By now, you’re probably accustomed to your servers, bartenders, space cleaners, airport attendants, etc., to being well spoken, polite and masters of, what we Bahamians have dubbed, “The Queens English”. Because our main industry is tourism, often times, if you work in the said industry, you have to resort to code switching. Code switching is a fun little trick we play on tourists where we are professional and polite but if you “catch us outside” we’re completely different. Make no mistake, it’s not personal. I’m sure the way you are at your job is NOT how you are at home or with friends. The same principle applies here, only with more patois. So, in honor of our ability to dance in between the lines of professionalism and patois, here are a few commonly used words/Bahamian phrases that may come in handy during your travels. Feel free to use them on locals and watch how their mouths drop open at the shock that you are aware of our clever little secret.
Whatchusayin – Translation: What are you saying?
This is how Bahamians greet each other. It more or less means, “How are you?” It can also mean, “Is everything OK?” Because we tend to speak fast and speed up our words, we tend to combine the words in the name of brevity. Try it out. Say it as fast as you can.
Bey – Translation: Man/woman/term of endearment/warning. (Pronounced like Buoy but sped up considerably.)
This one is a bit harder to explain as the interpretation of the word depends on the tone used by the individual using it. Think of it like the word “Dude”. Dude could be a greeting, warning, threat, or celebration. “Bey” for us carries the same weight.
WellMuddaSick! – Translation: Well my mother is sick (but sped up for effect. Again, we’re a fast-talking people. This cannot be overstated.)
“WellMuddaSick!” loosely translates to, “Wow!” or “Holy Cow!!” It’s a term used when either something extremely good or something extremely bad happens. So it will carry the same weight if a man finds out his wife is pregnant and or if a woman finds out her favorite work event has been canceled. It’s alarm in its purest form.
Well Muddo! – Translation: Same meaning as “Wellmuddasick,” just shortened, I assume to save time? Again, it’s patois. I never said it would make sense; it just makes sense to us. LoL
Das a wibe! – Translation: “That’s a vibe,” i.e: “That’s quite the situation that’s transpiring.”
Firstly, notice the “T” in “That’s” and the “V” in “Vibe” have been changed to “D” and “W”, respectively. It’s a thing we do. “The woman” turns into “Da woman.” “Violin” becomes “Wiolin,” etc. This custom of switching up consonants is cultural, especially, among older Bahamians who, ironically, do so less than the younger Bahamians do. “Das a wibe” is just acknowledgement within a conversation that you hear their point or empathize with their situation and, without giving too much away, you support the person in question.
Yeah, ya see – Translation: “Indeed”. That’s the long and short of it really.
“Yeah, ya see” is usually what is said when a person vehemently agrees with you. Either that or they agree with actions that are about to transpire. Terrible thing to hear when drinking and someone orders shots, but I digress.
There are a ton more words, phrases and nuances to our language but these are for sure starter words for your new trip to our beautiful islands. But, if you’ve been here before and already knew those words and I’ve wasted your time for over 500 words, then, I simply say to you, Whatchusayin, bey? Everyting cool aye?