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Thursday, 4 June 2015


Schools across France impose a ban on “le tchip”, French for teeth-sucking, a sound made by sucking in air through pursed lips common in African and Afro-Caribbean culture

African child ‘kissing teeth’
Schools in France are imposing a ban on “teeth-sucking” – a sound made with the mouth common in African and Afro-Caribbean culture – because teachers deem it offensive and disrespectful.
“Le tchip” as the French call it, is a mark of annoyance, disapproval or disdain made by sucking air through the teeth through pursed lips while moving the tongue.
It is often referred to as “teeth-sucking” or “kissing the teeth” in English.
Connoisseurs say the practice follows strict cultural rules, making it acceptable to use with peers or subordinates but never towards an elder or employer.
However, these subtleties are apparently lost on many French pupils, who reportedly increasingly unleash “le tchip” in class and in response to teachers.
Now certain schools in France have decided to clamp down on the habit, according to Le Parisien newspaper.
“It’s extremely vulgar,” said Eric Bongo, deputy head teacher at the Charles Baudelaire high school in Evry, near Paris. “I grew up in Africa and when I was young it was forbidden to ‘suck-teeth’ at others.

Charles Baudelaire high school in Evry
“I explained this to my colleagues and now it is forbidden at the school, just like any insult, because it is an insult.”
He said pupils were taken aback by the surprise ban, but that it was essential to help pupils “get rid of certain cultural codes that are inappropriate in the school and business world”.
According to reports in the French press there have been other cases of pupils being thrown out of classes for sucking-teeth.
“In history class, since the start of the year at least 10 people have been thrown out for making a ‘tchip’,” Alyssia, a pupil at a professional lycée in Saint-Ouen, north of Paris, told the paper.
The “tchip” hit the headlines in France in March, when Christiane Taubira, the justice minister, who was born in French Guyana, used it to hit back at a local far-Right Front National candidate who likened her to a monkey.
“There’s something that you do in Creole societies, in Guyana and elsewhere. It’s a very feminine language, and that’s what inspires me. It’s called a ‘tchip’ and it’s pure disdain,” she told iTele, before making the noise.
In a bid to clarify the rules of the the “le tchip”, Yaotcha d’Almeida, a Togolese-Guadeloupian journalist for Franco-German channel Arte explained in an animated film the rules of “tchip” engagement, saying that the ultimate put-down is a prolonged teeth-suck followed by a click of the tongue at the back of the throat, which means: “Don’t even bother saying another word.
As long as the rules were respected, she predicted that soon “all of France will be ‘tchiping’”.
However, the ban drew criticism from some quarters. In Slate France, Emeline Amétis and Vincent Manilève said the ban “stigmatised” pupils from ethnic minorities as it was just one of “myriad ways” pupils express disapproval or insolence, including swear words like “putain”, raising an eyebrow or sighing.

Kissing your teeth … youngsters are expert at using it as deniable rebellion.
Kissing your teeth … youngsters are expert at using it for deniable rebellion. Photograph: Alamy

Now this really is mainstreaming. Just before he disappeared behind the pips at the end of the Today programme last week John Humphrys declared that he was off to practise “kissing my teeth”. I’d like to see that. It would bring a new level of scepticism to his interviews with the great and powerful.
The context was text-speak. Texting is changing the language, it was said. Michael Rosen, the former children’s laureate, who has written a book about the history of letters pronounced himself for progress and evolution. Abbreviations and codes, including that urban, youthful indication of frustration and discombobulation that caught Humphrys’ imagination; KMT – kissing my teeth.
Hilarious that among the gifts we of African and Caribbean origin bring to the culture should be the kissing of the teeth. But it’s not to be embarked upon casually. The basic manoeuvre is a sucking of air through the teeth from behind pursed lips – or as academics describe it, a “velaric ingressive airstream involving closure at two points in the mouth“. But thereafter there is nuance. There is the short, sharp kiss from the front teeth on either side. Usually this denotes minor irritation or mild disapproval. It may be deployed with a shake of the head and perhaps the glimmer of a smile, recognising the absurdity of what has transpired.
Moving up the scale, there is the sucking from further back in the mouth. Longer in duration and louder, this responds to episodes occasioning deeper incredulity. Recounting how a hapless driver hit your car or responding to anything my late mother might have called “foolishness”. This intermediate kiss will often be deployed by school pupils resisting instruction because it is loud enough to signal non-compliance but quiet enough to allow deniability. For a time, young black men found its mere deployment in the presence of a police officer could get them arrested.
The real heavy weapon is the full-frontal: lips fully pursed, air drawn through the mouth at the very centre – a sign of real and deep frustration. Most potent when elongated and dripping with disdain, this is not often deployed but used properly it can be devastating. When George Osborne says: “We’re all in it together,” Humphrys should let rip.

“Why do some black people “suck their teeth” as I believe the phrase is coined?”?

