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Vincy Talk The Dictionary of Vincentian Creole Compiled by the Caribbean Students Association Ratho Mill,

Vincy Talk The Dictionary of Vincentian Creole

Compiled by the

Caribbean Students Association

Ratho Mill, St Vincent & the Grenadines¸ April 2013.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements………………………

Introduction………………………………

Page 4

Page 5

The Basics Commonly used words…………………….…

Page

6

Vincentian Folklore Well-known adages…………

…………….…Page

14

Vincy Lingo Popular phrases………………………

……Page

20

References…………………

……….……

Page

24

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to:

Gamal FitzPatrick (Author), Amber Glasgow (Chief Editor) and Franké Joseph (Editor) for their contributions to this project.

Ken Dyer of Bellyful Comics for his art contributions. Visit the “Bellyful Comics” Facebook page for more comical caricatures.

Mary Thompson for aiding in the maintenance of a high standard of English spelling, grammar and literary style throughout this project.

The FitzPatrick, Friday and Joseph families for their contributions to the Vincentian Folklore section.

The FitzPatrick, Friday and Joseph families for their contributions to the Vincentian Folklore section. 4 |

Introduction

English, specifically, Caribbean Standard English (CSE) is the official language of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The average Vincentian, however, speaks a non-standard variety of English called Vincentian Creole. The place of Vincentian Creole in our society is linked to our colonial history. It emerged as a result of prolonged contact between West African languages spoken by intelligent but formally uneducated slaves, and the languages of the colonizers, namely English, Spanish, and French. Due to the fact that economics of colonialism required a pliable labour force, slaves did not receive language instruction. This created a linguistic melting pot, as it were, where slaves overheard, mispronounced, and necessarily modified various standard words of the original languages of their masters as well as of their fellow slaves, who were of times deliberately drawn from linguistically diverse areas of Africa. The foreignness of the colonizers’ languages coupled with linguistic diversity within the slave community itself gave gradual rise to a pidgin language of necessity, which evolved into Vincentian Creole.

Like other non-standard varieties, Vincentian Creole breaks many of CSE’s grammatical rules, but from the perspective of linguistic scholarship, it is just as structured, valid, and learnable as any other variety. That is, there is a plethora of syntactical, semantic, lexical, and idiomatic observations that can be made to aid your understanding of how ideas are expressed.

The Caribbean Students Association of the Trinity School of Medicine recognizes the struggle many international students face when they arrive in St. Vincent and Grenadines, particularly when it comes to communicating with patients at local clinics and hospitals. To ease this transition, we present Vincy Talk, The Dictionary of Vincentian Creole.

clinics and hospitals. To ease this transition, we present Vincy Talk, The Dictionary of Vincentian Creole.

The Basics

Words commonly used by the Vincentian public.

The Basics Words commonly used by the Vincentian public. After studying this section, you should be

After studying this section, you should be able to accomplish the following:

Identify common Vincentian Creole (patois) words and expressions

Integrate simple Creole terms into regular speech

Have a moderately-paced conversation with a speaker of Vincentian Creole.

Bare Dialect’

Annuda, (Ah-nuh-dah) adj. being one more or more of the same Eg. He wants anudda one. Origin: derived from the English word “another”, linked to words “an” and “other” which convey similar meanings

Annuh, (Ah-nuh) noun. an expression used to reinforce a previous statement, similar to the English language expression “you know”. Eg. I don’t like him annuh. Origin: derived from old southern Caribbean folklore.

Aryo, (Arhh-yo) noun. A pronoun used to refer to the individual(s) whom the speaker is addressing. Eg. I’m tired talking to aryo. Origin: derived from the English term “all of you”, usually used by individuals from the rural regions of the country. Variations include “allyo: and “all ah you”.

Arwe, (Arhh-wee)noun. A pronoun used by the speaker to refer to himself or herself and other individuals. Eg. It is better for all arwe. Origin: derived from the English language phrase “all of us” where the word “us” is substituted for “we”.

Babylon, (bah-bee-lan) noun. 1. An unjust establishment, state or church. Eg. This Babylon system ah try fight we down. 2. the police, a police officer. Eg. Babylon ah come! Origin: adopted as a slang term due comparisons made by Rastafarian culture on modern day issues and the ancient city of Babylon.

