November 30, 2020

New dictionary for Cayman, bobo

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Kevin Goring

Tell me sump’m bobo: If somebody was ta tell you det Cayman nah gah no culture, would you agree, or would you stall um out wit all kine ah facts n’ figurations? Some ah dem people say we nah gah no culture, uwah people doon’ know way we goin’, n’ uwah children doon’ know way we come from. Well hear wah: dass about ta change!

After more than a decade in development, one of the most important documents in the history of the Cayman Islands will receive its official push into the local market this December.

The Cayman Islands Dictionary, a collection of words used by native Caymanians, has been entirely self-published by Caymanian Kevin M. Goring, who began compiling words in the late 1990’s while away at college, thinking of home.

When asked about the project and what led him to pursue such an endeavor, Kevin said, “It just came natural to me. I’ve always loved working with words, playing with slang, inventing new phrases, and studying the differences between words that are used in various districts throughout Cayman. (eg. Ereckleh, Tereckleh, Areckleh, Dereckleh). It’s really interesting to see how simple changes in accent or emphasis can give a word a completely different meaning, even if the word is standard English! Although the process of collecting, writing, defining and refining words for the dictionary was extremely tedious, I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it!”

Since college, Kevin’s passion for learning more about Cayman’s linguistic heritage has led him to compile more than 1,000 words and phrases that will be included a line of products he calls ‘The Caymanology Collection ‘. Built on a philosophy that all things Caymanian should be studied and preserved, The Caymanology Collection© is a cultural movement towards educating, entertaining, inspiring and empowering Caymanians. Kevin hopes that all Caymanians will become more self-aware of their culture as many ‘old time’ traditions such as boatbuilding, thatch weaving, quadrille and basket making will be lost forever if they have not studied and passed on to the next generation. “If that were to happen, we would all deserve ah ‘sapappah’ wit ah tamarind switch. That’s why we need to start with a dictionary so that we can preserve our means of communicating unique ideas. Our language will be lost if we don’t make the effort to record it.” Kevin said.

In the spirit of Caymanology, The Cayman Islands Dictionary is the first publication ever to feature a massive collection of words used by native Caymanians. While some readers will discover new aspects of the Caymanian culture, others will learn to spell and pronounce everyday words such as ‘bobo’, ‘tee-dee’, ‘ereckleh’, ‘cassawa’, ‘spile’, ‘wex’, ‘flitters’, ‘‘duppy cap’, ‘chimmy’, ‘teets’ and ‘cow itch’.

The Cayman Islands Dictionary - First Edition

On a personal level, Kevin considers himself to be a patriotic, pro-Caymanian man, and admits that compiling a dictionary is a huge responsibility. “It’s not about me; it’s about developing a cultural movement aimed at preserving our unique dialect by showcasing it in such a way that everyone will take pride in how we speak, who we are as a Caymanian people, where we came from and where we are going in the future – together.” Kevin said.  “This first publication serves to educate all who claim that Cayman has no culture of its own, and to promote awareness amongst our children. Many of them are being led to adopt other cultures or adapt to external influences and it’s up to us to instill core Caymanian values in them. It is my hope that Caymanology will provide some evidence that we can embrace our own customs and traditions by staying true to who we are while educating others, particularly our children and visitors to the island, on our way of life.” he added.

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