and thrusting behind the woman who wiggles her hips!)
A man tek mi laita an nah gi mi bak.
A man took my lighter and didn’t give it back to me
Betta ya lef ha, leh shi du shi ting, odawais ya get yasel a trable. Shi gan whip ya arse boi.
It would be better if you leave her to do her own thing, otherwise you will get yourself into trouble. She is going to whip your arse boy.
Boi, wah a gong orn dong a rohd. Mi ir nois. Dema fait o wah?
Boy what is going on down the road? I hear noise. Are they fighting or what?
Mi bort a ol bot. Mi baim a Spehsaid.
I bought an old boat. I bought it at Speyside. Mek ya na ir? Why don’t you listen?
Boi yu hardn? Boy are you hard of hearing?
Wi limin – we are liming (we are socialising)
Deh winin – they are wining (they are dancing – erotic dance with man dancing behind woman thrusting)
Meh kom fram tong. I have come from town.
Ma goh Charlatteville behain Gawd bak.
I am going to Charlotteville which is behind God’s back (in the middle of nowhere.)
Ma goh bek a tong. I go back to town.
Di ples nais – it’s a nice place
Deh ketch a big fish boi – They caught a big fish boy. Meh laikam – I like it.
An Chaalatville get gud fish an kokonut behk.
And Charlotteville has good fish and coconut bake.
It av gud fishahman hia langtaim.
There were good fishermen here a long time ago.
Deh fish wid bot an ketch big grooper.
They fished with boats and caught big groupers
An deh kot op a beh.
And they caught them in the bay
Mah goh dong a beh, goh bai fish.
I’m going down the bay, I’m going to buy fish
Langtaim man a bai fish fo i haner.
A long time ago a man would buy fish for his woman or mistress
Todeh pikni em laik ros behk an fish slais.
These days children like roast bake and fish slice.
Ma ketch fish, ya goh dong a rod ya shell a blo.
If I catch fish when you go down the road a shell (conch) will be blowing
Deh mosbi ketch big jacks.
They must have caught big jacks (jack fish).
Wah wi rich dong a beh deh ketch jacks a four dollah a pong.
When we arrived down the bay they had caught jacks – for four dollars a pound.
OLD CHAALATVILLE SAYINGS
Eef pikni na heer woman dem a dring hat waater wid out sugah.
If a child doesn’t listen to the woman they will have to drink hot water without sugar.
Mek ya taak a taak a taak laik ya massa it parrat aarse –
why do you talk and talk as if you have eaten a parrot’s arse? (Thanks to Sharon Holder)
Crapo smok ya paip.
Frog smoke your pipe (you are in big trouble).
Pok a pok noh bif.
Pork is pork not beef.(All good). An old saying, not in common usage but people find it amusing that a foreigner would know this.
CHAALATVILLE STORIES AND HISTORY Langtaim ah wi a goh a skul behfut.
A long time ago we went to school barefoot. Da min noh shu.
That means with no shoes.
Gris ya fut wid kohkohnot ayl.
You would grease your feet with coconut oil
An if ya mit leht di ticha a cot yoh back said an yah caant goh ohm an seh notin, bicaas yah get mah lik if ya goh ohm an taak.
And if you were late the teacher would hit your back side and you couldn’t go home and say anything, because you would get beaten more if you went home and talked.
An wen di ren faal ah wi a mek likkle boht wi a pencil fuh sel inna di dren nex tu di skul.
And when rain fell we would make little boat with a pencil to sail in the drain next to the school.
Evry maanin di pikni, dem av a tai di ship an goht wi di rop an dem goh ohm bak an behth te goh a skul.
Every morning the children, had to tie the sheep and goats with a rope and then they would go back home and bathe to go to school.
Pikni langtaim a goh a bush foh pik kohkoh wid Mami an Dadi.
A long time ago children would go to the bush to pick cocoa with Mammy and Daddy.
Mami an Dadi goh a Starwood, pikni av a goh luk kau bifoh goh a skul.
If Mammy and Daddy went to Starwood, the children would have to go and look after the cow before going to school.
Chaalatville pikni dring bush ti langtaim, bekaas ospital fah.
Charlotteville children would drink bush tea (meaning bush medicine) a long time ago, because the hospital was far away.
Onli tu kah langtaim in Chaalatville – Joysil an Mo-ammed.
There were only two cars in Chalotteville a long time ago – Joysil’s and Mohammed’s.
Ef yeh ata goh tong yah waak oh goh wid kah a Joysil.
If you had to go to town, you would walk or go in Joysil’s car.
Langtaim ahwi get caarnaval in Chaalatville wid Babbie pleh wail Indian Mas an Iron Daag pleh Jabjab Mas.
Long time ago we had carnival in Cville with Bobbie playing wild Indian Mas (Carnival parade) and Iron Dog playing Jabjab Mas.
An stihl paan ahn di strit an Lyda winin down. Yeah.
And steel pans on the street and Lyda was wining down. Yeah.
An Cardie adda a rom shop in Grin Carner, an bot te tek yu te Lohvers Bich an Ormitage.
