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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Jamaican Patois

You cannot come to the island of Jamaica, without noticing the people do speak differently. Actually, it is forbidden in many Jamaican homes to speak, "patois."

The debate going on in Jamaica for many years has been the wheter or not Patois is a language or just a slang for Jamaica.


The technical definition of the term Creole means-, a language which comes into being through contact between two or more languages. The most important part about this definition is that a new language comes about which was not there before, yet it has some characteristics of the original language(s) and also has some characteristics of its own. The Creole of Jamaica and the Caribbean is referred to as an 'English-lexicon' and this language came about when African slaves were forced into a situation where English, or at least a very reduced form of English, was the only common means of communication.

The slave traders and owners spoke English while the slaves spoke a variety of African languages and the slaves had to assimilate by learning English which explains why much of the vocabulary is English in origin. Although there is much English vocabulary, many words were also adopted from African languages when no equivalent English word could be found such as, words for people, things, plants, animals, activities, and especially religious words (Sebba 1, 1996, 50-1.) The name Jamaica itself was derived from the Arawak word Xaymaca meaning "Island of springs," but no other known trace(s) of the Arawak, the indigenous inhabitants of Jamaica, exist today.

The debate surrounding the use of Patois as opposed to Standard English includes a number of issues and dates back to the times of slavery when Jamaicans had Standard English presented as a superior language and the indigenous language was denigrated to an inferior status. Today, more than 90% of the 2.5 million people in Jamaica are descendants of slaves brought from western Africa by the British. English is the official language but, Patois is the local language and still holds its' Africa.

Below is an example of Jamaican Patois.

For more examples or more of the history please see: http://www.reggaemovement.com/History/patois.htm


USA Translation to Jamaican
by Donmerican

USA: It's been a long time since I have seen you, girl.
JA: Gal yuh noh dead yet?

USA: Lord, we have lost electricity again!
JA: Lawd Gad, current lack aff again!

USA: Where did you buy that awful bracelet, Cindy?
JA: A weh yuh buy dat deh big ole ugly bangle deh, missus?

USA: Hors d'oeuvres.
JA: Ah wah dis likkle sinting yuh a gi me?

USA: I think something is wrong with Susan, she might have the flu.
JA: Lawd Gad, breeze tek up Suzie!

USA: Girl, those shoes are the bomb.
JA: Gyal, yuh roach killa dem a seh one out deh.

USA: Oh my gosh, I just broke Mom's expensive plate.
JA: Lawd mi Gad, mi bruk up Mama stoosh crackry.

USA: Aren't those pants a bit short?
JA: Yuh did a expect flood ar yuh tek yuh measurement inna wata?

USA: Why are you squeezing the mangoes like that?
JA: Lissen mi nuh, mi a beg yuh stap fingle-fingle up di mango dem.

USA: Sir, please don't throw my luggage like that.
JA: Aye buff teet bwoy, tap fling up-fling up mi bag dem suh man.

USA: I wish you would quit lying.
JA: Tap di blinkin lyin, yuh ole liyad.

USA: Lift the hood off the car for me, John.
JA: Hey my yute, fly di bonnet!

4 comments:

Leon said...

Hi Iriegal. There was a Caribbean blogger link up yesterday. Read here for details.

iriegal said...

Thanks Leon, I was not even aware of the site. It looks like everyone had fun. Nice turn out. Maybe next year I can make it to next event.

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