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More Wise Sayings From the Creole Language of Saint Kitts

In a previous compilation of Wise Sayings, we observed that Standard English is the official language of Saint Kitts, and that the people sometimes speak their native Creole English for dramatic effect.

"All skin teet nah laugh." See the meaning in the table below.

Photo by Hans  Hillewaert
Photo by Hans Hillewaert | Source

In a workshop on Language Transmission, Language death and the Caribbean Child (2008), Dr. Rose Davies of the University of the West Indies remarked, " When language dies, culture dies." She counseled that it is important to pass on native languages to every future generation. The least we can do is to help the children read the language.

In addition to the previous twenty sayings, all of which had direct reference to animals, here are twenty more general, common sense sayings which offer wise counsel and laughter therapy simultaneously. In the process, we help keep our language and culture alive.

Our non-Kittitian readers can also try saying at least the one they like most. The visitor who can repeat one these sayings in an appropriate setting will become the star of the show.

More Wise Sayings

Creole Version
Standard English Interpretation
The Meaning
(1) All skin teet nah laugh.
Every grin is not laughter.
Smiles may deceive you; they do not always mean what you think they mean.
(2) Before good food waise ley belly bus.
Before good food waste, let belly burst.
Rather than let an opportunity pass, take whatever risk is involved.
(3) Dance a yard before you dance abroad.
Dance in the yard before you dance abroad.
You need to be good at whatever service or performance you want to offer to the public.
(4) De apple doan fall far from de tree.
The apple does not fall far from the tree.
Children most likely inherit their parents’ traits (good or bad).
(5) De dance cyarn pay for de light.
The dance cannot pay for the light.
The fun is not worth all the time, effort (or money) it takes.
(6) Every day bucket a go a well one day ee bottom mus drop out.
Every day the bucket goes to the well; one day the bottom must drop out.
The everyday privileges which we take for granted will not last forever.
(7) If you no walk wey fire dey ee nar go bun you.
If you do not walk where the fire is, it will not burn you.
If you avoid trouble, trouble will not find you. (Well, times have changed!)
(8) If you spit up in de sky ee boun to fall back in you face.
If you spit up in the sky, it must fall back in your face.
Whatever you cause (good or bad), must have an effect on you.
(9) Jumbie know who to frighten a dark night.
Jumbies know who they can frighten in the dark.
People know who they can provoke without suffering the consequences.
(10) Moon run till day ketch um.
The moon runs until day catches it.
Take all the chances you can get before the cycle comes to an end.
(11) One han cyarn clap.
One hand cannot clap.
We are like parts of one body; we need to cooperate with each other.
(12) Pickny who wouldn hear wha marmy say drink, pepper, lime an salt.
Children who do not hear what the mother says will drink pepper, lime and salt.
Children who do not heed their parents’ advice will suffer harsh consequences.
(13) See me an come live wid me a two different ting.
Seeing me and living with me are two different things.
Meeting people casually does not prepare you for what they will be like in close interaction.
(14) Today fu me tomorrow fu you.
Today is mine, tomorrow is yours.
We take turns being hit by the difficulties (or the pleasures) of life.
(15) Tom drunk, Tom no foolish.
Tom is drunk, Tom is not foolish.
Misbehaving while in a stupor does not free a man from responsibility for his actions.
(16) When you did a ditch fu me dig two.
When you dig one ditch for me, dig two (the other one for you).
Expect that whatever evil you plan for someone is likely to happen to you.
(17) Wha bun you a wa sweet me.
What burns you is what sweetens me.
The same thing that irritates one person, makes another person happy.
(18) Wha gone bad a marnin cyarn come good a evenin.
What goes bad in the morning cannot become good in the evening.
Something started with bad intentions cannot have good intentions when completed.
(19) Wey you ketch you cole cough it up dey.
Where you catch the cold, cough it up there.
Wherever you got into trouble, go back there to get help with your problems.
(20) Who no wuk a day wuk a night.
Who does not work in the day will have to work in the night.
Who does not perform their duties at the right time, will have to perform it at an inconvenient time.

Credit for keeping a record of these creole sayings goes to Creighton Pencheon, former Minister of Culture.

"His extensive research into the history and culture of St. Kitts-Nevis has made him one of the foremost authorities on local cultural traditions," according to his professional profile.

Creighton has recorded scores of these wise sayings in Local Sayings (2006).

© 2013 Dora Isaac Weithers

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Comments 35 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

There is some great wisdom in these. Thank you for sharing. Very interesting my friend.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

MsDora this is fun thanks for the second wave :)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Billybuc, you're very welcome. Thanks for affirming that there's wisdom in these sayings.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Frank, glad you find fun in them. This is the second and final wave.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Hi MsDora,

How very interesting! I loved these and thank you for sharing.

