The SPOILER’S RETURN Derek WALCOTT

‘Tell Desperadoes when you reach that hill
I decompose, but I composing still.’ ”
Derek Walcott
A statement so timely on the rot that pervades Trinidad that I had to double check the year it was written because I thought he was talking about our current state. We’ve been doing this nonsense for years.

Fadograph's Weblog

Derek Walcott, “The Spoiler’s Return” (1981)

(for Earl Lovelace)

I sit high on this bridge in Laventille,
watching that city where I left no will
but my own conscience and rum-eaten wit,
and limers passing see me where I sit,
ghost in brown gabardine, bones in a sack,
and bawl: “Ay, Spoiler, boy! When you come back?”
And those who bold don’t feel they out of place
to peel my limeskin back, and see a face
with eyes as cold as a dead macajuel,
and if they still can talk, I answer: “Hell.”
I have a room there where I keep a crown,
and Satan send me to check out this town.
Down there, that Hot Boy have a stereo
where, whole day, he does blast my caiso:
I beg him two weeks’ leave and he send me
back up, not as no bedbug or no flea,
but in this…

View original post 1,393 more words

Advertisements

Stickfighting: Gi Dem Bwa!

My new favourite thing for Carnival isn’t new at all. It’s a traditional martial art, or fighting style, that was born in Trinidad to African and Indian parents and seems to be having a revival. It’s called Kalinda or Stickfighting.

I first went to Stickfighting last year, and had a blast. My favourite thing are the singers and the drums. The grio singing style, the drums and the patwa lyircs make for an infectious combination.

This is my story about the finals competition last year.

This year I made it to the preliminary competition which took place at St. Mary’s Basketball Court in Moruga.

maruga-stickfighting

I missed the semis in Arima on Friday because of Army Fete. But my camera man went so I wrote up the story.

Did you see those match ups? Kinda bummed that I missed the action live.

These competitions are being organised by the National Carnival Commission, and they’ve just released the results. These are the Gayelles you will see on Wednesday in Skinner’s Park:

  1. VALIANT BROTHERS                    Oniel Odle                                                     
  2. ST. MARY’S NO. 1                          Roger Sambury                                            
  3. RIO CLARO                                      Michael Hernandez                                
  1. BOIS ACADEMY                             Rondell Benjamin

Remember, if yuh cyah breaks, doh play!

Save

Save

PROF. MERVYN ALLEYNE HAS PASSED AWAY — Repeating Islands

A message from the Department of English at the University of Puerto Rico. We offer the Department at his family our condolences. I (Lisa) want to personally acknowledge my gratitude for his great kindness and warmth, which I valued immensely: Mervyn Coleridge Alleyne (1933-2016) Mervyn was a renowned sociolinguist and dialectologist whose ground-breaking work on […]

via PROF. MERVYN ALLEYNE HAS PASSED AWAY — Repeating Islands

Talk Like a Trini

As a journalist, every day I struggle with my use of the language to properly express my thoughts and experiences. I am always worried that I am saying the wrong thing, especially in my news scripts. But outside of matters of grammar and expression, and beyond issues surrounding the creative use of language, one of my biggest concerns is using words and expressions that make sense here.

Post-Colonial Trinidad and Tobago reflects its reality in its language. Expressions like “it’s making cold” is a direct translation from the French, or patois (or patwa). Actually it’s patwa, not patois, in the same vein we should use kreole, not creole when writing in Trinidad and Tobago. Because patois reinforces a dominance that isn’t healthy to modern day Trinidad and Tobago. Think that I’m stretching it a bit? Ok, let me explain.

You still hear people talking about ‘good English’ or describing patwa as broken French. Neither are true. The bad English they’re referring to is the vernacular, which is, “the language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region.” It’s the first language you learn, and you’re usually  a fluent speaker before you’re introduced to formal classes. Standard English is the dialect of the upper classes, and has been set as the ideal form of all expression. And there is no one Standard English. There’s American, UK, Trinidadian and Jamaican Standard English. You probably already know the difference in American and English spelling. They have grammatical differences too, and the same can be found in the various Standard forms of English around the globe. Plus language is always changing. Words fall in and out of favour all the time. Some are lost forever, and others become fixtures in our vocabulary.

But the good and bad in the language we use has more to do with class than expression or effective communication. And that’s where we need to think about the value we place on the languages at our disposal. Especially here in the Caribbean. Do you really want to value the expression preferred by people who didn’t respect your ancestors? Who put systems in place so that our still valid cultural heritage remains insufficiently known and valued, and runs the risk of disappearing as the minutes pass by? Consider this, in 1797 when the English captured Trinidad of the 28,000 people living there at the time, 20,000 of them spoke patwa. (Let’s not even process what happened to the language of the First People’s, I lack the strength).

For instance, of great concern to me is the use of expressions, where the original meaning has changed, and obscured. In Trinidad, when you call someone an ‘old nigger’ you are calling them violent and hot tempered. ‘Bad John‘ is a good synonym (visit the link for the etymology of that expression) for Ole Nigger. But how did ole, or old, come to mean hot-tempered or violent? Well, it wasn’t because Caribbean elders were more angry that their European counterparts. It was because the expression, which is a straight translation from the patwa ‘Vyé Neg’, the word vyé refers to country. As in Old Country, as in Africa. Think about it, the newly arrive slaves would have been more prone to strikes, more likely to fight for their freedom, and extremely resistant to life on the plantation. The expression remained, but the origins have been forgotten. And I’ve been less inclined to use it as a derogatory term ever since I learned it’s history.

In my line of work I also have to listen to quite a lot of speeches. I’ve become very tired at our poor expression in formal settings when in any lime, we’re witty, sharp and prone to brilliant turns of phrases. Why doesn’t this happen when we write and deliver speeches? And why do we turn to quotes from Shakespeare, Dr. King or some overused cliché, when Dr. William’s was full of chat, as are our writers and calypsonians. We need to use local references more. But more on that in another post.

The Politics of Patwa (Patois)

An article by Doreen St. Félix for MTV.Com.

 While listening to a radio transmission in Kingston, Stuart Hall suddenly felt lost. It was the early 1970s, and Hall had temporarily returned to his home country of Jamaica after two decades abroad. Back in 1951, Hall had won a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford, at […]

via NEW TONGUES: THE POLITICS OF PATOIS IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM — Repeating Islands

Save