Cultural ComparisonsCulture

Turks and Caicos: The Language Behind the People

If you’ve been active on Twitter this year, you’re likely to be aware of the whole “Turks is Bahamas Jr.” debacle. However, if you’ve heard nothing about this, the entire debate stems from the TCI and the Bahamas being extremely similar to one another. Which makes sense, because if you think about it, every Turks and Caicos Islander has a Bahamian cousin and vice versa. However, besides the Bahamas, we’re also very similar to another country who we aren’t so close to – Bermuda.

History always has an impact

In primary school, we were all taught the history of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and with that, we learned that many of the original families of the TCI are actually Bermudian descendants. Now, we’re talking about things that happened centuries ago, and if you look around, TCI is definitely far from being as interconnected with Bermuda as it is with the Bahamas.

For years, I’ve had a few people tell me how Bermuda reminded them so much of home, but I didn’t believe it until I spent a few months there myself. One of the biggest things I noticed was how they spoke just like us, albeit with a slightly different accent, and the same can be said of the Bahamas. Some of the words, expressions and even pronunciations seem to prove our history with both of these countries.

Don’t believe it? A quick scroll through the Instagram pages of @iisabahamianbey and @bermemes, will have you falling over in laughter because you instantly relate with so many of the posts.

TCI and the Bahamas

When looking at Iisabahamianbey’s page, the similarity is clear as day. Words such as “terreckly,” “vex,” and “tingsie” make an appearance, which are all terms that we use on a daily basis (when we’re not code-switching, of course). Furthermore, they also feature the expression “you ga live long,” and if you’re from the TCI and have never used this expression, I have to assume that you have never spoken about someone only for them to end up showing up or calling you. 

Also, honorable mention: “fire engine.” If you’re unaware that corned beef and white rice goes by that name, then I suggest you keep watch of this site because we will be providing a Slang-tionary soon.

TCI and Bermuda

Meanwhile on Bermemes’ page, certain expressions definitely stand out. For example, the Bermudian phrase, “ya straight.” In TCI, we would say “you straight,” but nonetheless the multiple meanings behind that phrase remain the same for both countries. If it was posed as a question, it could have meant you wondered whether someone was okay, if they needed a ride or if they wanted to start a problem with you. Whereas, if it was a statement, then the meanings included telling someone they didn’t have to thank you or that you would take care of a situation for them. 

Another expression that stood out was the word “message.” Personally, I’ve rarely used this expression, but I’ve heard countless stories from my parents about how their parents would send them “go message” or that they would have to “bring message,” which literally could mean anything under the sun. “Message” meant either to go tell someone something, give someone something or bring something back from someone, and most times, the messenger didn’t know what they went “go message.” 

The Turks and Caicos Islands, is no country’s carbon copy

Overall, it is evident that the TCI shares many similarities in language to the Bahamas and Bermuda, but I must say that we are still very unique. I’m positive in the Bahamas and Bermuda, they both question about which family you’re from and who your parents are. However, even if you were to look “ta norrid, ta sorrid, ta eastid and ta westid,” you will not find another place asking “who mar is ya par.” Hence, the TCI is not the exact same, nor are we a watered-down copy of either country (I’m looking at you, those who think we’re Bahamas Jr.).

Featured photo courtesy of The Looking Glass.

Loren Hall

WAVES Correspondent

3 Comments

  1. Fun reading. There are some similarities but definite differences. Despite the close proximity and family ties to the Bah, we could never say ‘Maan’ like them 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  2. We also share dialect, culture and history with the Gullah Geechee people of Sapelo Island, South Carolina…. They can trace lineage back to Haulover on Middle Caicos here in TCI. Researching about this now as a matter of fact.

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