This questionhas been removed once, why? its a freakin’ question! I want to know why they do it?
Update: “Maybe your question should have been
Why do SOME people……….not Why do some BLACK people……
Read the question again CJ!!!!


Best Answer:  Hi, I’m Jamaican. In Jamaica we call it “Kiss teet” (kiss teeth).
We do it to show our disapproval, disagreement and/or anoyance.

If someone p*sses you off you do it, if someone says something stupid you do it, if you see someone you don’t like you do it.
It means “Whatever man, I don’t care what you think, you’re talking crap, talk all you like I’m not listening” It’s showing your disapproval.
:-) We incorporate this into our internet lingo. The internet slang for this is KMT (which means: kiss my teeth).


    People don’t always have to say what they’re thinking. Sometimes body gestures and sounds such as “kiss teeth” say what they want to say and more.
    I’m an African American woman from New Jersey & Pennsylvania. Although my maternal grandparents are from the islands (Barbados and Trinidad), I wasn’t familiar with the phrase “kiss teeth” until I started reading about it on the Internet. But ever since I was a child I knew about “sucking your teeth”. That phrase is often expressed in the warning “Don’t suck your teeth at me!”
    The phrase “suck your teeth” is documented as early as 1915 in Jamaica and is also found in Barbados, Belize, and Guyana, Trinidad, and the United States (particularly among African Americans). In Tobago, kiss teeth is called “hiss teeth” and in the Cayman Islands it is called “sucking your mouth”. 
    “Kiss” and “hiss” are onomatopoeic “[that’s the sound you make when doing it].
    In the Caribbean kiss teeth is represented by the initials “KST” (kiss teeth) and “KMT” (kiss my teeth). Among people from the Caribbean, kiss teeth can be represented in writing using the words “Cho!”, “Chups”, “Tchuipe, “Chupes”, “Stchuup”, and similarly spelled words. These words are both nouns and verbs.
    A well deserved ode to the tjoerie. The what?!? The tjoerie, which is the Surinamese word for what is known in the French West Indies as ‘le tchip’ and in the English speaking part of the Caribbean as ‘kiss-teeth’.
    When something or someone becomes too annoying, one always has an effective weapon at their disposal: a long, cricket-like sound of which the effect combined with rolling eyes is deadly insulting. There is no one that does not respect a good tjoerie.

    You Know You’re Jamaican When… Celebrating JAMAICA’s 50th
    Examples of kiss teeth are shown in that video at 1:45 – 1:46 and at 2:15 – 2:33.
    Notice the neck roll and cut eye (rolling eye) movement that usually accompanied kiss teeth.
    Researchers have documented KMT in West Africa, as well as in the Caribbean, and in certain South American nations which have significant populations of people of African descent. Of course, KST is also found in other nations such as the United Kingdom where there are Caribbean, African American, and African residents.
    KMT can convey a wide range of emotions including (in no particular order) disgust, disdain, defiance, exasperation, annoyance, displeasure, disrespect, scorn, insult, sorrow, impatience, disagreement, disapproval, dislike, and vexation.
    Here’s a quote about “chupse” (kiss teeth) that is included in this previously mentioned pdf
    The Meaning Of Kiss Teeth
    Esther Figueroa (USA) Peter L Patrick (UK)
    The chupse is not a word, it is a whole language. There is the small effortless chupse of indifference; the thin hard chupse of disdain; the long, liquid, vibrating chupse that shakes the rafters and expresses every kind of defiance. It is the universal language of the West Indies, the passport to confidence from Jamaica to British South America. How dare the compiler downgrade it to a mere word!(from the “Barbados Advocate”, quoted in Collymore, 1970)
    Here’s a review of the book “Cut-Eye” and “Suck-Teeth”:African Words and Gestures in New World Guise by John R. Rickford and Angela E. Rickford:
    An investigation questioned whether the words and gestures “cut-eye” and “suck-teeth,” evident in Guyana, represent African survivals, and how widely these are recognized in the Caribbean, the United States and Africa. Caribbean data were drawn from observations, dictionaries and interviews. U.S. data came from questionnaires administered to both blacks and whites. African students were also questioned. In Guyana, “cut-eye” is a visual gesture indicating hostility or disapproval. A glare is delivered followed by a vertical or diagonal sweep of the eye over the other person. “Cut-eye” insults by visually invading another’s territory and turning away contemptuously. The gesture was familiar to all West Indians interviewed. In the U.S., nearly all black informants were familiar with the term, but few of the whites. All African informants recognized the gesture. “Suck-teeth” refers to the gesture of drawing in air through the teeth to produce a sucking sound. It expresses anger, exasperation or annoyance, and is stronger and ruder than “cut-eye.” It is known throughout the Caribbean, by black Americans, though not by whites, and by Africans. The study provides evidence that Africanisms persist in the New World even in commonplace expressions and gestures. (CHK)

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