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Six of my favorite Bahamian expressions


Published: Jul 05, 2013

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As we celebrate our 40th anniversary as a nation, let's celebrate some of our favorite colloquial words, phrases and sentence structures indigenous to us.

There are two types of speech, formal and informal. Colloquial speech is informal, so that means it's not best suited in a professional setting, but these expressions belong to our culture and though they may not be the correct use of grammar, they definitely have their place. The key is to know the difference so that we are able to be appropriate for any setting.

These may not be for the workplace, but they're fun, relaxing and colorful.

One of my favorites is our tendency to use the present tense, even if we are talking about the past. For example, "He say, he'll be right back." The word said is used so scarcely, we forget it exists. But trust me, when we're telling a story or sharing some gossip "said" is just out of place.

The second is our incorrect use of the word "reach". This word means to extend or stretch, in other words "Reach for the stars." But in Bahamian vernacular, it can also mean arrive. So we say, "He just reach." Or my favorite, "I reach." Granted, some may find the corrected version a bit stuffy, such as "I've arrived." However," I'm here" is very acceptable in any setting.

The third is the incorrect use of the verb "to be", as in "I is be watchin' TV at 8:00pm." or "I is watch TV at 8:00pm." I don't know why we like to add extra unnecessary words, simply saying "I watch her" would be fine, but that's just “how we is say it”.

The fourth one we love to confuse is the usage of “do” and “does” or add the word “does” where it's not needed. For example, we may say "That's the way he is do it." The corrected version could save some words, "That's the way he does it." Or "He does go to church every Sunday." This should be "He goes to church every Sunday.” If you're reading this and unfamiliar with Bahamian English, it's hard to appreciate these idioms in writing. The beauty is hearing the oral version with the emphasis in the right places.

Fifth, another verb we butcher is "gone", but I love it: "He gone." This expression is a bit more emphatic than the proper word "left". "Man, I gone" is just more expressive than "I'm leaving."

Sixth, my final personal favorite is the way we turn a statement into a question, by adding the word "hey". "You goin' to the store hey?” This is a common way to structure a sentence, I'm not even talking about the fact that we leave out conjunctive verbs, as the verb "are" needs to be included in this sentence. If we actually structured this sentence as a question, it would be "Are you going to the store?" No "hey" needed. But the Bahamian in me will never abandon "hey".

• Kim Welcome is the CEO of Influential Voice, a communication trainer and coach, and she assists businesses and individuals to achieve their goals through helping them to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication skills. For more info, visit www.influentialvoice.com.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 July 2013 15:24

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