Speak JA

9 Phrases only a Jamaican would understand

Phrases only a Jamaican would understand

The moment you meet a Jamaican you will quickly discover that we are a passionate and expressive bunch, especially when we do so in the lovely Jamaican patois. The language is constantly attracting great interest from people craving a taste of our culture, but what is perhaps most intriguing about patois is the many sayings and expressions we use. At times, some of these phrases can be difficult to translate into English and an outsider may struggle to find meaning. Take a look at these 9 phrases that only a Jamaican would understand.

Other English speakers may hear this word and wonder why they’re being told to shut up but for Jamaicans, “hush” is an expression of empathy and/or sympathy. The word is useful in many different situations such as comforting someone who is sick or grieving, or empathizing with someone facing a problem at work.

Put clothes pon yuh argument
This is a new expression that’s a way of saying “mind what you’re saying” or “show some respect while speaking to me”.

Yuh salt bad!
When a Jamaican calls you “salt” it means that you’re very unlucky. The phrase is often used in reacting to a series of unfortunate events or when someone experiences a major disappointment.

Yuh seet!
This literally translates to “you see it” but is closer in meaning to “I see”. It’s used as a form of acknowledgment to show agreement with what is being said.


About the author

Denise Clarke