What Words Do

Preface: I wrote this in 2009. Apparently, I have been rambling for a long time. I wanted to share it because it still has relevance and I still have a fascination with colloquialisms and regional variations of terms. Also – I was born in Liverpool, England, moved to Barbados as a baby, moved back to England, moved to America and now reside in the UK again. Whew! That was a lot to type.

I was talking to my colleague at work yesterday and realised that words are powerful and can have endless meanings. Words are curious little things. We’ve all heard of the saying “You say potato, I say potato” but here are my memories of words:

– When I first moved to America, I accompanied my uncle to a public transport station to await my great-aunt’s arrival from work. She would be meeting us after getting off the TROLLEY. I sat in the car looking at the rail tracks wondering “Why on earth is this woman coming in a TROLLEY?” And more frantically “What type of country is this where people are being transported in a SHOPPING CART?” Then she arrived in a STREET CAR. Whewwwwww!!!



– While riding in the car with my co-worker in South Africa, he tells a friend of his over the phone that we will meet her at the ROBOTS. So I am thinking “Wow! Jo’burg is awesome and so advanced, I am going to see R2-D2’s cousin!” Only to chuckle when we arrive at the TRAFFIC LIGHTS at the nearest intersection.

– Alot of my friends are from Trinidad. One night a group of us were going out and a member of the group decided “It’s best we lime instead of going to a party” Its at this point I begin to wish I had stayed home instead of squashing limes or something. We spent the evening HANGING OUT.

– I love deep fried potatoes cut up with salt on them. In England I enjoy my CHIPS with lots of salt and vinegar and occasionally with some fish. Unfortunately, when my mum asked for CHIPS in the states, she was handed a bag of Lay’s potato CRISPS. And when it comes to those I prefer Walker’s cheese and onion CRISPS.

-While liming in BIM (Barbados, for those not in the know) I wanted to go to a party but my cousin said “Man, listen inside of there BURST, yeah” No, the club did not explode. It was simply CROWDED close to or past CAPACITY.

– Eating salads is not one of my favourite things to do but if you add some PEAR, I will devour it. Some people think this is strange but when they see me eating AVOCADO they concur.

– When in Boston or the Caribbean, someone may talk about a WICKED song or baseball play. They don’t mean it evil but think its GREAT.

– When its cold outside, my friend Daniella says “Its BRASS MONKEYS out here” A popular phrase in England but my US friends think “Why are you briging up a popular rap by the Beastie Boys?”

– My Trini friend (someone from Trinidad) in Boston often greets me by saying “What is your scene?” He is not asking me about my part in a play or movie but asking me what I have been up to and what my plans are. Another way he may ask this is ” What are you saying?” Not to be confused with “Repeat yourself”

– Back to my love of potatoes: When in Liverpool, it is a must that I visit Steve’s Chippy (please refer to above description of chips) I love SCALLOPS from Steves (of course with salt and vinegar). But it seems like when I step outside of Merseyside, everyone assumes I mean SEAFOOD. And when I get to the states, people believe I want potatoes covered in cheese sauce as opposed to potaoes battered and deep fried (similar to fish).

– I no longer chemically process my hair. But when I did it was done by a beautician that caters to black hair. When I was younger, I told my white friend that I get my hair PERMED and she wondered why my hair was so straight and her aunt’s was big and curly.

– Are you wondering how you put a suitcase in your BOOT? Well don’t try to shove it in your “TALL SHOE” because it would be uncomfortable. But do put it in the TRUNK of your car.

– When you want someone to pull up to your bumper in the states, you want someone to drive thier car very close to the back of yours. You say that in the Windies (West Indies) and you are inviting someone to dance on your posterior.

– “Can you give me a ring?” I ask my boyfriend. I am not asking him to propose, I just want him to call me.

– And please do not go around England asking for THONGS or TONGS expecting underwear when you are likely to get a CURLING IRON or FLAT IRON.

My creative juices are starting to dry up and my memory is fading. . . I hope you got something useful out of my ramble.

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  1. I got a kick out this post. This reminds me of conversations with New Yorkers when I first relocated there. I had to become diverse in a multitude of dialects.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “My Trini friend (someone from Trinidad) in Boston often greets me by saying “What is your scene?” He is not asking me about my part in a play or movie but asking me what I have been up to and what my plans are. Another way he may ask this is ” What are you saying?” Not to be confused with “Repeat yourself”- this is too funny!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lol this was funny…. Friggin Robots and Traffic lights…

    I know your face was like😐😐😐😐😑😑😑😑🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔then😞😞😞😞lol

    Liked by 1 person

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