Serving as a PCV in an English speaking country certainly has its perks. While I’m probably lost in translation (wonderful film, by the way) a little less than say, someone who has to learn a narrowly-spoken African dialect, it doesn’t mean that I always get the full picture.
In Jamaica, the local creole is called Patois, or Patwa (sometimes padwa, depends on who you’re talking to). While I’m far from fluent (the rhythm is tough for me to tack down), here are a few basic essential phrases:
– Whagwan What’s up?/what’s goin’ on?
– Whappn’? What’s happening/what’s up (greeting)
– Mi dehyuh! I’m here/I’m ok
– Unu chat too much You (all) need to shut up
–Tahp di noise! Really, shut up
– Mi nah romp! I don’t want to play with you
– it too dear it’s too expensive
– whitey/brownin/blackie YOU (depending on skin color, not to be offensive)
– ‘aat bady gyal hot bodied girl
– Mi criss I’m cool/good
– Di ting tun up! It’s really awesome! e.g. Yuh hair style tun up, gyal!
– Watch out fi dis Watch out for this (because I’m about to blow your mind), as in:
To give you a taste, here are some examples of things said to me on my daily walk to school:
“Browniiiinnnn! Whagwan gyal? Yuh gud? Yuh know seh mi gud cuh mi deh see yuh walk pass lookin so nice, yuh ‘aat bady gyal!”
“Psssssst! Miss! laang time mi nuh see yuh! Mi di tink seh yuh gaan a farin!” (“Hey miss! I haven’t seen you in a long time, I thought you went back to America” -guy I saw last week)
A fellow PCV put it perfectly when he said that we learn enough of the language to have some fun with it. I hope that you’ll have some fun with this! Oh, and by the way, Jamaicans actually do say yeah mon. Like, a lot.