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The people

St Helena has a small population, mainly descended from Europe (consisting of planters, government employees and ex-soldiers serving in the local St Helena Regiment), Chinese (itinerant workers from about 1810) and slaves (mostly from Madagascar and Asia, with only a few coming from Africa from 1840 onward).

At the end of June 2018 the number of St Helenians on St Helena was estimated to be 4,300.

 

 

One of St Helena’s greatest attractions is its unique culture.  The friendliness of the people; the feeling that one has stepped back in time to an era where greeting passers-by and chatting on the side of the road is a way of life.

St Helena has a great sense of community and pride in traditions and customs. Saint-ness is experienced with all of the senses, be it the taste of delicious local fishcakes, the aroma of premium St Helena coffee and the vibrant colours of a local parade.

THE LANGUAGE

Travel to anywhere in the world and one of the first considerations will be the language.  Whilst, as a UK overseas territory, the first language spoken on St Helena is English, St Helenians have a distinct dialect and have developed a unique way of speaking, shortening words, creating new words and speaking a lot faster.

These are a few examples of the more common Saint expressions and pronunciations:

 

Saint Pronunciations/Dialect Translated “Proper” English:

Chips

Cooldrink

Couple  (Several; can be more than 2)

How you

‘Eierce’ (pronounced like pierce)

Bite

See you

‘Mussie’

Who you is?

Breead

Heead

Beead

Bita  (“I get my bita dinner first“)

Chirren

Don’t (“he don’t hear too good”)

Gorn (“He gorn home now”)

How you? (reply: “not too bad luvie”)

Ing (“I took ing home”)

Crisps

Canned fizzy drink/soda

Couple (means 2 in English)

How are you

Yes

Spicy ‘hot’ flavour

Bye/see you later

It must be

Who are you?

Bread

Head

Bed

A bit of

Children

Doesn’t

Gone

How are you?

Him

Jorb

Kitch

Kittle

La (luh)   (“rain cumin now la”)

Most – (“most time to get my lunch”)

Nuttin

Not yit a while

Next – (“next side or next way”)

One – (“one man call for you”)

Porket

Ting

Dat

Tank you

Us is

Wush

Windoo

Nuff

Job

Catch

Kettle

Look

Almost

Nothing

Not for a while yet

Other

A

Pocket

Thing

That

Thank you

We are

Wash

Window

Enough/Plenty

EXCLAMATIONS

Oh la!                                                       Oh look (Indignant exclamation)

Oww!                                                        Amazement (‘oww nuff rain!’ or ‘oww how dat?’)

Phew ya                                                    Exasperation (i.e. ‘phew ya, it some hot!’)

Gorn now                                                  Oh go on now