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Common Jamaican Patois Sayings

Jamaicans are usually saying proverbs. Which are things that generally apply in lots of different situations. Today we’ll go over some Jamaican Patois Proverbs that are usually handed through the generations. Take these little “wisdoms” lightly and apply them in your life, when you see fit.

 

Here are a Colletion of Common/ Uncommon Jamaican Sayings! I Hope you enjoy them:

I’ll Say the Patois Expression and then repeat the same Standard English expression after.

  • Mi old, but mi nuh cold [Do not underestimate the value of the elderly]
  • What a fi yu, cyaan be un fi yu [What is yours will always be yours]
  • Who born fi heng cyaan drown [You can’t control destiny]
  • Play wid puppy, puppy lick yu mout [Familiarity breeds contempt]
  • Every hoe have dem stik a bush [There’s someone out there for everyone]
  • If fish deh a river bottom an tell yu seh alligator have gum boil, believe him! [Listen to the voice of experience]
  • Sorry fi mawga dog, mawga dog wi tun round bite you [Sometimes it is those whom we help who are the least grateful]
  • Dawg a sweat an long hair hide it [All that glitters is not gold]
  • Jamaican Saying: ole fia stick easy fi ketch. [Meaning: easy to get something that you once had it before.]
  • Talk and taste your tongue [Think before you speak].
  • Young bud nuh know storm [Experience teaches wisdom]
  • Johncrow always tink im picney pretty [Parent always think there children are beautiful]
  • heng pan nail [Looking tired]
  • Man nuh dead nuh call dem duppy [Never underestimate people]
  • What sweet nanny goat ago run eeh belly [That that appear too good, can hurt you]
  • Fire deh a mus-mus tail him tink a cool breeze [You may be heading for trouble and don’t even realize it]
  • Di higher monkey climb, di more him expose himself [The higher your status, the more your vulnerabilities are exposed]
  • When trouble ketch yu pickney shut fit yu [Any port in a storm]
  • One, one coco full basket [Do not expect to achieve success overnight, take it slowly]
  • 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]
  • Every hoe ha dem tick a bush [There’s that perfect someone for everyone]
  • Good fowl a go a market sensei fowl pick up themself deh follow back a dem [Person with class being copied by ghetto individual.]
  • Every mikkle mek a mukkle [Every little bit counts]
  • De olda de moon, de brigher it shines [The older a person is, the wiser]
  • Rock stone a river bottom cyaan know sun hot [He who feels it knows it]
  • Gi mi sponge fi go dry up sea [Giving one an impossible task to do.]
  • When puss belly full im seh rat batty bitter [People forget where they come from]
  • Wanti wanti can’t get it, getti getti no want it [The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.]
  • Puss and dawg nuh have di same luck [Some people are luckier than others]
  • Every dawg has his day and every puss his 4 o’clock [Today for me, tomorrow for you]
  • Cockroach nuh business inna fowl fight [Don’t get involved in this that don’t concerns you]
  • Ole fire stick easy fi ketch [It’s easy to rekindle an old romance]
  • how watah walk go a punkin belly [How thing happen, what will happen (usually used as a threat)]
  • Jamaican Saying: “ride & wistle” [Meaning: Be able to do more than one thing at a time,eg, talk & work]
  • Mi throw mi corn, but me no call no fowl [A statement is made, the guilty party will pick it up]
  • 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]
  • Chicken merry, hawk deh near.[ Be careful when things are going too good for you as its always possible that danger is around the corner.]
  • 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]
  • 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]
  • Hog picney sey momma momma how yuh mouth so long, momma sey by & by yuh wi si [Children questioning parents why certain things happen, mother’s reply wait & you will see]
  • Cock mouth kill cock [Watch your mouth, it can get in the great trouble!]
  • Hog say, ‘de first dutty water mi ketch, mi wash’. [Make use of the first opportunities that comes your way]
  • 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]
  • Duppy know who fi frighten [Bullies pick on those who can defend themselves the least]

And There You have it! A collection of Jamaican Patwa Phrases That are common and not so common. I hope you enjoyed them and I hope you apply them to Your Life!

Duppy

 

Do you believe in ghosts? This is one of the fundamental questions you were faced with as a child. Well we all know growing up in Jamaica that duppys was one of the most fundamental things that faced us. Especially while growing up in the rural areas that usually had lots of miles between street lights. This is probably one of the reasons that Jamaicans are such fast runners because as a child walking at night actually meant sprinting between street lights.

Now what happened one time was that we had to go on the back roads and this meant passing a cemetery. A Jamaican cemetery is a different case not just because it’s more open and it’s usually in a dark place where there are no houses or lights close by. So we set out and we walked through the back roads coming from primary school after a nice evening of playing cricket which was exceptionally fun except that it made us stay late.

Being that this was Jamaica you had to go home by foot only and being this late it was good we had a group of about 4 people together and this motivated us to go the back route. Otherwise we would have had to run on the main roads. I had never seen a duppy before but my friend shane had said he saw them multiple times. I even had my friend junior say he saw a rolling calf once. Like who even know what that is? I had never seen that before and to this day I still don’t know what it is.

