|TRINIDAD & TOBAGO WON THE CARIBBEAN T-20|
T-20 cricket at the Beausejour Cricket Ground (BCG) ended last weekend; but not
before St. Lucia’s “signature national expression” (E-SALOP) travelled several
times around the globe at the speed of light. And there’s no doubt that the
expression (and I almost said like our Nobel Laureates) is putting St. Lucia’s
name on the map.
if we may not have invented it, we certainly have patented it as our signature
|GAYLE INVOKED A CHORUS OF E-SALOP WITH HIS 6'S|
etymology of the expression is as nebulous as are so many other “things Kweyol”.
(1) Is it an African expression? (2) Is it a French expression? (3) Is it a
French-Caribbean expression? (4) Or is it simply a “kweyolised” or “bastardised”
“loanword”? (5) Was it our idiosyncratic way of cussing Massa during the days
of slavery for his atrocities against us?
|KENNEDY BOOTS SAMUELS|
the case of (5), historians might claim that the expression has a measure of
symbolic-historical significance/legitimacy and they might want to justify and
even immortalize it for that purpose.
another angle, we may ask: Is the expression simply a fervent flirtation, a “toy
in blood”, so to speak and is it therefore worthy of becoming part of our “national
pride” and “national identity’?
|HON DEREK WALCOTT|
would be more than enlightening to hear the views of our major Kwéyol stakeholders/language
experts like Hon Derek Alton Walcott (a lover and exponent of the Kwéyol
language in his poetry), the Folk Research Centre (FRC) and the Cultural
Development Foundation (CDF). It would also be interesting to hear the inputs
of Kwéyol experts like Senator Dr Kentry Jn Pierre (who holds a PhD in the study
of Kwéyol and who is also the parliamentary secretary with responsibility for “Heritage
and the Creative Arts”) as well as other orthographers in St. Lucia and the Kwéyol
diaspora in that regard.
|SENATOR DR KENTRY JN PIERRE|
the meantime, a few questions may be in order: Is there a need to draw a line
in its “usage” and if so, where do we do so? Is it a legacy worth “patenting”?
Will we be comfortable with our kids or other members of the family brandishing
it around? Will teachers and parents be comfortable with kids hurling it around
in the class, home and sporting events at the school? Is the loud deafening “E-SALOP”
chorus more vociferous than numerous?
clearly remember my challenges in that regard when I headed an inner city
secondary school. You can imagine my embarrassment when the expression went
viral at inter-school sporting events and that our “schoolchildren” were looking
for every opportunity to brandish it about. It was fun to them but not to me! It
took a swift intervention of “faculty psychology” to bring about a temporary reprieve.
Notwithstanding, it was obvious that the expression was a cultural phenomenon seemingly
embedded in our cultural psyche and therefore difficult to root out.
E-SALOP may be a cultural idiosyncrasy but to my mind it also mirrors a broader
cultural issue. The fact that it is gaining increasing currency, acceptability
and momentum among us - perhaps more so than anywhere else in the Kweyol
diaspora – may be an issue worthy of cultural research. The Martiniquais use
the expression widely and one “hypothesis” is it might have its origin in Haiti
and crossed over from Martinique into St. Lucia!
|COCKFIGHTING INDUCED THE "E-SALOP"|
it appeared to have been restricted to the “un-nuanced” and the “un-schooled” and
“the inebriated” rural “plantation” folk who blurted it out either
spontaneously or recklessly especially during emotional outbursts or as
anathema against an opponent. It was especially popular during fights with each
punch thrown being greeted by an explosive chorus of E-SALOP! It was also very popular
in the cinema and during cock fights. Now, it appears to have been “universalized”
and today, it has reached a national crescendo giving it full poetic legitimacy
in public places.
notion that it was popular among rural folk may suggest that it was linked to
the plantation and that gives credence to the earlier un-scientific hypothesis
that it might have been an expression used by slaves against their masters.
|DANCEHALL BOSS- NINJA MAN|
similar hypothesis might also apply to the Jamaican “CLAT” expression. (CLAT in
Jamaica means cloth). They – like us – have their parallel “Patois”
expressions, with four variants of “CLAT”
(namely, BAMBO, BLOOD, PUSSY AND RASS).
They use it widely and especially in the dancehall environment and underground culture.
Peter Tosh used it unreservedly in song; it was also a favorite of undisputed dancehall’s
virtuoso “Ninja Man” (now in prison for charges of murder). It is also used in a
few cases of dub poetry; but I have never heard Jamaicans using it in a massive
chorus at a public event like a cricket match! With Jamaica’s new daggering
laws, the public use has become even more heavily circumscribed.
viewers of the T20 leg in St. Lucia might have wondered “what the hell was
going on” when the expression was blasted out every time there was excitement
on the cricket field. It was used so frequently and indiscriminately that it
couldn’t escape attention.
“E-SALOP” expression is an adaptation of “HE-GAS” or “E-GAS” which has been around
from “creation”. We might even want to consider the latter (which has become
almost “obsolescent”) to be a euphemism of the former.
E-SALOP, HE-GAS was also very popular in cinemas and during fights and cock
fights. It was especially thought to be popular among what we perceived to be “Jerrous”
and “Meros” of our society. But that was in an earlier cultural frame of
reference. Today, it would seem that the “E-SALOP” expression has achieved full
legitimacy across all sections of society.
have no issue if it used in private conversations; but I have every issue when
it reaches “paranoid proportions” and bellowed out with bliss and recklessness
at public events.
if it is evident that Caribbean is demonstrating an increasing propensity for
overt obscenities as captured in some of our art forms (calypsos and soca, for
example), we should learn “when” and “where” to draw the line! We can’t condemn
Exodus for “Blackberry Whine”, “Poppot’ and “Callie” for “daggering” and take
pleasure in hurling “E-SALOP” at events with moral impunity!
can do better!
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