|English is the official and most widely spoken
language in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. For everyday use, however,
most Vincentians speak a local Creole dialect, called Vincentian English
or "Vincy" English. Creole follows grammatical rules derived from both
French and African languages, and its vocabulary includes French, Spanish,
English, Carib and African words. Creole has become associated with cultural
and national pride, especially among young people. Schools, which historically
forbade the use of Creole, are now encouraging its use in theatrical, literary
and public-speaking activities.
Vincentians maintain a strong oral culture.
Telling stories, discussing politics and exchanging gossip are important
daily activities. Children are expected to participate in conversation
|Most people follow politics closely and engage
in heated political discussions. Newspapers devote a great deal of space
to opinion columns and letters to the editor, and the public appreciates
writers who express controversial or witty points of view. Until recently,
public-speaking contests called tea meetings were traditionally
staged in the villages on holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Speakers
vied to win the audience's support through forceful arguments and a powerful
Storytelling abilities and confident conversational
styles are important aspects of education, and are believed to reflect
an individual's strength and intelligence. When meeting a friend, Vincentians
may offer a clever remark or witty challenge rather than a conventionally
polite phrase. There are many popular Vincentian sayings, such as, "Monkey
know which tree to climb" (don't anger that person or he'll get you), "Never
hang your hat where your hand cannot reach" (don't overextend yourself),
and "Shoulder can't go above head" (you can't overreach people in authority).
Did you know?
Vincentian sense of humour is evident in the names given to boats and taxis,
such as "Say Wha' Yo Like," "Mad Dog II," "Stragglin' Man" and "Why Ask?"