Belize is a happy country and its normal to greet each other with a “Hello”,” Good morning “, a “Hi how are you” or a “What’s happening”. We are the only country in Central America where English is the official language. But depending on where you are in the country and who you are talking to, you will discover quite a diversity of language in the manner of greeting strongly related to the melting pot of cultures that are our people.
“Gud Maanin” or “Weh di go aan?” are two familiar Kriol greetings, sung here in a Belizean favorite by the late and well-respected King of Brukdown, Mr Wilfred Peters.
Whilst English is the official language, Kriol is spoken by most Belizeans, particularly at home or in informal situations. Often thought of as a dialect, it is in fact a language with its own set of rules and grammar.
In areas where the Mestizo culture is strong particularly in northern Belize and the Cayo district, the favored language is Spanish and familiar greetings are “Buenas Dias”,”Hola” and “Que Pasa?” Northern Belize still has several Maya villages, where Yucatec Maya is still spoken, though sadly the language is dying out. “How are you” is “Bix yanikech”, Good morning is “Ma’lob Ja’atskab K’iin”
Two other Maya languages are spoken in Belize, predominately in villages in the Toledo district where the Maya culture is strongest. The village of San Antonio is mostly populated with Mopan Maya and a traditional greeting which means both Hello and Goodbye would be “D’yoos”. San Pedro Columbia is the largest Q’eqchi Maya community and they also have their own language. A typical greeting would be ” Ma sa’aach’ol” (how are you?) When speaking to an older woman the greeting would be “Naxin” and for an older man “Waxin”. The younger generation greet each other with the more informal “Chan xawil”.
Stann Creek is the cultural heart of the Garinagu or Garifuna. “Buiti Binafi” is the greeting here. This language which is part of the Arawak group of languages is rich in stories of the Garifuna culture.
In the Mennonites communities of Belize such as Spanish Lookout, Blue Creek and Barton Creek, the language spoken is low German. Good morning is “Goomorjess” or the informal “Morjess” Like many other Belizeans they also speak Spanish, English and Kriol.
Whilst the languages mentioned above make up the main cultural groups in Belize, today there are many other peoples, who have visited, fallen in love with and settled in the country. It’s not un-usual to hear Lebanese, Chinese and even French. Belize really is just one big melting pot.