Some Grenadians importing American English


By Hudson George

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 towards North America version of 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 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. And 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 sounding 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 regular 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” on a regular basis 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, there are some educated Grenadians living in North America who hate to hear Grenadians back home using the word “persons” instead of saying people.  But these are the same Grenadians in North America who prefer to spell certain words as 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 they 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 totally confused. However, I come to realise that is the way Americans speak to communicate with each other.

Therefore, if the Americans can create their own 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 own version of English too and it is good.



A writer from Grenada living in Canada

3 thoughts on “Some Grenadians importing American English”

  1. Brother George,
    Within the history of all countries social adaptation efforts, one can find the hegemonic influences of another with language being of no exception.
    We in Grenada had evolved from our varied African native language to adopt those of the French and later the British; the one commonality being whoever had won the imperialist war. The evidence still remains to this day of the French influences in what can be determined as a “hybrid language base”.

    What we are experiencing now is the American influence on our language but without the underpinning of a blatant imperialist dominant approach, even though they had won the war against the British. In this case, it is one of adaptation via news, social media and our returning nationals influences.

    It was bound to happen.

    The letter “Z” (pronounced “zed” in customary English) would become “zee” with American influence; so would “naught and zero” and they will not have any significant relevance.

    Monsieur Louison, the gentleman from the French Quarters

    1. Hudson George – I am a Grenadian writer who thinks out of the box. I use my creative imagination and organised my writing. I believe words are powerful weapons. So, I write to tell my stories.

      Monsieur Louison, Do you think that we have evolved or we have become copycats? We cannot talk about promoting proper grammar and good English by copying the American standard of English and looking down on our home grown Grenadian English. “Z” is “Zee” in North America. But that does not make it originally correct. So, in Grenada when we say “persons” it should be accepted because we are communicating in our Grenadian standard of English just as the Americans have their own standard of English.

    2. Hudson George – I am a Grenadian writer who thinks out of the box. I use my creative imagination and organised my writing. I believe words are powerful weapons. So, I write to tell my stories.

      Monsieur Louison, It is morally wrong for Grenadians in the American diaspora to dictate what is standard English for Grenadians back home.

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