How to Spot a Trini: A Trini Slang Cheat Sheet

Words by Tishanna Williams
Photo by Colin Williams
mark-hardy-yung-rudd-2

The rap duo Mark Hardy and Isaac “Yung Rudd” Rudder seem to have hit a nerve in Trinidad, with the release of their single, “Iz A Trini.”

Hardy and Rudder have coined the term “trapso” to describe their fusion of Trini rapso and trap music, and they’ve stuffed as much Trinbago vibes as possible into the lyrics and video for the song, which was produced by Mevon Seeblal of Xplicit Entertainment and also features spoken-word artist/rapper Jimmy October. Cameos from Trinidad James, calypsonian Sugar Aloes and Caribbean music icon (and Yung Rudd’s dad) David Rudder are just the tip of the iceberg in this anthem that has been heating up Trinidad & Tobago’s airwaves since its release earlier this year.

LargeUp took a listen, and liked what we heard, but what we liked even more were the large amounts of local references, some of which could even be used by immigration to determine a real Trini from a fake. Parsing the track’s lyrics, we ended up with this list of things only a Trini will really understand. For the aid of everybody else, we’ve put together this cheat sheet to help you get the picture.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHi-j7ORuYQ

“IZ”

Let’s start with the first word of the track’s title. True Trinis, when speaking to other true Trinis in Trinidad dialect, will use or add “IZ” (pronounced ‘EYEZ’) to words to replace the various forms of conjugation for the verb “to be.” For example,

“I am a Trini” = “Iz a Trini”

“Is that yours?” = “Daiz yours?”

“What is this?” = “Waiz this”

Punch

Rudd and Hardy mentioned the famous Harry’s Punch in their track to describe how sweet and thick the ladies of Trinidad are. Anyone that has had a taste of either will surely agree. But only a true Trini will fully recognize the importance of the punchman, especially for men, with their special blends of milk, banana, beetroot, chickpeas and other fruits and veggies, depending on what you need. And we do mean what you need. Every punchman worth their salt always has something special, or, as a Trini would say, “something for the back.” These drinks often have names like “The Bomb” or “Lady Killer” and are concocted with roots and herbs for the guy looking for a little extra libido push.

Duck Work on Friday/After Work Limes

In Trinidad, the work week ends on Thursday. If we do go to work on Friday, the body may be in the office but all real Trinis have already clocked out mentally and are preparing for their weekend like your mom preps for church. If you didn’t get your business done by noon on Friday, come to terms with waiting ’til the next week cause the lime starts from after lunch.

“Doubles with Slight”

Only a true Trini will know that “slight” is relative when ordering T&T’s favorite street food. A particular knowledge of your doubles man and the many ways of enunciating the word “slight” is necessary to ensure that you don’t end up with your mouth on fire from the heat or, worse, “steupsing”—noisily and disrespectfully sucking your teeth — at the lack of spiciness. When ordering from a doubles man known for adding lots of pepper, you may need to stretch out the word to get your point across.

e.g. “Give me one with sliiiiiiiiight pepper”

Washikong/ Pallet Man

If your mom made you go to school in these as a kid, you were teased mercilessly. The only time these cloth shoes with rubber soles were acceptable was when you had to march for your school or on community sports day.

Murray Street

It’s located on the famous Ariapita Avenue but it was famous way before Ariapita itself was. We will leave this one for you to figure out. If you don’t know, ask a Trini.

Soup Saturday

Trinis know that, whether you from country or town, if you visit someone’s house on a Saturday, you are likely to find a pot of soup bubbling. Please note this isn’t your pumpkin or spinach or tomato soup business. When you’re talking Trini soup, you’re talking chicken foot soup, cow heel soup and corn soup to name a few. Also, the Trini will know that no matter what veggie or ground provision (yams, potatoes, carrots, etc.) you put in, the soup is not a real soup unless there are dumplins (note: Trinis do not say ‘dumplings’).

Giving Directions

If you ask someone for directions, and they respond anything like this:

“Go down so [gestures with hand] and you will see a pink building with a sign in front. Turn up the next street and walk until you meet a big mango tree. Ask anybody there for [insert name here]. They will tell you where to go.”

They just may be a Trini. And  if you can understand it and find the place easily, well…

The Pothound

Ladies and gents, if someone tells you they are from Trinidad and yet have no idea what a pothound is… They iz not a Trini. Every Trinidadian either owns or at least have seen these short-haired dogs of indeterminate breed roaming the streets.