Weh yuh say? Jamaican Patois for beginners

IMG_1421Yeah mon! 

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.



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