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Letter: The 'P' Hole Chronicles

Monday, 16 September 2013 12:00 Written by  font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size

Dear Sir:

The late Caribbean Hark (aka Lord Hark) said, “It does really hurt me as man,” but this letter is not about Paul’s Lot. It is about the use of the “P” word by the Prime Minister (PM) of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). For the last several years, it has really hurt me as man, every time I hear the audio piece on the “P” hole. It even hurt me more when Vincentians tries to defend this type of nonsense from the PM.

Let’s get to the meat of the matter, the “P” word in colloquial terms in SVG is a vulgar term. The majority of people (about 90% or more) in SVG knew the “P” word only as a vulgar or derogative word. Among school age kids, the starting percentage may be as high as 99%.

Somehow the PM is telling us that the “P” word means small. Yes, you did use it correctly. But how about the local understanding of the word? Why would you use it in a public forum, when responding to a citizen being critical of you or your government?

As the late Skerrit used to say, “Fools ah talk but na fools as listen!”

One must know and understand their audience. For example, in America if I say someone is “batty” among a non-West Indian American audience, they rightly assume I am saying that the person is crazy or insane.

In SVG and other Caribbean countries it has a far different connotation. If I say someone is “batty” in SVG, the majority of people would assume I am saying that person is a donkey’s rump, to put it nicely. Or as the late Reginald “Professor” Padmore laid it skillfully in his masterful rendition of his calypso “Body Confusion”, “the hole in the back”. Even taking it further, some people may think you are saying the person is gay.

Like the PM, religious ministers (priests and pastors) in SVG can find creative ways in which they can used the “P” word correctly in a sermon, to replace small. But they would not because of the local understanding of the word.

Similarly, English or math teachers in SVG can appropriately use the “P” word to describe something small or to show difference between two things. However, they don’t due to the local vulgar stigma of the term.

It is fully well time that we as Vincentians stop accepting this type of nonsense as being educated or as they like to say learned. Was this a veiled attempt to embarrass a citizen under the guile of being learned? This is coming from someone who claims to choose his words carefully. When are we as Vincentians going to raise the bar and demand more from people who should know better? As the late John F. Kennedy said, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

Growing up in SVG, I have seen people being arrested for using the “P” word in front of the police. I have seen parents spank their children for using the “P” word. While, many in SVG can remember as kids being send to wash their mouth out with soap for using the “P” word. Such is the use of the “P” word in SVG as stated in the “P” Hole Chronicles!

Peace and justice and get real.

Lenford O’Garro

PS: Instead of the “P” word, why not Lilliputian, diminutive, insignificant, negligible, tiny, teeny-weeny, minute, minor, trivial, scanty or a whole host of other words to describe something small?
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