Patois Articles

Speak Jamaican

We Jamaicans speak a unique version of English like no one else in the world. Below is a sampling of what some “English experts” have labeled “patois” but what we Jamaicans call “Real English”.

“A fe me cyar.”
Translation: “It’s my car.”

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

“Im too haad eaize.”
Translation: “He/She is too stubborn.”

“Axe har de question.”
Translation: “Ask her the question.”

“Im badda dan dem.” “Nuh bodda mi.”
Translation: “He is worse than they are.” “Don’t bother me.”

“Bare dog dung inna dat yard.”
Translation: “There are only dogs in that yard.”

“No bodda bawl im soon cum bak.”
Translation: “Don’t bother crying he’ll soon be back.”

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

“Dat a mi bredda.”
Translation: “That is my brother.”

“Is who bruk de bokkle a iyl?”
Translation: “Who broke the bottle of oil?”

“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.

“The parson sey de marriage cerfitikit soon cum inna de mail.”
Translation: “The pastor said that the marriage certificate will be coming soon in the mail.”

“Mi love chaklit cake with nuff icenin.”
Translation: “I love chocolate cake with plenty of icing.”

“Mi a go bak a wuk pan Chewsday.”
Translation: “I am going back to work on Tuesday.”

“Di chuck want tree new tyres.”
Translation: “The truck will need three new tires.”

“Cuyah, she gwan lak she nice eee?”
Translation: “Look at that, she acts like she is so nice.”

“Chobble nuh nice.” “Yuh inna big chobble.”
Translation: “Trouble is not nice.” “You are in big trouble.”

“Mi cyan ‘elp yuh wit dat problem.”
Translation : “I cannot help you with that problem.”

“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?”

“Dat dawta pretty lakka money.” “A fi mi dawta.”
Translation: “That daughter is pretty like money.” “Is my daughter.”

“Mista Brown dawg bite mi.”
Translation: “Mr. Brown’s dog bit me.”

“De bwoy dem teif di bleach outta de wata.”
Translation: “The boys stole the bleach out of the water.”

“Dem a wan no good bunch.”
Translation: “They are a no good bunch.”

“Mi did de deh pan Chewsday.”
Translation: “I was there on Tuesday.”

“Dis cyar a my own.”
Translation: “This car is mine.”

“Yuh nuh dun yet?”
Translation: “You have not finished yet?”

“A di dutty duppy man dweet.”
Translation: “The dirty ghost did it.”

“Ef yuh chobble ‘im, me a guh bax yuh”.
Translation”If you trouble him, I am going to hit you.”

“Ello, mi can help yuh wid someting?”
Translation: “Hello, can I help you with something?”

“Di wola dem a me fambly.”
Translation: “All of them are my family.”

“Yuh tuh fass and facety.”
Translation: “You are too inquisitive and fresh.”

“Yuh ‘ave any flim lef inna de camera?”
Translation: “Do you have any film left in the camera?”

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

“Galang bout yuh business.”
Translation: “Go along about your business.”

“Gimme wan tall glass a wata please.”
Translation: “Give me a tall glass of water please.”

“Mass Garden a plant flowas inna de gyarden.”
Translation: “Mr. Gordon is planting flowers in the garden.”

“Who hav mi watch?”
Translation: “Who has my watch?”

“Mi bak a hat mi.”
Translation: “My back is hurting me.”

“Is which wan a oonu nyam mi hegg?”
Translation: “Which one of you ate my egg?”

“Im sey yuh fi bring di ting.”
Translation: “He or She said you were to bring the thing.”

“A wan irie likkle place.”
Translation: “It’s a very nice place.”

“Mi need sum iyl fi fry de fish.”
Translation: “I need some oil to fry the fish.”

“Mi len out de money an noh mi inna wan jam.”
Translation: “I lent out some money and now I am in some trouble.”

“Jesum Peeze, a cyan bleve dat mi lose de game.”
Translation: “Oh my Gosh or Wow a can’t believe I lost that game.”

“Is you cawz de accident.”
Translation: “You are the one that caused the accident.”

“Yu can cyarri dis cow pan yuh chuck?”
Translation: “Can you carry this cow on your truck?”

“An a jus lass nite mi di deh.”
Translation: “And it was just last night I was there.”

“A lang time mi dey inna dis yah lang line.”
Translation: “Its been a long time since I have been in this long line.”

“Lawd ‘ave mercy pan Miss Percy.”
Translation: “Lord have mercy on Miss Percy.”

“Lef mi nuh.”
Translation: “Leave me alone.”

“De bwoy a de biggest liad.”
Translation: “The boy is a big liar.”

“Im get wan big lick fram de teacha.”
Translation: “He got a big hit from the teacher.”

“Beg a likkle bokkle ah milk.”
Translation: “I asking for a little bottle of milk.”

“Mi madda sey yuh fi lef mi.”
Translation: “My mother said that you are to leave me alone.”

“Ole still, mi si wan big maskitta pan yu foot.”
Translation: “Hold still, I see a big mosquito on your foot.”

“Im mek up im mind areddy.”
Translation: “He made up his mind already.”

“Tek de neegle an sew de peeca clawt.”
Translation: “Take the needle and sew the piece of cloth.”

“De nex time mi will buy.”
Translation: “The next time I will buy.”

“How yuh nyam summuch?”
Translation: “How do you eat so much?”

“Put de bag unda de seat.”
Translation: “Put de bag under the seat.”

“Mi ah de ongle one dat did stay till it dun.”
Translation: “I was the only one that stayed till it was finished.”

“Is dat ooman deh did tek mi money.”
Translation: “That is the woman that took my money.”

“Ooo goes dere?”
Translation: “Who goes there?”

“Yu ave any callaloo?”
Translation: “Do you have any callaloo?”

“Is Mista Garden pickney dem.”
Translation: “It is Mr. Gordon’s children.”

“Mi wud radda yu nuh chat to mi.”
Translation: “I would rather you not talk to me.”

“See yu pan Satday.”
Translation: “See you on Saturday.”

“Put de sinting inna de bag.”
Translation: “Put the something in the bag.”

“Smaddy tell mi sey yuh did a chat bout mi.”
Translation: “Somebody told me you were talking about me.”

“Sell mi tree poun a swimps.”
Translation: “Sell me three pounds of shrimps.”

“Tan deh tink sey im a guh ‘elp yu.”
Translation: “Stand there thinking he is going to help you.”

“Tanks fe de glass a ice wata.”
Translation: “Thanks for the glass of ice water.”

“Tek yu time an mine it bruk.”
Translation: “Take your time, you might break it.”

“Mista Brown mi see tree bwoy inna yu mango tree.”
Translation:” Mr. Brown I saw three boys up in your mango tree.”

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

“Wattagwan wid John?”
Translation:” What’s going on with John?”

“De wata dutty so nuh play inna it.”
Translation: “The water is dirty so don’t play in it.”

“Im jook mi inna mi yeye.”
Translation: “He poked me in the eye.”

Sources: Compiled by X. Murphy & Simrete McLean from personal experience as Jamaicans. Special acknowlegements to Miss M. Daley and Miss A. Gentiles. Books – “How to Speak Jamaican”. Various documents from the The Institute of Jamaica and the Jamaican National Library.

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Dulcimer "Peaches" Robothom