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BC’S B’DOS: Ambulance me!


B.C. Pires

BC’S B’DOS: Ambulance me!

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Barbados may be the most foul-mouthed place in the world.
In my experience, only the Irish and men of some Middle Eastern countries come close to cussing nearly as much – and they’re a distant second, from my own casual observation.
Walk down any street in Barbados – or into any secondary school playground, or even some primary school ones – and your ears will burn with the language falling easily from the lips of men, women and children.
My own 11-year-old son tells me that if you don’t cuss in form one, you’re considered weird. And the schoolchildren of Barbados use all the “dirty” words available to grown-ups, including the one pop star Rihanna proudly sports around her neck in church. (Last September, Rihanna notoriously entered the chapel at the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro wearing a necklace bearing a four-letter word pertaining to women . . . .)
Make the necessary adjustments for population size and land mass, and Barbados may well lead the world in profanity, just like it’s in the top five for obesity and churches per square hectare.
Even for someone from Trinidad, where the hip-hop culture has all but stripped young men of any vocabulary other than swear words, it took some getting used to, the Bajan penchant for filthy language.
I had to learn to talk myself out of approaching strangers and asking them to curb their linguistic enthusiasm; I might have been beaten, and cussed out roundly in the bargain.
But Bajan cussing is nothing compared to the Bajan hypocrisy about it; if you believe the PR, Bajans aren’t even swearing, they’re praying.
When Rihanna explained her necklace by saying she came from Barbados where people casually use the most offensive English swear word, Bajans were upset; how could Ri-Ri make us look so bad in the eyes of the world?
Few bothered to consider how we sound to our own island ears. It’s a bewildering national self-delusion; and I myself have now been ambulanced by said hypocrisy.
Last Monday, my oppposite pagemate the old Wild Coot used, in his own column, a euphemism I myself used to use, until last week, as a substitute for a swear word in the papers. It’s a legitimate standard English word referring to an emergency vehicle larger than a car that you might call if your house was burning – but my usage of it has apparently been annoying the ambulance out of some NATION readers (the Bajan intelligentsia) who have, apparently, figured out that, when I used the word referring to the emergency vehicle relating to conflagrations, I actually meant to convey another ambulancing word altogether.
As a result, that word I used to use has been ambulanced right out of this ambulancing column never to ambulancing appear again; but not to worry, I’ve pressed another vehicle into emergency use. I don’t expect, in the future, to get entirely carried away; but I just might be ambulanced.

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