Are you traveling to Jamaica? To help you get around during your beach vacation on the island we have gathered a few phrases in Patois that might come in handy.
Key Jamaican Patois Phrases
|Popular Jamaican Expressions||English Translation|
|Whata gwaan?||What is going on?|
|Howdi do?||How are you?|
|Yuh deh home?||Are you home?|
|Yuh hab no fus-aid kit||Do you have a first aid kit?|
|Gud mawnin||Good morning|
|Wah yuh ah duh||What are you doing?|
|Tenk yuh||Thank You|
|Mi miss yuh||I miss you|
|Yuh go dweet?||Are you going to do it?|
|Is ready yuh ready already?||Are you ready now?|
|Mi deh go pah tour tomarraw||I am going on the tour tomorrow|
|Dis man sell wi kuk-nat||This man sold us some coconuts|
|Tell mi weh wi find Dunns Riva falls||Tell me where I can find Dunns River Falls|
|Jamdung nice so til||Jamaica is so nice|
|Siddung steady||Please sit and be quiet|
|Tap yah so||Please stop here|
|Tell me when yuh ready||Tell me when you are ready|
|Wah deh pah di menu||What’s on the menu?|
|Ounu ready||Are you ready?|
|Kip di change||Keep the change|
|Di otel beach did nice||The hotel beach was nice|
|Weh di craf ma-aket deh||Where is the craft market?|
|Mi no wah dat deh one||I don’t want that one|
Jamaican Patois is a rich language first developed by African people brought to the island as slaves by the Europeans. Amstar Destination Manager for Jamaica, Richard Bourke, connoisseur, and lover of all things Jamaica, shares with us some key phrases of this unique and vital element of Jamaican national identity.
Patois, pronounced patwa, is a unique language that originated in Jamaica. The roots of Jamaican Patois go back to the days of slavery starting with the Spanish Occupation of the island and continued through British colonialism. It is a continuously evolving language and new words are added on a regular basis. All Jamaicans understand English, however, most speak Patois. If you’re struggling to understand, just ask your Jamaican friend to slow down a bit; we tend to speak quickly and one word rolls into another!
To help you out on your next trip to Jamaica, here are some basic guidelines and key phrases for Jamaican Patois that will make your next trip to our beautiful island even that much more pleasant.
- In words that start with H, the H is usually dropped or silent and we tend to add an H on any word that starts with a vowel. “Am and hegg“(ham and egg) or as follows:
Teacha, ‘arry tek a ‘amma fi ‘it mi inna mi ‘ead – Teacher, Harry took a hammer to hit me in my head
Bwoy, Hemphasize yu Haitches Yu Hignorant Heediot – Boy, Emphasize Your H’s You ignorant idiot.
- We also do dis, dat, deese and doese instead of this, that, these and those.
- With Patois, we also tend to repeat things:
Is ready yu ready already – Are you ready?
Is come I come fi come call yu – I have come to call you.
Some of the examples above are overstated for emphasis, but I guess you get the idea.
Photo by: https://www.flickr.com/vox_efx/
Whatever you say and no matter the language there’s one key that will always get you by: a nice smile. And remember, if you don’t understand, just ask your new-found Jamaican friends to repeat themselves slower and I am sure you will get what you need to know.
And for those of you wanting a little more detail, check out this great video by Jamaican Sinting:
Richard Bourke is the Managing Director of Amstar DMC in Jamaica. Born in 1960 to Jamaican parents, Richard has spent over 30 years working in the country’s hospitality industry. Currently, President of the Trelawny Chamber of Commerce as well as the SKAL Club of Montego Bay, Mr. Bourke also acted as the former Chairman of the Montego Bay Chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association. An avid proponent of all things Jamaican and a certified PADI dive master, his passions and hobbies include deep sea fishing, open water sailing, golf, growing orchids as well as all things culinary (cooking, eating out and wines). Richard is married and has one daughter.
Amstar dmc is your local expert for all your destination needs, including airport transfers and excursions. With over 25 years experience providing world class customer service and inspiring travel experiences, Amstar is online and in destination 365 days a year. Yah mon!
Cover photo credit: Jus’ Chillin | CC image via flickr.com/donhomer