tabanca - "the forlorn feeling that one gets, when a love affair is over".....Cote ce, Cote la







by Alloy

(c)copyright 1999

Trinis are a unique lot of people who can be spotted, 'a mile off' (as they say, in local parlance). They can be identified by their body language, speech, decorum, taste and even their judgement of time and space. They are very defensive of their peculiarities and feel offended when mistaken for any islander, other than a Trini.
" That's a Trini! " - These are the familiar words uttered when one hears 'Trini Speech.' Trinis speak with a three dimensional, stereo effect, set to the rhythm of song. For clarity, their speech is punctuated with sounds, similies; eye, hand and body movements which together, serve to remove any miscomprehensions of space, size, density, colour, texture and intensity from their communication.

A Trini's choice of words to describe a breadfruit falling from a tree, will fully describe the state of ripeness of the fruit, and where it fell. A ripe fruit falling to the ground, will fall, "BLAF!" whereas a ripe fruit, falling on a galvanised roof, will fall, "BLANG!" A green fruit on the other hand, will fall to the ground, "BUDUFF!" and that same fruit, falling on the same roof, will fall, "BLAGADANG!"
- A door will open, "Kreekes" and will close, "Badam! or "Clit-ticks!" depending on the force used to close it.
- A dripping water tap will drip, "plunks, plunks!" but when WASA reduces the water pressure, the water will drip, "chirrip, chirrip!"
- A gunshot will sound, "Potow!" but if the bullet ricrochets, the sound changes to, "Peeoweeeee!"
- Horses gallop, "Broogoodook! Broogoodook!"
- Depending on its size and the depth of water, a stone could fall, "Plunk!" or "Ploonks!" or "Ploochunk!" or "Splashaw!"
- A Trini's cry in pain, will denote the acuteness and intensity of the pain he or she is undergoing and can vary from, " WooY!", "OOOOOOOOHH!", "Ohyoyoy!", "SSSSSSSSSSS" and "AHYAYAYE!"
-His expression of Surprise: "Aha!"; "O Gawd!"; "Bon Jay!"; Oui Foute!
-His expression of Disgust: "Ah Chut!" (usually accompanied with a stamping of the feet)
- His expression of Joy- "Geez an ages!"
- His Salutations- "Woy!"; "Hey Man!"; "Chile!"; "All YUH"; "Breds" and even, "Stranger!"
- How does a Trini swallow a drink? "Gloodocks!"
- A sudden shower of rain falls, " Schwa!"

Trini women call each other, "chile"; the men call each other "boy" and the boys, call each other "man". If you think that confusing, they refer to any older person of the male sex as "uncle" and of the female sex, as "tantie." Individuals of two generations and older are called, "Granny," "Ma" or Pa" depending on their sex.

Trini words come from all languages, example, from French like - oui, laingniappe, la diablesse, petit pot chambre, toute bagaille, mouche coocoon, fete, farine, flambeau, camboulay, drievay, etc.
From Hindi- dhal, bhagee, channa, juta, bowgee, daroo, gobar, barra, chunkay, kari, paisa, etc.
Similarly, words are used from Spanish and other ethnic languages in everyday speech.

There are words that only Trinis use and understand, for example, birds, "ramajay"; people, "dingolay"; crabs, " caray"; rude people, "steupse"; careless people perform,"vie-ki-vie".
Only Trini's know, "Nancy Stories".
Boys have a, "totie"; men have a, "butu"; girls have a, "toonkooloonks"; women have a, "tuntun"; your sweetheart is, your "doo-doo"; a Venezuelan is a, "Pyol"; a bull's sex organ is a, "bull pissel".
When Trinis hang out, they, "liming" and only in Trinidad you can find a, "douglah" who is a "shugs"; or eat "farine and Zaboca."
You won't find these Trini body parts in any biology book- "Tot-tots, bam-bam, bumsee, tun-tun, toonie, pokie, totie, butu and nable"; Two people may get together to make," pakotee" or "zamee" but don't let them catch you eavesdropping, because the are sure to call you a, "mako". A physically challenged person is a, "brokofoot"; a fat woman is a " boobooloops"; a giddy head is called, "bazodee" and if you should fall into a fit of convulsions, you are considered to have "caught Malkadee."

Politically incorrect words of other cultures are words of endearment to fellow Trinis, like, "Coolie" or "nigger." Nicknames are commonly used amongst family, friends and neigbours and usually originate from a trait, habit or preference of the individual. Some examples are:- Rathead, Dr. Rat, Broko, Cheesey, Dazzler, Stinkin' toe, B-Flat, Finny Hand, Yampee, Slim, Stinky, Walking Dead, etc.