Voted up ++ and sharing

God bless, Faith Reaper


teacherjoe52 profile image

teacherjoe52 3 years ago

Good morning precious little sister.

Wow, these are inspiring and wonderful truths put in simple language.

May I the honour of using them in my articles please?

May The Holy Spirit bless you with many opportunities to share your wonderful wisdom with others.


Purpose Embraced profile image

Purpose Embraced 3 years ago from Jamaica

Hi MsDora, I find you hub very interesting. Most of the sayings are almost exact to some we use in Jamaica with the same meanings. For example, in Jamaica we say "Duppy know who fi frighten," which has the same meaning as your "Jumbie know who to frighten in the dark"

Thanks for sharing.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Faith Reaper, thanks for voting and sharing. Glad you found my native creole sayings worthy.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Teacher Joe, permission granted under the HubPages rules. Thanks so much for your continued support.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Purpose, I have discovered that many of these sayings are repeated on the islands with a native dialect change, as in your example. After all, they come from the same source. Thanks for your input.


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 3 years ago from Philippines

Thank you for these sayings. I have always wondered about Creole and this article has explained it to me and helped me to appreciate the contribution it makes overall in terms of linguistics and culture. The sayings themselves are filled with so much wisdom. I will share this with a facebook friend who named her daughter Creole:)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Grand Old Lady, wish I could know the reason that your friend chose than name. Creole as a name is very interesting, never heard of it. Anyway, I'm glad that you like these creole sayings, and I appreciate your comment.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa

Very interesting and cute idioms. Now I am really curious to know more about Saint Kitts and its native language! Voted up, informative and very useful.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Martie, you encourage me. Thank you, and I hope that you'll have time to read some more of my travel hubs which are mostly about Saint Kitts.


FullOfLoveSites profile image

FullOfLoveSites 3 years ago from United States

Interesting and offering great values. I like the combination of the English and the native language. Up and interesting. :)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Full, thanks for your kind comment. So glad you found the article interesting and valuable.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

Great hub. These were fun to read. I could figure out the meaning of a lot of the Creole, but sometimes the meaning I drew was a little different from what you list. I hope such sayings remain part of the living language.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Ron, thanks for reading. I'm sure that's its okay to translate your personal perception of what these sayings mean. "A little different" should not be harmful.


Kittitian 3 years ago

These are just a good MsDora. Thanks for keeping them alive.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

You're welcome, Kittitian. I enjoy reading and writing them.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Very wise sayings. Voted up.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Rajan. I appreciate the vote.


AmandaJon profile image

AmandaJon 3 years ago

A magnificent collection of wise sayings! This is a very wise words about life. Thank you Dora for sharing them with us!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

You're welcome. Amanda. Your comment makes me very happy.


AnointedFire profile image

AnointedFire 3 years ago from Saint Petersburg, Florida

Love it! I absolutely love wisdom. Thanks for sharing.


Hezekiah profile image

Hezekiah 3 years ago from Japan

Good collection, even though I have family from St. Kitts I didn't know most of these.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Hezekiah, hope you can visit your relatives in St. Kitts sometime. You'll learn even a few. Thanks for visiting this article.


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 2 years ago from Essex, UK

MsDora; this second collection of Creole St Kitts sayings is as good as the first! It is particularly useful that you provide both the original Creole and a literal translation, as well as the wider meaning of the proverb.

Many of course are universal sayings which have their own versions in other cultures (for example 'What burns you is what sweetens me' - we in the UK might say 'one man's meat is another man's poison'). I particularly like Nos 6, 11 and 18, but all have relevence and value. Voted up. Alun


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Alun. Thanks for your observation that different cultures teach the same lessons in different words. A group share would be very interesting!


asharie wrens 20 months ago

thank you so much im using it for homework


MsDora profile image

MsDora 20 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Asharie, glad to help anytime. I appreciate you saying thanks. Hope you score an "A."


teacherjoe52 profile image

teacherjoe52 20 months ago

Hello precious sister.

How are you?

I still pray for you every day.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 20 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Teacher Joe, what a pleasure to hear from you. Hope all is well. So encouraged to know that you still pray for me. I think of you occasionally and will be praying for you too. Thank you and God bless!


teacherjoe52 20 months ago

Hello precious sister.

I have returned home to Canada to care for my disabled, stubborn aged mother.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 19 months ago from The Caribbean Author

TeacherJoe, now that you are serving at home in a different capacity, I know that God's favor will continue to surround you.

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    Dora Isaac Weithers (MsDora)946 Followers
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    MsDora grew up, received early education and taught school in the Caribbean. Read her love and pride of St. Kitts - people and place.



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