Speak JA

Jamaica‘s New Lingos

I am a proud citizen of this wonderful island nestled among the turquoise sea and the distant land of Cuba. Well, we are a bit close to Cuba, not really on its outskirt; check your map for reference. Well let me not stray from the topic my dear readers, back to the point I was trying to make. For starters, Jamaica has a wonderful brogue, interesting sayings and Jamaicans also have this uncanny way of making a trail of words seem effortlessly cool and a bit outlandish. Yes we are the “hub” for vibrant expressions and a plethora of other phrases. Mark you, several words have evolved drastically and there is this revolution for self expression that I had never seen before. Personally I think that this change is for our generation and that the new generation will create a different way of communicating in informal settings. This is obviously a natural occurrence. Don’t you remember how “old time people spoke”? I’m sure you get my point.

So recently, I was in the company of a few precocious teens. And as usual they rant about the usual- phones, dogs (people) and the latest tunes by alkaline. The way they spoke definitely inspired this article. So let’s start off with the word “dog” since I had previously mentioned it. Interestingly, the word “dog” at present is being used in a different way. This “lingo” is relatively old, but you can count on a Jamaican to give it a certain flair and reinvention. Certainly, I know of persons, saying, “what’s up dog?” or “my dog.” But never in the way that I am about to explain.

I have heard on countless occasions, young men saying “the dog did this “or “the dog did that.” For example: “The dog soon forward cause him jus text mi,” or “di dog soon leave him yaad,” or “di dog ago link me tomorrow.” Here we see a bit of advancement to how the lingo is being used. That is because the word dog is being used in compete sentences. This is indeed a different take on the word.

Next on the list is “More time.” Certainly, “most time” has been replaced by “more time”. Its history is one that I do not know. Sometimes I would be having an intelligent conversation with someone and “more time” runs out of their mouth for living air. I would stare at them and really wonder if they had noticed the grammatical error. No dear readers, they must have known right?

Well, the third lingo on this list is “why pree.” We can all thank “Vybz” for this invention, I think. His popular song “why pree” had definitely spawned this lingo. It is sometimes said with such anger though. I can’t recall the many instances young men stared angrily at their “starers” grunting “why pree?” Yes, you better look away or you better say “ nutten”. If it is said playfully though, you have nothing to worry about. It simply means “what’s up?” A smile is usually followed and maybe your conversations will drift to the leaves on your roof.

Another phrase being regularly used is “good up, good up”. This is used to describe a female’s body. This is when the body is “un pop down” or sexy. Yes my dears, this is a huge compliment.

“Tun up” is another word on the list. This word can also be used to refer to sexiness or a great party.

Finally the words, “slap weh” , “shot”, “shellingz” or “shell down” have definitely been popular alright. These words are used to describe parties .If the party was really good then, “it “slap weh” or “ it shot.” Jamaicans surely know how to lighten up conversations ; I am sure you would agree.

In Conclusion, it is evident that Jamaicans are really creative when it comes to creating new phrases. So should we celebrate the new additions to our already vibrant culture? Or should we encourage our Jamaican brothers and sisters to become more versed on the English language which is the language of commerce. Additionally, do you think that these words prevents us from learning and speaking proper English? What do you think?

About the author

Whitney Watts