Bacchanal, (bah-ack-ah-nal) noun. 1: Scandal, confusion, loud quarreling that can be overheard. Eg. Did you hear ‘bout the bacchanal on Sunday? 2: The merrymaking and noisy confusion associated with all carnival events. Eg. I ready to bacchanal! Origin: This word was taken directly from popular Trinidadian lingo.

Badda, (Bah-dah) adj. 1. The comparative term of the English word “bad”, being in poor condition or having undesirable qualities. Eg. He’s just getting badda and badda. 2. being in relatively better or more desirable condition than another object or individual. Eg.Your car is good but his car badda. Origin: direct derivative of the English language “bad”, often used as a substitute for the term “worse”.

Bad-eye, noun. 1. A look of scorn or contempt Eg. Watch the bad eye she giving you. Origin: Possibly stemmed from the “evil eye” which in many cultures is said to cause injury or bad luck.

Bad-mind, adj. characterized by having the need to see others suffer or fail. Eg. Some people real bad-mind, can’t trust them foh nothing. Origin: derived from the notion that the person or people in question have evil thoughts in their mind toward other people.

Bad-ting, (bahd-teh-ing) noun. An overly promiscuous female individual Eg. That girl is a bad ting Origin: slang term, popularized by the tendency to scandalize the sexual actions of women.

Batty, (bah-tee) noun. Either or both round fleshy parts of the rear area of the human torso. Eg. Girl, move yo batty, it’s in the way! Origin: derived from the English language term “buttocks” which refers to the same body part.

Broughtupsy, (brot-up-see) noun. A high level of upbringing from a parent or guardian. Eg. Girl, you ain’t have any broughtupsy, yo mother go shame! Origin: derived as portmanteau from the term English “brought up”.

Chook, (chu-ook) 1: To prod, poke, or puncture an object. Eg. You better not chook someone' eye out with that! Origin: used as an onomatopoeic word dating back to slavery. “Jook” is a variant of the term with the same definition.

Commess, (Cuh-mehss) noun. Unconfirmed, casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people. Eg. The girls are always talking commess Origin: slang term, derivative of the term is uncertain.

Coo, (cu) noun. A condition in which part of an organ is displaced and protrudes through the wall of the abdomen, particularly groin area (likened to a hernia). Eg. Stop lift dem heavy tin before you get coo. Origin: Unknown.

Coolie, (Coo-lee) noun. A person of East Indian descent. Eg. Did you go collect the stuff from the Coolie boy down the road? Origin: Unknown Note This term is socially acceptable in SVG, however it is seen as a racial slur in many other countries. For interpretation purposes only; please do not use!

Crappo, (Krah-poh) noun. A toad, a tailless amphibian with a short squat body, rough bumpy skin and very long hind legs for leaping. Eg. Let’s go to river to stone some crappo. Origin: derived from the French word “crapaud” which is used to identify a type of South American or Central American frog.

Cunumunu, (coo-noo-moo- noo) noun. Idiot. A stupid or foolish person. Eg. You is a real cunumunu annuh. Origin: Unknown.

Cyar, (kay-yar) verb. To not be able to do an action. Eg. He know he cyar do that to me. Origin: derived from the English language term “can’t” which was birthed from the term “cannot”.

Dotish, (doh-tay-ish) adj. lacking intelligence Eg. She really dotish though. Origin: derived from the English word “doting” meaning extravagantly foolish.

Duppy, (Duh-pee) noun. Usually used to refer to spirits and other such apparitions. Eg. Last night I saw a duppy outside my bedroom window. Origin: derived from old West African folklore. “Jumbie” is synonym of this term.

Dutty, (duh-tee) adj. soiled with dirt, unclean. 2. undesirable or unpleasant in nature Eg. Girl, why you have de place so dutty?! Origin: derived from the English Language term “dirty” which has the same meaning.

Farse, (fahss) adj. The act of meddling in the affairs of another individual Eg. You need to stop being so farse and leave the people alone. Origin: Unknown.

Foh, prep. 1, in support of or in favour of (a person or policy) Eg. They voted foh independence in ah referendum.

2. affecting, with regard to (someone or something)

Eg. She is responsible foh the accident yesterday.

3. on behalf of or to the benefit of (someone or something)

Eg. These parents aren’t speaking up foh everyone.

