Thanks to a vibrant dancehall culture, the Jamaican language is seasoned periodically with memorable slangs that reflect the ever evolving cultural dynamics. From a news clip gone wrong to the catchy lyrics of a song, we certainly have a knack for incorporating slangs into everyday conversations. Check out these 10 slangs Jamaicans were using in 2014.
- Tun up – (Di ting tun up loud, me nah lie.) This is really great!
A carry over from previous years, tun up is a form of thumbs up, signaling approval of something that looks or seems exceptionally good.
- Bun up – (Bun up dat!) Burn that up!
My teenage son swears that this is one of the hottest phrases right now and apparently has replaced the long running ‘fyah bun’ to express strong disapproval.
- Ting shat – (Di ting shat!) It’s excellent!
Another expression to convey approval of someone or something.
- Tan deh deh –(Tan deh deh think say me a come ova.) Stay there.
This one has been going for about three years and is still very popular,
- Dead – (Me a dead wid laugh.) I’m dying with laughter.
Abbreviated from ‘deaddin’ made popular during the 2010 Tivoli Gardens incursion
- Touch – NSFW!
sexual innuendo popularized by dancehall artistes to ensure their songs don’t get banned from the airwaves.
- Work me a work anuh chicken me a jerk
Someone serious about the task at hand; implying this activity is not a hobby, it’s about making money.
- Cyaa deal – I can’t bother.
Used jokingly in reference to a situation that seems ridiculous.
- Inna real life?
Like seriously? Did this really happen? Did I just hear what I think you said?
- Gud gud bring life
These are actually the words of a song in reference to the female genitals and purports to celebrate women who have given birth. Early in the years, a male vendor in downtown Kingston tackled me with this “serious question” after a prolonged absence from the island. “Yuh gud gud bring life?” He asked, repeating the question three times in what I considered a threatening manner. Traumatized for days, I thought I had been openly propositioned for a sex act in the middle of the street. Some weeks later, I heard the song playing.
About the Author
Denise Clarke is a freelance journalist based in Kingston, Jamaica. She has written for print and online newspapers in Jamaica, Barbados, and the British Virgin Islands. Email her with feedback at [email protected].