Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Just what do you mean by Bajan?

About a month ago, I received an anonymous comment on this post, asking me: "Isn't it Bajan, rather than Bermudian?" At first, I wasn't sure what they meant and I hesitated to publish the comment, lest 'Bajan' was a derogatory word of some sort, especially since it came from an anonymous commenter. Where I come from, Bajan or a variation of it, is the Indian (Hindi) word for a song of worship, a hymn if you will. So, you really never know, do you? Different words mean so many things in different languages. Like 'Puta' is a term of endearment for one's child in yet another Indian language (Konkani) and also means son in the Sri Lankan language, Sinhalese, but at the other end of the spectrum, 'Puta' is the vulgar word for a prostitute in Spanish (and we all know what that is). Go figure!

So, I looked up the term Bajan, because there was no way I was going to have any derogatory comments on this site. Turns out it isn't a derogatory term at all, but it actually means Barbadian Creole (an English based Creole language). And perhaps this is where the confusion lies. Bermuda is not part of the Caribbean, nor anywhere near it. It it were, then yes the term Bajan would most definitely apply in this case. Bermuda also does not like to be told that it's part of the Caribbean and will proudly point out that it's part of North America, and is an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean off of the American East Coast. And Bermuda is not part of America either. It is not the 51st state (wait I thought that was reserved for Canada) and it is not an American territory either. It is clearly a British overseas territory, with the Queen as the Head of State and it's own independent Parliament to match. In fact, Bermudians take pride that they're not part of the Caribbean and will so vehemently remind you of this fact. I get the feeling they like to be known as the lone ranger in the vast deep blue sea, in that context.

So, don't you dare get it wrong again. Pull out a map! Because is that really so hard? You may not find Bermuda because it is so tiny, it barely makes a blimp on the map. Regardless, it's no excuse, you hear. Totally unacceptable! It's like someone saying to an Indian: Hey, aren't you from Pakistan? (such a running joke for me growing up) Or someone mistaking a Canadian for an American (such a running joke for me now).

Joke! Joke! Joke! Come now, you know I love you, my American peeps.


Anonymous said...

There is a similar word for Bermudians but it has fallen out of use: 'Mujan'.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Bajan is what you would call someone (or something) from Barbados. This is informal, with the formal being Barbadian.

So I think the person who sent you that likely confused Barbados with Bermuda (and obviously isn't from the Caribbean)...