4. having (the thing mentioned) as a purpose of function

Eg. She searching foh the necessary tools to make ah picture frame. Origin: derived from the English word “for” which has the same meaning.

Frass, adj. Intoxication due to the consumption of alcohol or other substances. Eg. We getting frass tonight! Origin: directly extracted from Jamaican Creole .

Fronted, (Frun-tid) adj. nosy, unduly curious about other people’s affairs. Eg. Stop being so fronted all the time! Origin: Unknown.

Gimme, (Gee-mee) verb. to request something from an individual Eg. She needs to gimme my stuff. Origin: derived from the English language phrase “give me” which has the same meaning.

Gwine, (Gah-ine) verb, the act of departure, progress or advancement Eg. Miss, yo gwine home? Origin: derived from the English language word “going”.

Haffi, (Ha-fee) verb, to be obligated to conduct an action.

Eg. I haffi go down the road for something. Origin: A Creole adaption of the English term “has to”.

Hotspell, (hot-spel) adj, rash or rude behaviour coupled with free spirited tendencies. Eg. Mrs. Browne daughter like she hotspell. Origin: Unknown

Jack Spania, (Jak-Span-eya) noun. A Caribbean species of wasp which is typically small and bright orange. Eg. Watch out foh that Jack Spania there. Origin: Unknown.

Lemme, (ley-mee) verb. To allow the speaker to perform an action. Eg. Lemme help you with that. Origin: derived from the English language phrase “let me” which has the same meaning.

Lehgo, (leg-goh) verb. To stop holding on to an object; allow to move Eg. Lehgo ma hand! Origin: derived as a Creole portmanteau of the English term “let go”.

Licks, (liks) noun. A sound beating. Eg. She got licks from her mother when she went home. Origin: Unknown.

Maco, (Mah-coh) verb. To spy on an individual with or without malicious intent. Eg. You ain’t have anything better to do than maco people?! Origin: Unknown.

Marga, (Mar-gah) noun 1.Very thin, frail, boney. Eg. That boy real marga; they need to feed him. Origin: Unknown.

Mamaguy, (mah-ma-gai) adj. 1.To fool someone with slick reasoning or smart talk. Eg. She mamaguyed him into buying some groceries for her. 2. To give support or encouragement on a false basis. Eg. Don’t try to mamaguy me on this issue. Origin: Unknown.

Nanci Story, (Nan-see story) noun.1. A folk tale in which the spider Brier Ananci is the main character and/or narrator. 2. A false claim intended to trick an individual. Origin: directly derived from West African children's stories and folk tales similar to Brier Rabbit stories in the United States.

Nyam, (Nah-yam) verb to take food into the mouth to be eaten. Eg. You ain’t tired nyam? 2. to consume or corrode gradually. Eg. The rat nyam up all my clothes. Origin: Unknown.

Obeah, (Oh-bee-ah) noun. The practice of black magic,specifically involving the manipulation of humans. Eg. I heard that he does work obeah on people. Origin: Unknown.

Pappy Show, (Pah-pee show) noun An instance in which someone is made to look foolish or ridiculous. Eg. You tek me for pappy show?! Origin: an adaption of the term “puppet show” which traditionally featured foolish characters for comical effect.

Pickney, (Pik-knee) noun. Human offspring (can be singular or plural) Eg. Me haffi go home to take care of me pickney. Origin: this term dates back to the early days of slavery where slaves introduced variants of native words within their version of English.

Pree, (pree) verb. To be overly curious and inquisitive about another person’s affairs. Eg. She always ah pree she neighbour’s house. Origin: directly derived from Jamaican Creole.

Renk, (reh-nk) adj. a foul or displeasing odour or taste Eg. This fish tastes a little renk eh. Origin: Unknown. Origin: Unknown

Stoosh, (Stu-oosh) adj. being prejudice to members of a perceived lower social status. Eg. Bare stoosh people at this party; we should leave. Origin: Unknown.

Tark, (Tah ark) verb. To converse or communicate using spoken words. Eg. I’m not afraid to tark my mind. Origin: derived from the English word “talk” which has a similar meaning.

Tiyad, (tie-yahd) adj. In need of sleep or rest; weary. Eg. Yo look tiyad, get some sleep nuh Origin: derived from the English word “tired” which has a similar meaning.

