Tag Archives: language

Language issues

Yesterday, as I payed for a pair of trousers, I was asked “Are you privileged?”
I was confused, but privileged?
Religious greetings are common “May you have a blessed day!” “God sure does like Bermuda today!” “Peace and Joy!” “Have a blessed one!”
So was this question along the same lines?

Bermuda has many churches of many varieties. Jamaica is reportedly the country with the highest number of churches, about 3 per square mile.
I have just counted 120 separate churches listed in the Bermuda yellow pages, at 21 square miles that makes over 5 per square mile or one church for every 541 people.
I am not a statistician but that looks to me as if Bermuda has more than Jamaica.

In 1612 when Bermuda was fist settled, James I was on the English throne, an adopted Anglican. As the child King of Scotland he had a strict Scottish Presbyterian upbringing which skewed his views of Presbyterians so as the English King he sat between the Catholics and Puritans. So not surprising that the first church built in Bermuda was Anglican : a wooden structure with palmetto leaves as a roof, sadly did not survive the storms. Built on the same site, St Peter’s Church in the town of St George is beautiful: a cedar interior, altar built in 1615, a three-tiered pulpit.



There are 12 Anglican churches in Bermuda, 13 African Methodist Episcopal, 11 Seventh Day Adventists, 8 Methodist, 8 Pentecostal, 6 Catholic, 4 Jehovah’s Witness, 1 Mormon and other individual churches too numerous to mention. Some services are broadcast on local television every day, and the Seventh Day Adventists have their own broadcasting station. Non-Christian religions exist here in smaller numbers – Muslims and Jews have listings in yellow pages but I cannot find Hindu or Buddhist places of worship.

Back to the question – Am I privileged?
In the end, nothing to do with religion at all, she was asking if I was a privileged customer and hence entitled to a discount! I confess that I am, a confession because one has to spend over a certain amount to become one and clearly that means I have been shopping here rather a lot.

It isn’t the first time I have been muddled by Bermudian language. In part it is the accent, a soft mix of American, British and West Indian. I came across a book entitled  “Bermewjan vurds”  – certainly not a joke, commonly the v is used in place of w, which apparently was also common in South West England in the 18th century.  I wonder if some of the accent came with the original adventurers?

Some of the variations are familiar (I worked in Tooting after all)
Axe for ask
De for the
Gotchyew for I understand
Innit for was that not so

Others are harder to work out
vansadee – midweek, also known as humpday
Tite – too bad, tough luck
Sweets me – I like it
Ohgly – more than just ugly, really ugly
Gribble – irritable, disagreeable

Then some just hurt my ears
Horspittle – hospital
Iggrunt – stupid
Lyeberry – a place with lots of books in it

I am sure I will return to UK with a lot of new words – here I put my shopping in a cart, use gas in my petrol tank, have a flashlight for emergencies, get crisps if I ask for chips, use steps instead of the elevator, and most important, order a take-out, not a take-away!