Trinidad and Tobago was blessed to have many influences added to our melting pot. You can certainly see these different influences in the names of our towns and villages.
Of course, we Trinbagonians love to put our own spin on things.
There are differences in the way we pronounce things and in how we refer to many well-known places. The thing is, you can easily identify the place no matter how it is said.
Here is a list of 10 of these places with their different aliases/pronunciations.
1. Sangre Grande – Sandy Grandy, Grandee
Sangre Grande is the largest town in northeastern Trinidad. The name, which means “Big Blood”, is said to have originated from some Spanish surveyors who found that the waters from the nearby Oropouche River were as red as blood. Of course, when you hear us pronounce the name, you would think that the town was named after a woman with a catchy name or had something to do with Solomon Grundy.
2. Diego Martin – Daygo Martin, Daygo
This town is named after Spanish explorer Don Diego Martin. It is an urban centre west of the capital city of Port of Spain. It consists of a cluster of communities, including Patna Village, Sierra Leone and Petit Valley. When you walk along South Quay (South Key), you will come across the yellow-band maxis that can take you there. You might possibly hear, “Dayyyy-go! Me say Dayyy-go!”
3. Preysal – Preesal, Praysal
Preysal is one the main population centres in Couva. If anyone was giving directions to central or south Trinidad, the Couva/Preysal flyover would definitely be a landmark. This flyover was one of the most congested flyovers in the country but was upgraded some years ago to alleviate this problem. You could say the commuters’ “Preyers” were answered.
4. Princes Town – Prehs Tung (taxi drivers), Princess Tong, Princiss Tong
How old were you when you realised that this town wasn’t named after a Princess but two Princes? This town in south Trinidad was founded as the Amerindian Mission of the Savana Grande. It was renamed after a visit by Queen Victoria’s grandsons, Prince Albert and Prince George in 1880. The poui trees that these princes planted still stand today.
5. San Juan – Sah Wah
San Juan is named after San Juan Baptista or St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of the town. This town is always bustling with activity. Maybe that is why we don’t have time to pronounce it properly.
Things get even more complex when you mention the town’s focal point known as the Croisee. Well, perhaps known is not the appropriate word. This popular junction is known as the “Kwaysay”. Croisee is French Creole for “crossroads” but you would find yourself at a dead-end if you try to ask us to spell it.
6. Champs Fleurs – Sham Flare
Moving a bit east of “Sah Wah”, we come to the town of Champs Fleurs, which doesn’t have as many flower fields as the French name suggests. This town has a lot of industrial activities since it connects two major transit routes. Not that anyone would even think of flower fields the way we pronounce it. Us Trinbagonians always butcher the French language!
7. Les Coteaux – Lez Cootoo, Lay Cootoo
The translation of the name of this village in Tobago will tell you what you can find here – The Hills. Of course, Les Coteaux is a much fancier way of saying that, but it is an up-coteau battle for us to pronounce or spell it correctly.
8. Parlatuvier – Pahlartoovay
Parlatuvier Bay is a secluded gem located on the northwestern end of Tobago. It is best known for its 200-metre jetty since fishing is a major part of the villagers’ livelihood. The rustic beauty of this bay overrides the fact that we may not being doing its French-influenced name any justice.
9. Siparia – Sipahria, Siperia, Sipaaaria
Heading back to the southland of Trinidad, the town of Siparia was originally an Amerindian settlement. It is the location for the annual “La Divina Pastora” festival. The statue is celebrated by Catholics during this festival and also by Hindus in a separate celebration called the “Siparia Fete”.
10. Guayaguayare – Guaya, Guaya????
This village lies at the southern end of the county of Mayaro. While it might be the last village of the country, it was actually the first area sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1498.
Guayaguayare is prominently a fishing village but plays a major role in T&T’s petroleum industry. The first commercially viable wells were drilled there.
The name however is still quite a tongue twister for us (seriously, try saying it 10 times fast), leading to it being referred to simply as Guaya. Ain’t no Trinbagonian got time for that!
So what do you think? Are there any other places you still don’t know how to pronounce correctly? Let us know in the comments!