Add to that a growing island vocabulary and usage. Now, I'm not talking about accents, although it did take me a while to figure out that the guy I thought was nicknamed Bunny was actually Bernie. Ear mishaps aside, here are some of my new words and new uses for familiar ones:
REACH: To get there or arrive. If there's no flour in the store, it's because the boat didn't reach.
CARRY: Give a ride. I offered to carry Margaret from the store.
CRAWFISH: Rock lobster.
DILLY: Sapodilla, a local fruit.
FULL: Ripe or ready. I can pick my sapodillas when they're full.
MUDDY: Cloudy or sandy. When the wind is high, the sea is muddy.
BRIGHT: Light-skinned, though still "black."
JOKEY: Whimsical. My window treatments that use beach finds are jokey.
CURRY: Not a spice but quarry rock.
Lots of these words have entered my own lexicon, as well as phrases that I consider islandisms. For example, during a discussion (usually political), someone will exclaim, "Thank you!" when another makes his point for him. Or, if someone makes a statement deemed preposterous or outrageous, a sharp "What?" is in order. (I suppose its Internet equivalent is the crasser WTF.) And "just like that" is no simile but a state of simplicity and compliance. "When I move, you move. Just like that."
There's one phrase, too, that is unique to North Caicos. Everyone there knows what to do when told to "drive like Johnnie Missick." The man is well-known island-wide for always moving at 17 mph, no more, no less, and everyone recognizes his green Chevy truck moseying down the road. He has said that when he dies he wants his coffin to be driven all over the island. We know at what speed.
I have to be careful about using my island vocabulary when I write, providing either context or explanations for non-island readers. But then, that's true for other regional differences, too. Would y'all get it if I said I lost the gum band on my program from the Stillers when I was redding up the house?