As we keep on importing new words into our Grenadian vocabulary, some historical and traditional words are fading away. Therefore, it creates a new copycat culture for this present generation of Grenadians to gravitate toward a North American version of the English language.
Growing up as a small boy, I remember the word “nana” was frequently used by residents within the rural villages to express certain behaviours during some activities. However, the word “nana” had two different meanings
For example, the word “nana” was used frequently during kite flying season, when a young boy robbed another young boy’s kite and thread. The young boy whose kite was stolen in his absence used to say, somebody “nana” his kite and thread.
Nowadays kite flyers are not saying another somebody “nana” their kite because young people today do not know that word. So, with time over the years, the word “nana” is no longer popular within our local Grenadian English usage as a means of communication to describe an activity.
In addition, the word “nana” was also used to tell little children to come and eat some food. It was very common to hear grandparents, especially the grandmothers telling their grandchildren to come and “nana” some food or come for your “nana.” In that specific context, “nana” means to eat. Also, the little children will follow their grandparents’ command to come and sit down and eat some food.
Now, we are using imported North American words such as “kids” to describe children from adults. Parents, teachers and other adults are calling children “kids,” and it has become part of the norms because we accept the word into our Grenadian language of communication.
We accept the word “kids” because it is more commonly used in North America and now it is sort of accepted in the English dictionary. So, we do not have a problem calling Grenadian children “kids” because it sounded cool. It is not a Caribbean patois word or an isolated Grenadian word coined into our local vocabulary.
In addition, we are using the word “like” too regularly within our Grenadian vocabulary. Whenever I listen to younger Grenadians speaking, they tend to use the word “like” very frequently as North American youths. Every sentence they make, when they are speaking, they keep on using the word “like” as a form of sequencing.
In addition, a lot of our young educated Grenadians are using the new phrase “and stuff like that” regularly to prove their point in discussion and argument. However, “and stuff like that” is a North American phrase newly imported into our local Grenadian English.
On the other hand, some educated Grenadians are living in North America who hate to hear Grenadians back home using the word “persons” instead of saying people. However, these are the same Grenadians in North America who prefer to spell certain words like Americans, rather than spelling in the original British correct method that they were taught at school in Grenada.
For example, Grenadians living in the United States spell the word “labour” as “labor” and “neighbour” as “neighbor” but are quick to make negative criticism about Grenadians back home using the word “persons” more regular that “people.”
So, you see me! I do not want to get involved in this English language argument. I believe that language is communication. The main thing is to understand each other through the language communication because the first time I heard Americans saying, “I Rock” for “Iraq” and “I Ran” for “Iran,” on their television broadcasts, I was baffled. However, I come to realise that is the way Americans speak to communicate with each other.
Therefore, if the Americans can create their version of speaking English and spelling some English words different from the original British English language, then why some of us Grenadians living in North America keep on criticising Grenadians back home for saying “persons” instead of people? I believe we have our version of English also and it is good.
(Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapers)