A Guide to Understanding Saint Lucians

Saint Lucia’s official language is the Queen’s English; however, we have a second language – Kwéyòl or Patois (Pat-wa). Roughly 95% of native Saint Lucians speak Patois, making for some colourful phrases that serve to spice up our dialect. 

Don’t worry; you won’t have much of a problem understanding us, because Saint Lucians have a special ability to be able to adopt any accent at the drop of a hat! We may be the most easily understood in the Caribbean but we do have our own quirks that we’re unusually proud of. For example, we often end sentences with an “ee”, “eh” or “uh”. As always, Team TT has you covered in deciphering what a local may mean by certain terms:

1. Asiay/Masiay/Mama (Aye-si-aye/May-si-aye/Muh-muh)

These terms are interchangeable and technically translate to: “like, really?” or “Wow!” They usually express annoyance or surprise. E.g. “Masiay, that’s a lot of rain!” or “Mama, she really looks good today!” You’ll hear the words in a sing-song manner and the sound is stretched as long as one breath can hold it: “Aaaaassiiiaayyyyy”

2. Bondye/Bondouse (Baw-diaye/Baw-doose)

Bondye literally translates to “God” or “Good God” and Bondouse means “My God”. If you hear those words used out of a prayer or solemn conversation it’s usually to show surprise like the English phrase “Oh, My God!” Although, Saint Lucian’s often believe the Lord’s name should not be used in vain due to their strong religious identity, it doesn’t stop us from shouting the Creole translation on a daily basis.

3. Oye/Gason/Gasa/Gah (Gah-suh/Gas-sah)

Gason is the Patois word for boy and it’s used when adults need to summon little boys. Over time the word evolved to “gasa” when boys or young men began using it to address each other. “Gah” is a shortened form of “gasa” and “oye” is used for the same purposes. You’d hear young people calling each other “gah” and “oye” in most informal settings and of both genders.

4. “How is me?”

You will never hear that phrase without an “uh” at the end. “How is me, uh?” This little question translates to “Why me?” with a rude or displeased inclination. It’s used when someone has been falsely or jokingly accused of something.

5. “You lie!”

This phrase is a shortened form of “That is not true,” or “You have got to be kidding me”. So, don’t feel offended if you suddenly hear someone call you a liar! It’s just our way of expressing amazement or shock. “You lie! Those are not your real nails!”

6. “Since the time/day” (dépi jou sa-a)

This phrase simply expresses annoyance of the amount of time someone takes to accomplish something. “You got the home-work since the day and you’re now doing it?”

7. “Lucian time”

If there is one thing you should know about Saint Lucians, it’s that we know how to find the lighter side of everything. Sometimes it’s good, other times . . . not so much – especially when time is of the essence. Saint Lucian’s aren’t known for their punctuality and “Lucian time” means the time that a Saint Lucian will actually arrive to an event. It is generally accepted on the island to expect people to be at least 10-15 minutes late (some are known to be more like 30 minutes to an hour late!). “Lucian time” is also used in reference to when an event will start. A party or some sort of function may be advertised to set at 9:30 p.m. but won’t start until 10:00 p.m.! Lucians have learned to go with the flow and tend not to get too upset when these things happen. Welcome to island living!