If you are a tourist, have you ever passed a group of Bajans speaking and thought to yourself, “what on earth are those people saying?” Have any of you younger Barbadians been at a family gathering when all of a sudden great-grandma exclaims “one smart get catch at two smart door”, everyone starts laughing and you just sit there wondering what just happened? Are you just curious as to what some of these old Bajan sayings that you hear on a daily basis mean? Then this article is for you. Each Caribbean country has its own vernacular and therefore, in this two part series, we will take a brief look at some of the more popular sayings in Barbados, their meanings and also a glossary of terms for some of the most widely used Bajan words.
Bajan Saying: If you didn’t at de christening, yuh shouldn’t be at de wedding.
Meaning: Do not get involved in something if you do not know how it started.
Bajan Saying: Bucket gine up and down in well evah day, de bottom boun’ tuh drop out.
Meaning: Sustained pressure and exertion will eventually lead to a breakdown.
Bajan Saying: Tekking time ain’t laziness.
Meaning: Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Bajan Saying: One smart dead at too smart door.
Meaning: You can’t trick a trickster.
Bajan Saying: Day does run til night catch he.
Meaning: Things always catch up with you.
Bajan Saying: Ya could hide and buy land but ya can’t hide and work um.
Meaning: What happens in the dark will always come to light.
Bajan Saying: De higher de monkey climb, de more ’e show ’e tail.
Meaning: The more you show off, the more your faults are brought to the open.
Bajan Saying: Evah skin-teet en’ a laugh.
Meaning: Not all outward signs of friendliness should be taken as genuine.
Bajan Saying: Gih Jack ‘e jacket.
Meaning: Give credit where credit is due.
Bajan Saying: Yuh got plaster fuh evah sore.
Meaning: You have an answer for everything.
Bajan Saying: Yuh can’ plant yam and reap eddoe.
Meaning: Your reward or punishment is in line with your actions.
Bajan Saying: De tongue dat buy you does sell you.
Meaning: The same person that flatters you, may betray you later.
Bajan Saying: Every dog got’eday.
Meaning: What goes around comes around.
Bajan Saying: De more yuh look de less yuh see.
Meaning: If you are spying on someone there are going to find ways to trick you.
Bajan Saying: Trouble don’t setup like rain.
Meaning: Misfortune often happens without any warning signs.
Bajan Saying: Who de cap fit, leh he draw de string.
Meaning: The person who knows he is guilty about something will react accordingly.
Bajan Saying: White mout fowl does eat and den wipe ‘e mout in de grass.
Meaning: Some people don’t show gratitude.
Bajan Saying: Dead man can’t run from ‘e coffin.
Meaning: It is impossible to run from your responsibilities.
Bajan Saying: Don’t tek a six fuh a nine.
Meaning: Do not misunderstand a person’s real intentions.
Bajan Saying: De devil does find work fuh idle hands to do.
Meaning: People with nothing to do, get themselves into mischief.
Bajan Saying: Cheap tings nuh good.
Meaning: Beware when things come too easy.
Bajan Saying: God doan like ugly.
Meaning: Disapproval of injustice.
Bajan Saying: Wha’ sweeten goat mout does bun ‘e tail.
Meaning: A source of great pleasure may turn out to be a problem later on.
Bajan Saying: Who help yuh buy a big guts mule don’ help yuh feed it.
Meaning: The person who leads you into trouble is never around to help you get back out of it.
Bajan Saying: Hard ears yuh won’t hear, by and by you gine feel.
Meaning: If you do not take heed to good advice, you will feel the negative effects of it.
Bajan Saying: Talk does mek talk.
Meaning: When somebody tries to pick a quarrel, it is best to remain silent.
Bajan Saying: Wuhever pun de ground is fuh de cat and de dog.
Meaning: Finders keepers
Bajan Saying: If black bird fly wid pigeon ‘e will get shoot.
Meaning: If you associate with the wrong people you will get the same treatment that they do.
Bajan Saying: Monkey see, monkey do.
Meaning: A mild reprimand for imitating the behavior of others.
Bajan Saying: Nuh name, nuh blame, nuh lock up.
Meaning: If no names are called, no one can be accused.
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