Too-too, (tu-tu) noun. Human or animal faeces Eg. Watch out! Dog too-too dey over there. Origin: Unknown

Whine, (Wah-ine) verb. To dance in a sexually provocative manner; predominantly comprising of movement of the hip or waist. Eg. That girl cyar whine at all boy. Origin: Unknown

Vincentian Folklore

Well known adages frequently quoted by Vincentians.

Folklore Well known adages frequently quoted by Vincentians. After studying this section, you should be able

After studying this section, you should be able to accomplish the following:

Identify and recite the given Vincentian folklore

Understand the morals of the given adages

Impress senior Vincentian citizens with your knowledge of folklore

‘Old People Say’

“Pickney who nah hear wey mami say, go drink hot wata witout suga”

- Loosely translated as: children who are disobedient will end up drinking hot water without sugar”. This saying conveys the message that children should listen to and obey their parents in order to avoid ending up in unfavourable situations.

“Pot ah tell kettle e batty black”

- Loosely translated as: the pot is telling the kettle that its bottom is dark/black. The moral of this adage is that one should not negatively judge the actions of another individual while one’s own actions are arguably of the same nature.

“Watch how me mek road foh gouti walk pon”

- Loosely translated as: Look at how I made a path for a gouti (opossum) to walk on. The phrase alludes to speakers’ mistakes in allowing disadvantageous circumstances to be introduced into their present situations.

“Everyday bucket ah go ah well, one day e bottom go drop out”

- loosely translated as: a bucket that goes to the well everyday will eventually lose its bottom piece. The lesson of this adage is that the repercussions of one’s actions (whether good or evil) eventually catches up with the person carrying out the actions.

“Tek time kill ants, you will see dey gut”

- Translated loosely as: take your time to kill the ants and you will soon see their guts. This saying posits that one should take time to get to the root of a situational problem before trying to solve it.

“When fox can’t get grapes, it say dem sour”

- Derived from the famous parable of “The Fox and The Grapes” written by Aesop ( a Greek writer accredited for many popular parables and folklore). The moral of this parable is that it is easy to despise the things which we cannot have.

“Goat mess does be on de hill waiting for a good piece of breeze to blow”

- Paraphrased as: goat faeces sits on the hill waiting for the breeze to blow”. This folklore goes a lot deeper than the subject of animal fecal matter; it points out that negative situations often lay in ambush, waiting for even the smallest of things to trigger them.

“How yo mek up yo bed, is so yo go lay down” This phrase means that our actions have consequences. It has similarities to the Hindu principle of karma in that negative actions will come back to you in the form of negative consequences.

“Hog ask e mudda why e mouth long so. She say, wait you ah come too”.

- Paraphrased as: the hog asked its mother why her snout is so long, and the mother replied, you will soon find out for yourself”. This folklore pays homage to the experience and wisdom associated with old age and shows that older individuals are more versed in most aspects of life than young individuals.

“Bend the tree while it young; it don’t bend so easy when it get old”

- This saying is usually used to refer to the practice of disciplining and training children to behave in an acceptable manner at a young age in order to avoid behavioural problems at an older age.

Old lady sway to eat Wee Wee Wee and Wee Wee Wee sway old lady belly”

- The term “Wee Wee Wee” commonly refers to a local plant which is also called “callaloo” by Jamaicans and “bargie” by Trinidadians. The moral of the saying is that planning to do something to someone leads to similar retaliation from that person.

“You can’t stop birds from flying over your head but you can stop them from making a nest in your hair”

- This adage implies that one cannot stop evil thoughts from entering one’s mind but one can stop oneself from dwelling on evil thoughts.

“If yo live in ah glass house dor pelt stone”

- Loosely translated as: if you live in a house made of glass, you shouldn’t throw stones”. This is an anti-hypocrisy adage which means that a person should not persecute another individual for something in which both persons (persecutor and persecuted) are involved.

“If you have cocoa in the sun, you must look for rain”

- This saying is used in many different contextual situations. The generalised moral of this adage is that one should always pay attention to the perils of one’s situation.

“Who dor hear, does feel”

- Paraphrased as: those who don’t hear, will feel instead. The phrase is meant to encourage the listener to heed some advice from the speaker before the listener has to suffer the dire consequences of ignoring the advice.

