Speak JA

10 Words That Some Jamaican Either add or drop the “h”s

The Jamaican language is an intriguing part of our culture. The nuances and accents change from one end of the island to the other sometimes baffling foreigners and even our own countrymen. We make up words, add letters to some and shorten others to fit the colorful stories we love to tell. Unfortunately the letter ‘H’ is often the victim of this language customization. Here are 10 examples where the ‘H’ has been killed off, or mysteriously appeared in the vernacular.

1. “H’emphasise (Emphasize) – “Im h’empasize di word so me know say ‘im serious.”
English translation: He emphasized the word so I knew that he was serious.

2. H’ignorant  (Ignorant) – “Me cyaa talk to you. You too h’ignorant!”
English translation: I can’t talk to you. You’re too ignorant.

3. ‘Ate (Hate) – “Im ‘ate fe gi people h’anyting.
English translation: He hates to give people anything.

4. I h’am (I Am) – “I h’am the best dancer di worl’ eva see.”
English translation: I am the best dancer the world has ever seen.

5.H’often (Often) – “Me see ‘im pass ‘ere so very h’often.”
English Translation: I see him pass by here very often.

6. H’ackee – (ackee) – “Me jus’ done pick some h’ackee fi go cook.”
English translation: I just picked some ackee to cook.

7.  H’andastan (Understand) – “Me neva h’andastan a word weh ‘im say.”
English translation: I did not understand a word he said.

8. ‘Abit (Habit) – “Im ‘av a ‘abit a come call me all di while.”         
English translation: He has a habit of calling me all the time.

9.  ‘Arder (Harder) – “Di ‘arder me work di less pay me get.”
English translation: The harder I work the less pay I get.

10.  ‘Opeless (Hopeless) – “Bwoy you case soun’ opeless.”
English translation: Boy, your case sounds hopeless.

It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see that practically any ‘H’ word is fair game. From him, to help, to house, to here, it if has an ‘H’ it will be taken away and loaned to another word in dire need of an ‘H’ as far as the speaker is concerned. But this ability to adapt the Jamaican language is part of what makes it so interesting.

About the author

Denise Clarke