When we were passing the cemetery being the open nature (no gates, no walls) we could see the mass graves and the bushes, and being that there were NO and I mean absolutely NO streetlights we were a bit scared. It was one of the few times you’d see boys running away scared from something because they thought they saw a ghost. Man I tell you… those were good times.

Truant!!

Do you like going on the rivers and having a good time? If so then you probably have heard of rafting. In Jamaica people raft but with a fun twist. The rafts are made from bamboo which are cut and dragged painstakingly (trust me its hard work I’ve had to do it) from the woods and into yards where they are cut and put together. It was one of those days for a Jamaican boy when he is coming from school but doesn’t feel like going home that craig had and in going into the woods there was an adventure in the making.
It was one of those days after primary school when craig and his cousin Shane were in truant mode. They didn’t feel like going directly home and decided that they would explore. So they set off exploring the hills of Jamaica and what they found on the rivers could not have been better. They had discovered a bamboo raft completely functional and abandoned.
With this the boys decided they must have the raft and so they took it and hid it in the bushes. The next day they returned not knowing if the raft had was still there. Luckily it was there and they decided that they must take it out for a test and this proved to be a costly mistake. There was a small fall in the river and as the boys rafted down the stream they went over the waterfall unknowingly and plunged deep into the water.
The boys realizing what had just happened decided that the best course of action would be to recover the raft. In doing so Shane had cut himself. Shane tried to keep up with Craig but soon found that his wound was too much. The boys decided to go home without the raft after this and in doing so go angry responses from their parents in jamaican patwa. Their lesson? Never truant.

Don’t fish if you aren’t a good swimmer

They say fishing is what of the more calming things to do. Where a man can just go out and be one with nature, be at peace with himself and have a good time. Fishing is the ultimate stress relief… or so they say. Fishing in Jamaica is different because it is not as sophisticated as fishing in America but in general people tend to have more fun doing it.
Craig and his cousin shane used to always go fishing by the river. On this day he decided to go with j.j and shane. The first thing that they had to do which is important was to dig up worms. This was an endeavor in itself because it required going through deep shrubbery and then digging up dirt where there were wasp’s nests and many other dangers, to get worms. Getting worms would not have been difficult if jj hadn’t disturbed the wasps and sent them coming towards craig and shane.
It was about 3 stings later that craig was running around trying to get rid of the wasps. Eventually they reached the river where they could finally relax and catch some fix. Because of the way Jamaican people fished, it was a bit difficult as they used a line and hook instead of a fishing rod. The line and hook was much simpler to create and gave them much more control over the fishing. Having a line and hook instead of a fishing rod is like having a manual transmission. It gives more control.
They decided to cross the river and this would prove to be problematic, because jj was not a good swimmer. Craig and shane made it across fine but as jj ran bravely into the water, he started to drown. He yelled “help me” and craig saw himself quickly jumping in to save jj. This ordeal would teach the boys that you must be a good swimmer when fishing. Especially in Jamaican waters.

Kingston and Traveling Jamaica tips

If you lived in the town then you know just taking a trip into the city can be a very dangerous yet exciting affair. This particular time we decided we would take a long 3 hour drive from the hills of ST Elizabeth to the city of Kingston.
So they set off early in the morning about 5am with Craig and his family hiring a taxing going from the country to the great city of Kingston. Though known for its high crime rate and poor living conditions Kingston can be a very vibrant and beautiful place to visit and that is why the family decided to go. Also Craig’s father had his sister there and he could visit her.
Now Jamaica is a land of contrast and anyone who has not taken a trip like this across Jamaica needs to immediately. Craig had never seen such wonderful scenery. The first part of the trip involved going through Santa Cruz which was an amazing site with stalls selling groceries, many fruit stands. After that there is spur tree hill which is a road that literally wraps around a mountain until you are at the top. Imagine going up a mountain and then looking back on the city from where you came. This is what Craig saw and he enjoyed every bit of it. He had read in the Jamaican gleaner once before that talked about spur tree hill and how it was built.
After that they had to go through Clarendon as after spur tree hill in Manchester they found nothing else that they enjoyed there. Clarendon however was a different story it had many hills and gullies and driving looking at the city below was amazing. After Clarendon they came to Spanish Town St Catherine. This is one of the more amazing cities in Jamaica due to its sentimental value that comes from how old it is. it was an old Spanish colonial town which was taken over upon the capture of Jamaica by the British. Because of this it has many old buildings and a Spanish look and feel to it that has British and African details added.
Now they reached Kingston and went up to the hills of Kingston where the view was amazing. Now tips for Kingston to enjoy it to the max are
Never go to places known to be dangerous as it could mean your life.
Stay in tourist areas
Do not give money to strangers or buy things from people you don’t find trustable.
Here is a photo of the kingston hills view

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