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history of "frenchies"

 
trw
 trw
(@trw)
Expert

who and what are the "frenchies" on STT, i heard yesterday that they are white locals and can be quite obstinate, i'm assuming they were here before the Danes and the plantation system, i don't think we have any on STX

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Topic starter Posted : December 3, 2007 4:49 pm
dntw8up
(@dntw8up)
Trusted Member

Frenchies trace their genealogy to French speaking Caribbean islands, like St. Barts. Many are white, just as many on St. Barts are white. Generalizing character traits like "obstinate" to a group of people like Frenchies makes about as much sense as claiming people who use the screen name trw tend to be quite dim.

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Posted : December 3, 2007 4:57 pm
trw
 trw
(@trw)
Expert

thats why i was asking, someone told me that, i did not just make it up the direct words were from a guy who said"i rent from a frenchie and you do not mess with them" cheese and bread get off your soap box.

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Topic starter Posted : December 3, 2007 5:36 pm
Onika
(@Onika)
Trusted Member

FYI--I have been advised by more than one local of French descent that the term "Frenchie" is offensive to the people it is meant to refer.

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Posted : December 3, 2007 6:01 pm
lip
 lip
(@lip)
Advanced Member

Frenchies are generally people of french decent who had colonized many Caribbean islands... st thomas has a fairly large number of "frechies" (hence "french town" on the waterfront in charlotte amalie which was and still is a fishing community)... they are primarily farmers and fishermen. there is also a large concentration of "frenchies" on the north side whos families have owned large parcels of land for centuries. they are a very tight knit community w/ their own brand of justice from time to time and " dont mess w/ the frenchies" would be sound advise... dont touch a frenchies fish trap, boats, farms... deal w/ them fairly in business and you wont have any problems... they are not thugs by any means, just locals who want and expect mutual respect.

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Posted : December 3, 2007 6:14 pm
Islander
(@the-islander)
Member Moderator

They are of French descent or French, who's roots are to the island of St. Barthelemy (French island, also called St. Barths and St. Barts). From the early-1800s through to 1960/70s, roughly, is when the migration of people from St. Barths to St. Thomas was happening. They have over time established themselves and are part of the local population. They were primarily farmers and fishermen in the early days. Today many are still fishers and some still farm, in addition to doing many other jobs. They maintain and celebrate their French heritage through organizations, celebrations, fishing tournaments etc.

--Islander

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Posted : December 4, 2007 3:20 am
sherri
(@sherri)
Advanced Member

Onika,
In 24 yrs of living here, I've never known a Frenchie, to be offended for being called so! They are simple people, I find, and tend to live off the land/water as best as possible. They love to talk about local politics as much as any other local. They are a proud people and oh btw, I have never heard them actually speaking FRENCH! My honey says he's heard the older ones speak French. My honey has always wanted to live like a Frenchie, catch some fish, plant some veggies and have a meager existence! What else do you need!

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Posted : December 4, 2007 11:40 am
Onika
(@Onika)
Trusted Member

I'm just passing on what I was told Sherri.

My understanding was that it was derogatory, however, I certainly defer to those who have more authority on the subject.

I also remember an article in the News about it. I will see what I can find.

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Posted : December 4, 2007 1:12 pm
Onika
(@Onika)
Trusted Member

Found it.

http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/index.pl/article_archive?id=17610821

I could be wrong (since she doesn't actually use the word) but my impression reading this was that she was referring to "Frenchie".

I didn't do research on her but I know that I have read numerous editorial opinions from her concerning persons of French Descent on STT.

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Posted : December 4, 2007 1:23 pm
Lizard
(@Lizard)
Trusted Member

Onika,
She was referring to the word "Frog"! Call Her she's in the book, she will tell you!

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Posted : December 4, 2007 1:36 pm
Onika
(@Onika)
Trusted Member

I'm not going to call her up, I'll take your word for it. 🙂

Based on the fact that I have never heard anyone say "Frog" (wow, how ancient is that!) and in conjunction with my two previous conversations, I assumed it was "Frenchie" so that is certainly my error.

I know that at least one of the people who told me this is of French descent and frequents this board, perhaps they might feel inclined to shed some light on the subject.

Whether all, some or one (or two in my case) find it offensive, my family has endeavoured not to use the word since that first conversation on the subject and I know I found the discussion quite illuminating.

But, as I said, I defer to those with knowledge on the subject b/c clearly I am out of the loop!

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Posted : December 4, 2007 2:24 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

I have never heard of Frenchy being derogative, but I do believe that "Cha-cha" is. But as the case in Sudan shows, it all depends who is judging the connotation of a word.

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Posted : December 4, 2007 8:19 pm
Ronnie
(@ronnie)
Trusted Member

Yes, cha cha is the name she was referring to.

RL

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Posted : December 4, 2007 8:33 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

To add to sherri's observation: I have asked about speaking French, and many have said that their parents did not want them "marked" as French, so would force them to speak English.

I also have heard stories about the customs and immigration personnel who processed the newly arriving St Barts folk- they would ask the name, and although the person said "Bryan" it was written as "Brin", which is why there are both today. I have also heard about poor spelling with the Jean-Baptistes- they have either no vowel now, (Jn-Baptiste) or out of place vowel (Jno-Baptiste.) Guess they needed spell check.

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Posted : December 4, 2007 9:06 pm
Juanita
(@Juanita)
Expert

EE,
I have always wondered what was up with Jn. Thanks for the history lesson.

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Posted : December 4, 2007 11:38 pm
sherri
(@sherri)
Advanced Member

I too, have found the above mentioned interesting!
I had never heard the other terms used, ever! Good 'ting, huh? 🙂

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Posted : December 5, 2007 1:52 pm
Onika
(@Onika)
Trusted Member

This is very interesting and for those who want to learn more, if you do a search of the archives at the News site you will find more articles by Danet that actually go though the histories of the names.

As for "Cha Cha", I am still trying to figure that one out but now I know that's it not a good word when and if I hear it.

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Posted : December 5, 2007 2:01 pm
Cyrano
(@Cyrano)
Advanced Member

I bought a 1950s color postcard of St. Thomas Harbor at a flea market, captioned at bottom "Bird's-Eye View, Cha Cha town, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands". First I heard of Cha Cha.

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Posted : December 5, 2007 3:09 pm
rkurpiers
(@rkurpiers)
Advanced Member

This, according to "Adventure Guide to the Virgin Islands" by Harry S. Pariser...

the people: Some 1,500 strong, the "Frenchies" are a tough people renowned for their fishing and fighting abilities. The two French communities speak different dialects of archaic W. Indian French and retain their cultural distinctions; there has been little intermarriage or even sociability between them. Traditional dress was unique and resembled that found in their native Brittany. Women's heads were adorned with the caleche, the traditional shoulder-length headdress; men wore black and calico shirts with their denim trousers rolled half-way up their legs and went barefoot. Retaining this style of dress after arrival caused the locals to make fun of them. In return, the vitriolic French spat out "cha cha" which means "go to the devil." Ironically, the locals began to refer to the community as "Cha Cha Town," a name which sticks to this day. There has been no love lost between the French and the local blacks--each side regarding the other with derision. Long the lowest socio-economic class in the U.S.V.I., in recent years the French have emigrated in droves to the mainland--where they are readily assimilated.

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Posted : December 5, 2007 5:43 pm
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