Jamaican Patois

by Denise Salmon
(Kingston)

If you plan to visit Jamaica, then it would be great for you to learn at least some of the basics of Jamaican Patois. This will make it much easier for you to communicate with Jamaicans.


You may even be able to impress you friends with your newly learned Jamaican language :-)

Make a note of this as an example, when I want to know how you are doing. I'll ask , "Wat a gwaan?" And if everything is alright with you. You'll say , "everyting gud" or "mi aarite".

But If everything is not so good with you. You could say "tings no so gud right now?"
I know you'll really enjoy talking patois as you'll find out that you won't be using so many words; it a very abrupt, concise language ;-)

These are a few words that are quite popular that would be good for you to know as well:


Word - English Meaning


Howdy - How are you
Mawnin - Good morning
Chat - Talk
Na - Not
Si dung - Sit down
Mek - Make
Ova - Over
Deh - There
Tun - Turn
Ya - Here
Sah - Sir
Gal - Girl
Bway - Boy
Ting - Thing
Mi - Me, I or my
Fi - For
Yu - you
Caan - Can't or Carry
Patwa - Patois

The language of Jamaica was developed on the island. It is derived from the culmination of the many languages that came to Jamaica, although it is constructed more from English and African Languages.

And by the way, there is a renewed interest in more Jamaicans wanting our language to more recognized.
In fact, there is a call for Jamaicans to see more Patois being spoken in Parliament and in the media.
The idea is the more Jamaicans would be able to understand what is happening with the country's politica & economy.

And through and greater understanding, they would become more involved as they would be motivated to do more to make their country better.

Currently, there are many Jamaican dictionaries, in fact there is also a Jamaican patois bible! so I know you'll be talking patois very soon, and you'll really enjoy talking like this.

Just temember that the Jamaican patois is spoken a bit different in different parts of the island, but once you learn the basics you will be able to understand us Jamaicans when we speak :-)

Related: Language of Jamaica

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Jul 18, 2013
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Jamaican Patois
by: Helen (the Germaican)

I love this language!!! Unfortunately I understand very little and can speak still less. But if you are interested in the culture and the music of Jamaica, you MUST learn Patois, no matter how difficult it is if you are far away.

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