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Jamaican Sayings & Proverbs

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Jamaican sayings (or proverbs) reflects mainly our deep African and European influences.

In usually just one sentence, they tell life's stories, conveying significant approaches and ideas about nature, human behavior, health and religion- from generations to generations.

As amusing and cool they usually are, they seek to inject the notion of respect and patience with each other.

Understanding what we are saying however assumes some level of familiarity with the Jamaican culture.

So here are a few of them with their perceived (in English) meanings:

jamaican sayings and proverbs
  1. "Mi old, but mi nuh cold" 
    [Do not underestimate the value of the elderly]

  2. "Every mikkle mek a mukkle" 
    [Every little bit counts]

  3. "Every dawg has his day and every puss his 4 o'clock" 
    [Today for me, tomorrow for you]

  4. "Cock mouth kill cock" 
    [Watch your mouth, it can get in the great trouble!]

  5. "Sorry fi mawga dog, mawga dog wi tun round bite you" [Sometimes it is those whom we help who are the least grateful]

  6. "Duppy know who fi frighten" 
    [Bullies pick on those who can defend themselves the least]

  7. "De olda de moon, de brigher it shines" 
    [The older a person is, the wiser]

  8. "Hog say, 'de first dutty water mi ketch, mi wash'." 
    [Make use of the first opportunities that comes your way]

  9. "One eye man a king in blind man country". 
    [No matter how bad your situation seems, there is always another for whom things are worse]

  10. "Talk and taste your tongue" 
    [Think before you speak]

  11. "Cockroach nuh business inna fowl fight" 
    [Don't get involved in this that don't concerns you]

  12. "One, one coco full basket" 
    [Do not expect to achieve success overnight, take it slowly]

  13. "Chicken merry; hawk deh [is] near" 
    [Be careful when things are going too good for you as its always possible that danger is around the corner]

  14. "Mi throw mi corn, but me no call no fowl" 
    [A statement is made, the guilty party will pick it up]

  15. "What sweet nanny goat ago run eeh belly" 
    [That that appear too good, can hurt you]

  16. "See and Blind, Hear and Deaf" 
    [Sometimes you need to give a deaf ear, and turn a blind eye to things in order to not get involved]

  17. "fire deh a mus-mus tail him tink a cool breeze" 
    [You may be heading for trouble and don't even realize it]

  18. "Yuh tink a one day monkey want wife?" 
    [Do think you won't need my help in the future? Never forget those who help you]

  19. "Every hoe have dem stik a bush" 
    [There's someone out there for everyone]

  20. And finally, "Wanti, wanti, cyan getti, getti, getti nuh want it" [Count your blessings and do not take what you have for granted- others may just be hoping they had what you have]

Do enjoy these Jamaican sayings and proverbs, but listen to the message in them as well - and learn.

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