Friday, May 7, 2010

Well, I guess it's about time...

...I explain the meaning of, "When I Reach".


Simply, it's a Bahamian expression that is used to describe the timely manner in which a person (or thing) is to arrive at a particular destination.

For example:

Customer:  "When you be gittin' here to fix da baker?"
Repairman:  "When I reach."


Bahamasair Passenger:  "What time is da next flight to Nassau?"
Bahamasair Ticket Agent:  "When da plane comes back from Nassau."
Passenger: "When dat be??"
Agent:  "When it reach."

There are various Bahamian words and expressions used to describe things, actions, feelings, people, etc., not to mention those that would describe the reliability and punctuality of Bahamasair (which will remain unmentioned here).

Some of them are:
  • "vex"  -  to become angry or cause anger:  "You vex me."
  • "tingum"  or "ting" -  thing:  "Bring me dat tingum over der."
  • "nex'" or "next"  -  other, another:  "Dis damn tingum not workin'.  Bring me de nex' one."
  • "vimon" and "vimen"  - the singular and plural forms, respectively,  for woman:  "Damn vimon, she done burn dem fish."
  • "ho" - what some people (usually vimen) disrespectfully say just before they abruptly put you on hold:
    Caller:  "Can I please speak to..."
    From the other end of the phone:  "Ho."
  • "Potcake" - a term used to describe the overcooked or burnt rice stuck to the bottom of the pot that was fed to the dog, now includes the description of the mixed breed of dog that has become indigenous to the islands.
  • "teet" - teeth,  sometimes 'tit', but not to be confused with:
  • "suk teet" - refers to the latter definition above -  no explanation necessary.
  • "dis", "dat", "dem" , "de" and "der" - also self-explanatory
And so on.

One of the words that had me scratching my head for some time, is "killamadik".  It's the Bahamian name for a common night bird that inhabits the islands and, if you're are unlucky enough, it will decide to nest just outside your bedroom window and sing.  Very loudly.  All night long.

"Killamadik"  is also a term used by Bahamian men to describe the effect the bird's song has on their 'dangling participles' when they want to well,  you know.  (Yet another shameless use of that euphemism - sorry, but it fit).  I asked around and no one here could give the proper name of the bird but I eventually found it.  Since I couldn't find an audio clip for this post (and I'm not overly adept at all this Internet/posting/formatting shit), you can follow this link which has the bird's song:  Killamadik.

There is one thing that I cannot tolerate: the way some people pronounce word,  "conch".  Now, I realize that two pronunciations are given in the dictionary (God only knows where the second one came from), but  'konk' and not 'konch', is more acceptable, especially to conch vendors here who, should you use the latter,  will probably snicker and overcharge you for your purchase of the gastropods.

So, there you go:  a brief and (hopefully) informative lesson of Bahamianese.  Until I reach again, you be learned.

Post posting edit:  "suk teet" also means, to 'suck your teeth' in response to an insult or other derogatory remark, something like "tsk".


  1. Great. I think I'm going to start using "when I reach" all the time now. "When are you going to mow the grass?" "When I reach." "When are you going to do all the weeding?" "When I reach." "When are you going to start marking essays?" "When I reach." (Actually, that last I won't have to worry about until next fall -- unfortunately.)

    I love hearing about expressions from other cultures. Nice post.

  2. Thanks Frank! There are many more, but it would have made for a very long post. Maybe I'll do the occasional sequel.

    I hate chores too, hence my 'profession'.

    (p.s. A "Happy Mom's Day" to your 'vimon'.)

  3. Ooops, I forgot to mention this, but you could also say, "I'd be reachin' it." in response to those queries.


  4. I recently vowed not to comment on any more posts, but this one was so good I can't help myself. Like Frank, when I reach will now be my favorite expression, and not just for yardwork. When the kids ask me what time dinner will be served, I'll just say when I reach. Maybe if I say it enough times, they'll get a clue. Damn kids. They vex me more than potcake.

  5. Thanks Mike! Heh heh, dem chirren are always wantin' us to be feedin' dem sompin'.

    Don't knock potcake of the rice kind. I use Basmati rice and if it's not too charred, the potcake is crunchy and quite tasty.