Words and Expression
Language is the primary means of perpetuating culture.
Its presence is a living representation of a people’s way of life. The disappearance or destruction of a language usually signals the replacement of one cultural system by another.
The most devastating impact on the Kalinago culture by the invasion of the European was the Kalinago language. Within four decades of Columbus’ landing, the entire Caribbean had been renamed. The flow of European immigrants, along with forced labour imposed on the indigenous people, helped diffuse the language and culture.
Until the 1920s, few Kalinago could speak or remember the language, while much emphasis was placed on learning the white man’s strange behavior. The Kalinago language was rapidly replaced by a French Kwéyol and, to a lesser extent, English.
Today, most Kalinago say they can’t speak a word in their native language. But many Kalinago names and words are in common use today.
Many villages in Waitukubuli have retained their Kalinago names:
Additionally, Kalinago words are used for plants, fruit, animals and everyday objects.
Traditional Kitchen Utensils:
- Couis – Calabash
- Cou-Cou – Type of Calabash
- Kaim Bouk
- Pikan – Small stick used to take out from the Canari
Fresh water and salt water fish
- Té Ta
Trees and Plants
- Si Si Zeb
- Si Si Rou
|Kalinago Word List|
|My Body||Na Nocobou|
|Ni Lamaha Tina||I am hungry|
|Ita Bia||How are you|
|Aitina Kalinago||I am Kalinago|
|Irufu Tina||I am Good|
|Ka Yamatetina||I have a basket|
|Itali?||What is the matter|
|Tiamatu Teiha||She is pretty|
For more on the Kalinago people, please visit the Ministry of Kalinago Affairs website.
Article by Prosper Paris