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Speaking Jamaica Patois – Part 2


Permalink 05:19:33 pm, by Melba
Categories: Culture, Commentary

Speaking Jamaica Patois – Part 2

So, were you able to say the test sentences from part 1 in Jamaican patois?


Test .

Can you say the following in Jamaica patois.

1. The bottle is empty. -  De bokkle hempty.

2. My mother loves ginger tea. – Mi madda lov ginga tea.

3. I cut my little finger with the paper. – Mi cut mi likkle finga wid de paypa.

Well done.

In this article, we will examine how Jamaicans address each other. Most persons will address their friends, neighbours and colleagues by their first or last name. In Jamaica, however, many persons don’t even know the correct names of some of their acquaintances. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear persons at funerals comment, ‘a so him did name, all dis time mi neva know’. Yes, at first introductions, actual names are exchanged however Jamaicans tent to give each other nicknames. In most cases these names are used as a term of endearment and not meant to insult or ridicule.

Nicknames among friends are usually personal and can be based on physical features, specific likes or childhood preference or behavioural pattern to name a few. Examples:

Physical features – Bulbie – for someone with a big nose.

Specific likes or childhood preference – Tweety – after a cartoon character which the individual likes.

Behavioural pattern – Sunshine – for someone who is always smiling.

These nicknames which are known and tolerated between friends however are not always accepted from strangers, especially if they are not complimentary.

Whether friends, casual acquaintances or complete strangers Jamaican tend to address everyone by a nickname. Some of the more popular nicknames among strangers and general acquaintances usually refer to the colour of the skin, the race, the size or the age of an individual. Examples:


Colour - The colour of one’s skin is often used among young adults.


Females – Browning, Empress

Males – Brown man, Black man, Reds

Race -

All Orientals - Chinese, Japanese, Korean

Females – Ms Chin

Male – Mr Chin

All Indians –

Females – Collie, Indian

Male – Collie, Indian


Females – Fluffly, Lushus, Tiny, Slim thing

Males – Bigga, Big man


Child – Pickney, likkle bowy, likkle girl

Young person – Sista, bredda

Adult – Auntie, Uncle

Full Adult – God modda, Godfadda, Moms, Mommy, Dads

Ironically, the world wide accepted addresses of “Sir” or “Madame”, is frowned upon by the many Jamaicans. Is this a cultural thing, I have no idea? When asked, they will tell you that they don’t like it for themselves so they don’t use it for others. Most service providers, especially in the rural areas will refer to an adult female between the ages of about 40 to 60 years as “Mommy”, which in their estimation is a high honour.


So, the next time you are amongst Jamaicans and they give you a nick name, believe me, it’s all good. You don’t even have to answer, just smile and go about your business.  However, beware, if you ‘gwan like yu nice’, and ignore them you may get another name which usually won’t be complimentary.


Nuff Love


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Reasons why I love my Jamaican Mom

1. My Mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
"Just wait till we get home."

2. My Mother taught me about RECEIVING.
"You going get a ass'n when we get home!"

3. My Mother taught me to MEET A CHALLENGE.
"What di backside yu thinkin'? Answer me when me talk to you...Don't talk back to me!"

4. My Mother taught me CONSEQUENCES.
"If yu run cross de road an' cyar lick yu dung, a goin' kill yu wid lick."

5. My Mother taught me THE VALUE OF EDUCATION.
"If yu no go a school, yu a go tun tief or walk an' pick up bottle."

6. My Mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
"If yu tun over yu eye lid an fly pitch pan it, it a go stay so fi evva."

7. My Mother taught me to THINK AHEAD.
"Is not one time monkey goin' wan' wife"

8. My Mother taught me ESP.
"Yu tink a don't know what yu up to nuh?"

9. My Mother taught me HUMOR.
"If yu don' eat food, breeze goin' blow yu 'way."

10. My Mother taught me how to BECOME AN ADULT.
"Come an' tek yu beatin' like man."

11. My Mother taught me about SEX.
"Yu tink say yu drop from sky?"

12. My Mother taught me about GENETICS.
"Yu jus' like yu faada."

13. My Mother taught me about my ROOTS.
"Yu tink mi come from "Back A Wall?"

14. My Mother taught me about WISDOM OF AGE.
"When yu get to be as ol' as me, yu wi understan'."

15. And my all time favorite... JUSTICE.
"One day wen yu have pickney, a hope dem treat yu same way."


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