And Cardie had a rum shop in Green Corner and a boat to take you to Lovers’ Beach and Hermitage
Tusi Falaton – was a giaant. (He was a very tall man from Hermitage)
An Torpin blo di budle evry marnin an eevnin fram tap av di ill. Jas nau ah kohmin.
And MrTurpin blew the bugle every morning and evening from the top of the hill – “I’m coming now”.
Langtaim agoh Stinge, a wohman, liv a Pirates Beh Rohd an Bonkyat, a man liv Pirates Beh Rod bai di bredfruit tri.
A long time ago Stinge, a woman, lived on Pirates’ Bay Road and Bonkyat, a man, lived on Pirates’ Bay Road near the breadfruit tree.
An i lef i fish in i pot an a kyat it di fish an lai doing in di pot.
And he left his fish in his pot and a cat ate the fish and lay down in the pot.
An Bonkyat cova doing di pot an lait di pot a faia, an i se di kyat tok an seh “ahh Mista Bonkyat, eez mi op nah.”
And Boncat covered the pot and lit the fire with the pot on it and he said the cat talked and said “ah Mister Boncat ease up on me now.”
Dat wai deh kaal im Bonkyat – i bon kyat – i ril nem wa Puddin.
That is why they called him Bonkyat – he burnt the cat – his real name was Puddin.
Julian otherwise known as Copperhead, was a wonderful character who lived at the bottom of Pirates’ Bay Road and his garden was above Pirates’ Bay.
Cappahed get i donki nem blak pant bai di Torpin kohkoh aus an arfta dat i tote gravel foh a Jorman maan op a Pirates Beh Bush fah eensaid. Disimal ples.
Copperhead had his donkey named Black Pant at the Turpins’ cocoa house, and after that he carried gravel for a German man up to the bush at Pirates’ Bay, far inside (deep in the bush). A dismal place.
When Copperhead was very old and ill:
Cappahed seh: Ma goh dong, meh goh a ded, mi nah mek di ondred.
Copperhead said “I’m going downhill, I’m going to die, I will not make it to a hundred.”
Crapo smok ya paip.
Frog smoke your pipe (you are in big trouble).
Bicos di wohman seh ya tief shi towel.
Because the woman says you stole her towel.
Mah goh kaal di polis. Dem a lok em ap. Mi sur ha hi.
I’m going to call the police. They will lock you up. I’m sure of it.
Bot shi fainam soh no polis na kam.
But she found them so the police didn’t come.
Boi dem gonna kot ye backsaid. Ye get weh.
Boy they are going to beat your backside. (They are going to give you hell). Keep away.
Mi winin bohn hat mi. Aw gash na mi piggie bohn.
My penis is hurting. Oh gosh my penis.
I lef i fon on da jeti. He left his phone on the jetty.
Blam was said to be the cleverest man in Charlotteville: Blam get nain ehzz in skul na. Blam got nine A’s in school now.
Im brait ya nah. Gud in mats. He was bright you know. Good in maths.
Eh giv pikni mats an deh cudn wok it aut. He gave children maths problems and they couldn’t work them out.
Bot afta dat i drink planti rom an di rom keri um a skin teet aislan.
But after that he drank plenty rum and the rum carried him to “Skin of the teeth” Island. (I think means to death?)
Mafube – ya boilam an wen ya dun boil ya pungam in a maarta an den ya cot op onyan, gaalic, swit peppa and fitwid (shadda bennie) an a likkle saalt, an ya gud te goh. An dat is a blogga.
Mafube (a kind of plantain) – you boil it and when you have boiled it you bash it in a mortar and then you cut up onion, garlic, sweet pepper and shaddo bennie (a West Indian herb) and a little salt, and you’re good to go. And that is a blogga.
(Thanks to Fitzgerald Dillon – known as Pinjamaan or Cat)
And also what Cat’s father said to him
Capsaiz an den ya goh noh hau much blue bin mek nain. Waak sef.
Fall over and then you will know how many blue beans make nine. Walk safe.
Wen yu no du di wok gud, awih kahl dat ratchifi.
If you don’t do good work we call that ratchifi.
Noh peh full prais fuh dat.
You don’t pay the full price for that.
Wantaim a man peh foh a wok a kohkoh pis, foh cotlass wok bot di man du ratchifi.
Once a man paid for work on a patch of cocoa, for cutlass work, but the man did a ratchifi.
I giim haaf peh, i seh mi got pikni fuh main, dat moni no inoff “mah goh chap op yo backsait, fuh di res”.
He gave him half pay. He said I have children of mine, that money isn’t enough. I’m going to chop your backside until you give me the rest.
Bot mi keri pipl fuh di wok, but di wok wasn gud an deh seh na peh di res.
But I need people to do the work, but the work wasn’t good and he said he wouldn’t pay the rest (of the money)
Mah goh ohm a mi aus an res.
I am going home to my house to rest.
Lehtah boi. See you later boy
Meh bi iam foh mi pikni dem. I will be home for my children
More writing about Charlotteville by Steve Salfield:
A history of Charlotteville, Tobago. https://stevesalfield.wordpress.com/a-brief-history-of- charlotteville-tobago/
Ivan Alleyne remembers. Booklet available from Steve Salfield