“Who the cap fit, let them wear it”

- Derived as a direct quotation from the song “Who The Cap Fit” made by popular Reggae artiste, Bob Marley. The lyric suggests that if a person is guilty of bad behaviour, he/she should accept the criticism pertaining to such acts.

“Yo could dress up ah hog, but when E see mud, E go roll in it”

- paraphrased as: you can dress a pig up, but when it sees mud it will roll in it. The meaning behind this expression is that you can try to mask your true nature, but it will always present itself when given the opportunity.

“Guava nah bear lime”

- translated to: guava trees do not bear lime fruit. This adage plays on the straightforward concept that one should not expect results/outcomes that deviate wildly from the nature of the initial situation.

“Show me yo company and I’ll tell you who you are”

- paraphrased as: show me who your friends are and I’ll be able to tell you who you are. The speaker is positing that the type of friends you have is a reliable indicator of your own character and personality traits.

“When bull get old, it shit E tail”

- paraphrased as: when a male cow gets old, it defecates on itself”. The adage acknowledges that human beings cannot fully control their actions as they become elderly.

“By the cut of the jib, you will know the type ah ship it is”

- this expression proposes that you can estimate the qualities of a person based on the nature of their intentions. The jib of a ship is a triangular staysail which harnesses the wind to propel the ship and change direction. This particular expression is commonly used by Vincentians who grew up in towns where fishing and sailing are/were popular.

“Yo would see yo mudda milk in a blue spoon”

- paraphrased as: you will only see your mother’s milk on very rare occasions. The speaker means to point out that the interlocutor, or the person to which this phrase is directed will encounter a period of hardship without source of nourishment.

“Don’t hang your hat where yo hand cyar reach”

- this saying is intended to warn the interlocutor to refrain from setting goals that are impossible to attain.

“You go dig your grave with yo teeth”

- The speaker is suggesting that the ‘interlocutor’s excessive appetite for food will ultimately lead to his/her demise. This saying is often used by grandparents and parents to discourage gluttony in the household.

Belly bring good and it bring bad”

- The use of the term “belly” in this phrase is synonymous with pregnancy. The purpose of this saying is to provide insight into the fact that while pregnancy is the gift of new life, it can also create problems dependent on/arising from a number of factors i.e. infidelity, underage pregnancy, etc.

“Way hut eye mek nose run

- This phrase is not meant to be literally translated. It is an analogy. Since on a human face the eye and the nose are in close proximity, this phrase intends to describe situations where proximity is a significant factor. It can be used, for example, to explain how two things may be linked and thus simultaneously affected due to a common connection between them.

“Monkey don’t know how big E backside be til it eat plum”

- The meaning of this saying is quite similar to the popular saying “you don’t know what you have till it’s gone”. While we are in possession of something or we have someone in our lives we may take them for granted. It is only when we lose this person or object that we come to realise the importance he/she/it had in our lives.

“Crapo say what’s joke for you is dead for me”

- Often used as a lesson in perspective. Some words, while meant as a joke, can be hurtful to people even though they were not seriously stated. Even the most innocent of jokes can have devastating consequences when told to the wrong people.

“What sweet ah a goat mouth ah sour for it backside”

- What this particular saying means is that something that is appealing now may be detrimental in the future. Just because you want something does not necessarily mean it is needed and that it would be in your best interests to attain it.

“It’s better being an old man’s darling than a young man’s slave”

- This phrase is meant to advise women in the context of romantic relationships. It conveys the message that older men have money while younger men are likely to make you work as hard as they do. This means that with an older man a woman will be able to enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle because of the older man is likely to already enjoy financial stability.

“The only thing golden about the Golden Years is the colour of your earrings”

- This stems from the common misperception of old age as a happy, carefree stage of life. The adage reminds us that even with the progression of age, the problems that life presents us with never completely vanish. The nature of our problems may change as we enter old age, but we will never be fully rid of challenges.

“Better fi have de Devil you know than e one you don’t”

- The meaning of this is that although hardships may present themselves in life, things could be worse. Just because another situation may seem easier and less rigorous than the one with which you are currently struggling, doesn’t mean it is. The unknown holds many mysteries and they may not all be as simple as they seem.

