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Grenadian Word Salad

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

An author spotlight on Anthony DeRiggs, author of We Kinda Talk: A Grenadian Word Salad and how his book explains the way language on this Caribbean nation evolved.

By Michael Heath /

We Kinda Talk by Anthony DeRiggs
We Kinda Talk by Anthony DeRiggs

Grenadian English Is Not Necessarily the Queen’s English

The we in the catchy title We Kinda Talk: A Grenadian Word Salad by Anthony DeRiggs are the 112,000 inhabitants of the Caribbean nation of Grenada. I first learned of the small country in October of 1983 when President Reagan, fearing a communist takeover, sent in Army Special Forces to restore stability after a political coup. Known as the Island of Spice for its production of nutmeg and mace crops, the island nation has enjoyed relative peace ever since.

Three centuries of British rule help explain why English is the country’s official language. Indigenous people were the sole inhabitants until the French colonized parts of island in the 1600s. In 1763 the island was ceded to Great Britain through the Treaty of Paris. The French came and went for a brief period during British rule. In 1974 Grenada gained its independence.

Words Get Mixed In

The islanders may use English to communicate, but historical influences have caused them to blend it into their own local tongue. Many French words, especially names of places, have remained stubbornly in the local vernacular. Spanish explorers and sailors, as well as a labor force returning from building the Canal in Spanish-speaking Panama, left an impact on the island dialect. Even enslaved Africans and East Indian indentured servants brought their own words to mix in with English. Examples here are the popular African first name Cudjoe and East Indian dishes roti, dalpouri and archar that managed to remain in the local language. Even island neighbors have impacted the way Grenadians speak; e.g., titire is a widely eaten fishcake and a word coming from the Kalinago island people. All this tossing together of words from other places created what Grenadian author Anthony DeRiggs calls a word salad.

Grenadian conversations contain not only foreign and English words, but many distinctive terms. When the British took over, they did all they could to rid the island of French names and language. Those who held on to the French patois were admonished with Go to France! Today, those words are used in the way Americans would say: get the hell out of here! A much more inviting term is the completely Grenadian derived breeze out, which means to relax in the open air.

In Grenada Pop Culture Becomes Language Culture

For decades, Grenadians have had an affection for American culture that came to the island via television and theater. Islanders often enmeshed movie or show quotes into their speaking. A John Wayne movie gave Grenadians a way to suggest forgetting about someone: “Leave him to the buzzards.” DeRiggs still remembers his mother’s often used response when asked during easy times how things were: All is quiet on the Western front.

A Book that Is Both Fun and Useful

The author cautions that the book is not researched to the point of being academic but could be construed as educational and is certainly entertaining. Anyone intending to visit Grenada is encouraged to read this book to become acquainted with the island lingo. People who live in or visit the Caribbean will find the book relatable to previous encounters. Those enamored with island language will love this book. Enjoy this easy read. Be like a Grenadian, sit back in open air relaxation and simply breeze out.

To purchase We Kinda Talk on Amazon, go to:

Vince Pannullo of designed the We Kinda Talk book cover and interior. Contact Vince to discuss more about our book cover and interior design services.

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