In 1674 the French succeeded in exterminating the remaining Caribs, settled and colonised the island 1674 until they lost control in 1763 to the British under the Treaty of Paris. During their rule,100 sugar mills were produced with 12,000 enslaved Africans working the industry.
Their reign had a significant impact on the island’s history in the names of over 50% of the villages. The continuation of the French language however didn’t last. Our ancestors didn’t teach the younger generations instead used Patios (broken French) as a means of communicating so that the children wouldn’t understand.
The names of villages are believed to have been derived from experiences, events and/or unique traits of the land by the colonists. Here are a few names of villages and their meaning as translated from Patois.
Morne Jaloux – jealous mountain
The village where I’m from, and has the best view of the capital St. George’s. The neighbouring Richmond Hill village is a popular tourist attraction and has 2 Forts: Fort Frederick and Fort Matthew which were used as defence bases.
Carénage – fairing
Location of the first settlement and was given that name because the horseshoe bay was ideal for careening ships.
Sauteurs – jumpers
The town was named after the events leading to the Caribs resistance to French colonisation resulting in them allegedly jumping to their death off a precipice, which was named Le Morne de Sauteurs or Leapers Hill.
Pointe des Salines (Point Salines) – salt point
Was given that name as a result of a large number of salt ponds present, which provided salt for preserving food and daily nutrition.
Gouyave – guava
The fishing capital of Grenada and known for Fisherman’s Birthday celebrations held annually on June 29th.
Beau Séjour (Beausejour) – nice stay
The second settlement established by the French under the rule of Governor du Parquet. It consisted of about 21 men and was just 31/2 miles north of the first settlement.
Après Tout – after all
Non Pariel – without equal
Champ Fleur – flower field
Belle Vue – nice view
Bonaire – good air
L’Esperance – hope
Sans Souci – without trouble
Pomme Rose – pink apple
Castaigne – chestnut
Mon Plasir – my pleasure
Perdmontemps – waste of time
Tempè – temple
La Sagesse – wisdom
La Fillette – the little girl
Cultural influences include:
Folklore. There are three main characters in Grenadian folklore.
Lou-garou – derived from the French Loup-Garou, a werewolf, is in Grenada a person who can leave his own skin and sucks the blood of his victims in the night.
La-ja-bles, derived from the French La Diablesse, a female devil, who appears as a beautiful and seductive woman, but wears a long dress to hide the fact that one of her feet is normal while the other is a cloven hoof. She also wears a large brim hat to hide the fact that she has the face of an elderly dead woman with glowing eyes.
Anancy. A spider trickster who often deceives and exploits his fellow creatures
for his own benefit.
Dialect. A lot of the everyday words we use are derivations of French/Creole words.
Plan-arse, derived from the French Plan asséner (ass-a-nay),to strike with the flat of, usually a piece of wood, spoon etc.
Ba-zo-dee derived from the French Creole, pas solide, meaning unstable or “crazy”. For e.g the concept behind Alison Hinds’ song Iron Bazodee.
Dre-vay is Patois for “knocking about” and refers to what we are likely to do in the afternoon after school and before getting home from work.
J’ouvert, derived from the French Creole words Jour ouvert, meaning open day or the dawning. It is the first event of the first day of Carnival which commences around midnight.
Jab Jab derived from the French Creole word Diable meaning devil, is a Mas or “display” where revellers are dressed scantilly-clad covered with black body paint or oil. The are often accessorised with chains, horns, shackles etc.