Friday, May 23, 2008

Peculiar Quashie Dialect


Odd Lingo That Is Spoken by the Natives of Jamaica.

A thing that fills you with amazement is the queer gibberish that is spoken here, writes Fannie B. Ward from Kingston, Jamaica. In this old English colony you expected to hear the English language, and they call it English and would feel greatly insulted if you intimated that it was not of the best.

We got a fair and easy sample of the "Quashie" dialect, as it is called, of the Jamaica negroes the moment we set foot on shore. Among the crowd clamoring to carry our things we singled out a big coal black fellow in a white linen suit, because he looked the most intelligent. In reply to the question how much he would charge to carry one trunk and two satchels to the custom house he yelled: "Hi Buckrah! I dat quick, quick fe quattie fe de lil tings an tanner fe tunk," which, as translated by our consul, who has grown familar with their murdering of the king's English, meant that he would do the job very quickly and would charge "quattie," or one quarter of an English sixpence (3 cents in our money), for each of the small packages and "tanner," a sixpence, for the trunk.

All the negro sentences appear to be constructed on the "baby talk" plan, and it rolls out in an oily stream from their thick lips, wholly unintelligible to the newcomer. The poorest of them are very polite to one another as well as to strangers, and it is amusing to hear a half naked wretch, hatless and shoeless, bowing low to another in the same condition and saying: "How do dis morn, marm? Hope um do be well, marm," and the response invariably is, "Quite well um dis morn, sar, thank um, sar." The use of "um" is not understood, but is constant, and it is always "sar" instead of "massa," as in slavery days.

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