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Island Talk

Growing up in the Caribbean, you learn to talk like your fellow islanders. There’s no West Indian “language” per se, but instead a unique group of patois that, depending on the island you come from, dictates one’s manner of speaking. In our islands—the British Virgin Islands—there are definitive accents and a whole slew of words and phrases that a non-Caribbean would find foreign. Accents and phraseology vary up and down the island chain. As natives, our ears are trained to differentiate between dialects: we can tell a Jamaican from a Virgin Islander from a Dominican, and so forth depending on how that person speaks. Conversations down here are peppered with delightful Caribbean phrases like “easy mon”, “jeez um bread”, or “limin”, and we always say "good morning" or "good afternoon".  (Salutations are a big deal in the Caribbean). Here are eight words we use daily when having a lime around Tortola:


Liming \ˈlīm-in’\ verb. –To relax and hang out.  "Le we tek a lime at de beach" or, "I limin’ da girl".

One time \ˈwən-ˈtīm\ adjective. – Now, or together.  "I could pass by you and collect the book one time".

Respect \ri-ˈspekt\ noun. – A solution meaning, well, respect.  Friends greet each other and part with "respect".  Almost always accompanies with a your right fist tapping your left chest.

Good-good \ˈgd -ˈgd\ adjective. – A characteristically Virgin Island phrase that means good, twice.  You can also say "Mornin', morning'", etc.

Bo Hog \bo -ˈhȯg, ˈhäg\ – another Virgin Island phrase, and kind of prosaic.  Means a bull shitter.  “Don’ listen to dat mon, he a bo hog”.

Raven \ˈrā-vən\ adjective. – hungry.  "Misson, I raven" means "Man, am I hungry".

Jeez um bread [Cheese and bread] \ˈjēz-əm-bred\ –an exclamation similar to “holy cow".  Car dealer: "Dos new tires dem cost $200 each".  Customer: "Jeez um bread".

Pie ass \ˈpī-ˈas\ – noun. Someone who acts foolish. Can also be used as a verb:  "Dat boy always pie assin' around".