For a Trini, every situation or thing has a comparison to be drawn on from his surroundings. Here's how he describes the following:
- The blind- " Blind like a bat."
- Illogical Behaviour- " Mad like Mahal."
- A cheapskate - " So cheap, he wouldn't buy a glass of water for free."
- Lowly Behaviour - " So low, he could pass under a razor blade."
- Ugliness - " Ugly like sin" or "So ugly de mirror will break."
- Shamelessness - " When God was sharing shame, she went to de toilet."
- Stupidity - " He went to school in August."
- Trust in God - " God doh sleep."
- Karma - " Monkey say, 'cool breeze' "
- A Non- happening - "Wen cock get teeth."

A Trini's punctuality is atrocious and is recognised worldwide....his judgement of time and space is phenomenal i.e. phenomenally off. Tell him to arrive at eight and for sure he will be there for half past late! His idea of NOW is, 'Here'; LATER. is " Tomorrow sometime "; and YESTERDAY, propels an attack of amnesia. Ask a Trini when he he would likely finish a project and he will surely reply, " just now " or " later "- that could mean, in a few minutes or years hence.. Likewise, he lacks a sense of dimension in terms of linear measurement. A tall, overweight person will be described as, " tall as a lampost and wide like a bus."

Distance is another confusing proposition and again, linear measurements do not apply. Somewhere can be reached either by foot or by some means of transport, other than one's own volition. Any place that can be reached by foot is, "Just dey, " "not too far" or " just round de corner." Street names are hardly commited to memory so there is a tendency to use landmarks as reference points when giving directions. A typical example of directions given to find Mahase's house in an unfamiliar area will be like this:- "Yuh follow dis road 'til yuh reach a standpipe on de right .....Right after de standpipe, yuh go come to ah small dirt road on de right ....yuh pass it and continue straight until yuh get to a next one .......opposite to dat road, yuh will see a big, mako Mango Rose tree to it, is ah nodder trace .....take dat trace and yuh could arkse anybody yuh meet, where Mahase living ....Real easy to find man!"

Another thing about Trinis is that when they talk, they must articulate with their hands and body. Observe two Trinis carrying on a heated discussion and you will understand where the Japanese got their Karate moves. They stab the air with their hands, sometimes pointing up, down, sideways, make circular motions, touch, push, and shake the other party. It is like watching a silent movie with sound...

Trinis have a special gait when walking that have special names, " bump,"
"bump and grind ," "drag slipper," and " jock waist." Trini women walk with a unique sway of the hips, however, put her in the spotlight in a sexy new outfit and that sway, becomes a "jock waist"..... enough to eroticize any male.

It is said that Tinis love all the "F's" i.e. Food, Fun, Fete and Fashion. Their food must be spicy and varied.......Fete must be "long and hard," - " 'til yuh drop".........Fun, they must have, at work or play and Fashion, must be the latest, sexiest and most colorful.

A Trini in love, is at his best ..... Courting is redefined to an art form and is literally, a labour of love. More often than not, the woman will draw the man's attention by "sagashiating" her body. When she gets his attention, she starts to play, "hard to get." How does the Trini man react? If he's interested, he starts to "play dead to ketch corbeau alive" ......all the while checking her out, so as not to,"buy cat in bag." The courtship ritual could vary and may start by, "giving sweeteye", touching, pinching or even throwing pebbles at each other. The latter is called, "Tobago Love". During courtship, several names of endearment are used, for example, "Doods", "Doo-Doo", "Dahlin", "Pumkin", "Sugar", "Shugs", "Sugar-plum", "Sweetie" and even, "Toolum." Oftimes, the love turns sour and so does the names.....she becomes a"jagabat" or a "yardfowl" and he, a "peong" or a " hornerman." A jilted lover who has not got over the relationship is considered to be in a state of "tabanca", which has worsening stages. Ordinary "tabanca" is bad enough but "tabaca tajari" is worse and "tabanca najar" is the very worst. At this last stage the afflicted usually ends up in, "St.Anns." Some people retaliate to being jilted by resorting to "obeah" to "put a lite" on their ex-lover.

Get a Trini vex, well, you better had hide! In spite of his good naturedness, he can get " bad like a crab' and behave like a real 'canal conch. The very worse thing you can tell a Trini, is something about his natural mother. Worst of all, if one refers to her sexual organ in condemnation. That place is his Holy of all Holies, his Mecca, his place of Sanctity. Many acts of violence have resulted in defence of its desecration.

Trinis embrace life with the Spirit of Nature and in this way acknowledge their reverence of God and their fellowman. If he takes a liking to you, you are sure to know, for it will be reflected in his word and deed. However, if he chooses to ignore you, well ....... "Crapaud smoke yuh pipe!"


Alloy's stories

Ah trini

Buh wat dis worl'
coming to



Market day
in Arima

Trini spotting

Pan Dey!

Playing dead
to ketch
corbeau alive

suck she

Surviving y2k
Trini style

The bedbug