Wednesday, April 30, 2008

English in Jamaica: Is That REALLY English?

Walk With Me
Along the white coral beach, palms sway in rhythm to tropical sea breezes while dust devils dance along stretches of vacant sand.

Can you hear it? Reggae beats drift through the air amid smells of spicy jerked pork barbequing over the red glow of charcoal grills.

Linger a bit longer and you just might catch a whiff of pungent “ganja” being smoked some where not too far away. There might be some Rastafarians nearby, you say to yourself.

Welcome to Jamaica.

English is the first language here, but without some specialized practice, fine-tuned ears and a healthy dose of linguistic patience, you very likely may not understand much of the local English “patois”.

“Is that REALLY English?” you might ask yourself. Yes, my dear, it is. And a proud variety of English it is too. Indeed, to talk Jamaican is a unique experience.

One of the inherent tasks of teaching EFL or of communicating world wide in English as a lingua franca, is to fathom the language in a variety of dialects, patois, pidgins and their accompanying accents. Try listening to this Reggae / Hip Hop patois English song video (linked here and posted below) by Sean Paul as one example.

Talking Jamaican
Would like to try your hand at “talking Jamaican”? Then try wrapping your tongue around these examples:

"A fe me cyar."
Translation: "It's my car."

"Mi a go lef tiday."
Translation: "I am leaving today."

"Sell mi wan bokkle a iyl."
Translation: "Sell me a bottle of oil."

"Dat a mi bredda."
Translation: "That is my brother."

"Coodeh, yuh see de big bud eena de tree?"
Translation: "Look at the big bird in the tree."

"Bwaay! Mi did tink de test wudda eazy."
Translation: "Boy! I though that test would have been easy.

"Mi like yuh cris cyar."
Translation :"I like your new car."

"Yuh did see dat?" "A who dat?"
Translation: "Did you see that?" "Who is that?"

"She a mi bess bess fren."
Translation: "She is my best friend."

"Oonu can cum wid mi."
Translation: "You all can come with me."

Listen to Jamaican Speech
To hear the speech and sounds for yourself and for some additional examples, visit the sites at:, or

Speak Jamaican at:

Interested in learning a foreign language quickly, easily and with a minimum of hassle? Then just click HERE.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-book, “If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.

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