Vincy Lingo

Crude English translations of the most common Creole (patois) phrases used by Vincentians.

the most common Creole (patois) phrases used by Vincentians. After studying this section, you should be

After studying this section, you should be able to accomplish the following:

Understand basic Vincentian lingo in everyday conversation.

Have a moderately-paced conversation with a fluent speaker of Vincentian Creole

Effectively use Vincentian Creole phrases in conversation.

‘Word on the Street’

“Ah scruntin ah 5 dollars!” - May I trouble you for 5 dollars?

“Allyo war me tek in”- You all want me to take sick/pass out? (rhetorical question)

“Back ah yard” back home

“Bad feelingsa feeling of nausea or disorientation

“Bad talk” speak negatively about an individual

“Bang gut” an unattractively protruding abdomen indicative of lack of fitness.

“Behin' God back- A distant or remote part of the island

“Bless up” Good will and salutations(usually a closing remark in a conversation)

“Bruk up” broken up

“Buh wah de skin me ah see yah?” - I cannot believe what I'm seeing/hearing here.

“Bus' yuh tail” - to fall in an undignified manner

- to experience hard times or adversity. Also phrased as to catch yuh tail, or catch yuh nennen.

“Cheese and bread!” Oh my gosh!

“Cuttin’ style” showing off/being arrogant

“Dat does get me vex tho!” That sort of thing gets me angry, though.

“Dat nuff” – That’s enough

“Dat nuh business me” That is not my problem.

“Dat was ah nice flex” That was a nice outing

“Dor ramp wid me” Do not harass me.

“Don’t study dem bouje people dey” Do not pay attention to those pretentious people.

“Down here so” Right here/there

“Geez you” Oh, gosh

“Him bright annuh” – He’s smart, you know.

“Hold ah fresh” To take a bath

“I dor kno the guy/lady from Adam” I have no recollection of ever knowing this guy/lady.

“I does cough up cold every now and again” I occassionally cough up mucus

“Knock down” hit by a vehicle

“Ley we…” – Let us…

“Like you war bad wuk me” It seems like you want to overwork me.

“Little jackass ha big ears” - Be careful where and when you speak

“Look sharp”- hurry up

“Mash up” destroyed/ broken

“Matter fix” - Everything is now organized.

“Ma blood kinda low” I am anaemic

“Me belly/foot/back ah hut me” My stomach/foot/back is hurting me.

“Me dey pon ah medz/herbs ends” – I’m currently under the influence of marijuana.

“Me dey ya” I am right here

“Me get sugar, DocDoctor, I have Diabetes.

“Me name stink ah road” I have a bad reputation. (adopted from Jamaican slang)

“Me pressure kinda highI have high blood pressure.

“Mudda wuk!” - Oh my goodness, gracious me.

“Nah badda meh” - Don’t bother me!

“Oh geed!” - That’s nasty!

“Pencil foot pants” pants which are excessively tight around the calf area.

“Pop down” in a bad state

“Rahtid!!!” Oh wow!!

“Seen” I understand

“Shout me later nah” Contact me at a later time

“She breed” She is pregnant.

“Shell down” to conquer/demolish/do exceptional well at a given task

“Since me born”/”Since 1802”/”Since Soufriere erupt” since a very long time ago.

“Sit pon de throne” using the toilet

Stick break in yuh ears” - Refusal to listen to advice.

“Suck salt” Tough luck

“Take it with a grain of salt” Do not hastily believe it.

“Wah ah gwarn?” – What’s going on?

“Walk goodtake care

“Walking wit' yuh two long hand” going/coming empty handed

“Way E be?” What is it?

“Way de scene boss?” – What’s happening, sir?

“Way you really dey pon” – What’s really going on with you? (rhetorical question)

“Way par you gwine?” - Where are you going?

“Way yo say?” What are you saying?

“Yo got too much ting pan the fire” - You are doing too many things at once

“Yo ovas” You understand (most commonly used as an expression)

“You musse tink me born yesterday” You probably think that I was born yesterday (the speaker is being condescending).

“You start smell your ellum!” – You think you’re an adult now!

References

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Costello, R., Baboukis, C., Posner, D., & Dowling, J. (1996). Random House Webster's College Dictionary. New York: Random House Inc.

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