Many persons view Jamaican proverbs as highly entertaining. Every society has proverbs. It is part of the way the society linguistically encapsulates gems of wisdom and caution. The truth is proverbs, Jamaican or otherwise, are chock full of wisdom and caution. In fact my mother used proverbs as a way of teaching, guiding and also admonishing. I felt powerless when faced with her arsenal of Jamaican proverbs. I knew I was being either guided or chided and most times I had no comeback line or strategy.
The beauty about proverbs too is that they have layers and shades of meaning. There is always a literal meaning … it means exactly what it says. The power of the Jamaican proverb, however, lies in that coded subtlety, where is says more than it says and means more that it means. You get me. It is high context communication and so sender, receiver and observer of the message, need to have some context for understanding, otherwise the meaning is lost.
So let’s look at our title proverb “Yie Kyaan Teck Meat Outs Creng Creng (alternate spelling Kreng Kreng). This proverb speaks about the need to work to achieve your goals, as wishing and hoping are not enough. So let’s operationalize the concepts … break it down. What is ‘Yie’? You got it… Jamaican Creole for ‘eye’. So far so good. Now we move to Creng Creng? Any guesses? No it’s not a musical instrument and not a snack. In the days before refrigerators were commonplace, families preserved meat by smoking it. The Creng Creng was a wire basket hung up in the ceiling of the outside kitchen and this is where the meat was placed for curing and storing. You simply cut off what you needed and left the rest in the Creng Creng
So you enter the kitchen, you see this lovely piece of pork, beef, goat meat or whatever, and you look at it lovingly, while salivating. You want it, you can taste it, but guess what? No amount of looking and salivating is going to bring the meat to you. You have to put in the work … of walk, sometimes near the fire, and climb on perhaps a chair, balancing while using a knife to cut off what you need. Your Yie alone, is not enough to teck di meat outa di Creng Creng.
So, if you want to achieve academically, you have to work, if you want to lose weight or muscle up, you have to work, if you want career advancement, you have to work, if you want to be at the top of your game you have to work. Why? Because ‘Yie Kyaan teck Meat outa Creng Creng’
About the Author
Joan Andrea Hutchinson is a Public Speaking Coach, Communications Specialist, Remedial Language Teacher, English Language Guru, Writer, Storyteller, Actress, Motivational Speaker and Teacher. She is also a producer and presenter for radio and TV. She has been writing poems and stories in the Jamaican Patois dialect for more than 20 years. Follow Joan online.
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