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Jamaican patois

I'd love a course on Jamaican patois! I listen to reggae & dancehall music a lot and I'd love to be able to speak and understand it better.

June 29, 2012



I would LOVE to see a Jamaican Patois course. I feel like it would take only a month to complete, as the grammar is much more simple, and so is everything about it. I would really love this language :D (I said language and not dialect, because as an English speaker, I can't understand it at all, plus the written isn't intelligible to me. The difference is greater than the difference between Swedish and Norwegian, or Serbian and Macedonian, so i don't see why others don't consider it a separate language as well)


Jamaican creole is a bit problematic. For one, there's no one form of Jamaican creole. Instead, there is what is called a sociolect continuum, such that in the most formal speech, the grammar and pronunciation are very much like Standard British English, and on the other end of the scale you have the very rural, casual, working class grammar and pronunciation. But most people fall somewhere between the two extremes, and modify their speech depending on the situation. Usain Bolt hardly has any accent when doing interviews with international press, but can start to use more creole when talking casually with his compatriots. Now, how far would you take the creole on Duolingo? If you go all the way and teach the strongest rural creole, it would be like teaching people how to speak hillbilly.

It would be cool to have more resources for Jamaican creole, but apart from the lack of demand, I think this, as well as the lack of a standard writing system (do you write every word quasi-phonetically or only the purely Jamaican ones: guol or goal, pikni or pickney, type or taip), makes it unlikely to happen.


Exactly.. There is no standard for our language. It constantly changes, new words pop up literally every few months, and it is spoken differently all over the island, however we can all understand each other. I cringe whenever Americans try to speak patois to me XD.


All the more reason to want a Jamaican patois Duolingo or discussion group or something. At least then Americans like me, who want to actually see the sights and meet the people and not hide in their resort or stick to the tourist trap trail (though I'm not averse to a few well chosen tourist traps once in a while) can exchange basic information and pleasantries in a way that hopefully sounds a bit more natural and is less cringeworthy.


There is a standard spelling, the Patwa Nyuu Testament Pellin, But nobody really uses it except educated Patwa enthusiasts. But I'll bet that if I had your average churchgoing Jamaican read the Jumiekan Patwa Nyuu Testament, the Belize Kriol New Testament, and the Gullah Nyew Testament, they would favor reading the New Testament in those related Languages over The Jumiekan Nyuu Testament because those versions use spellings closer to what people know from written English. Norwegian has the same problem. One language influenced by former colonizer Danish, and a more purely Norwegian form that few Norwegians can read fluently. Too many reggae singer whe neva gone a JA a try fe form patois. Fake it till you make it. With a Duolingo course every single foreign reggae singer in the world would be obligated to complete it, so the butchery of authentic patois will be no more.r


I see what you mean, I have Jamaican friends, I did actually ask them and they told me they all already "know" how to write certain words, so there is sort of a standard, slang is invented almost monthly, or even weekly though (even in standard American English, like "it's brick" means it's cold). I know there is no official script or anything, but they all write "me guh" and not "meh gouh", "nuh badda mi"= (it) doesn't bother me, most people write in this "standard", if that makes sense, especially people who use the internet to communicate with their friends.


Cool, I bet you don't know what "I'm bricking it" means in British slang :P


No I don't, I'm from New York, lol, what's it mean?


It means you're really scared or worried about something. I think it means that you're crapping your pants, because "lay a brick" can mean doing a number 2.

Eg. I've got a job interview coming up, I'm absolutely brickin it.

Language is so fun :D


Back in the late 90s my friends and I used the term, "I'm $hitting bricks" and it meant very scared, like crapping our pants. lol


I will help you my friend


Jamaican patois is a language, not just a creole. It is much simpler than English language in grammar and comprises a lot of other language forms. It is very diverse but once you get the basics down, it should not be too difficult. New words are added almost everyday but there are no rules that bound you when you express yourself in speech as long as you are understood and understand others.The hardest part is learning the expression and knowing the context in which to use a particular word or phrase. It is more fun learning by listening and visually watching the expressions but it can be read, written and understood with practice.

I am Jamaican so I should know. There are just some things that only patois can capture for us. It is a separate language not just some mispronounced words or "gibberish" as some loves to degrade it to simply because of their lack of understanding.

Here are a few brief samples:

Jamaican Patois: Yow, mi cyan believe seh di bwoy duh mi dat. Jah know star, mi bex.

Translated: Hey! [Very expressive indicating surprise] I cannot believe the boy did that to me. God knows [Very expressive, denoting continued disbelief], I am vex/upset.

Jamaican Patois: Mi seh dah bwoy deh nuh gud, im ah ginnal. Bout im wah tek man fi eediat.

Translated: I am telling you that boy is not good; he is a trickster. He wants to take me for an idiot. [Most times, Jamaican slangs would be included to denote disrespect]

Jamaica Patois: Gyal, ah yuh mi love, nuh mek nuh badi tell yuh bout mi aguh gi yuh bun. Yuh dun know mi ah yuh wukkaman ah ready. Nuh tek chat from badmind.

Translated: Girl, I love you; do not let anyone tell you that I am going to cheat on you. You already know that I am your skilful lover. Do not listen to jealous people. [Said with much sincerity and charm to convince his lover that he is being truthful]

These are just typical verbiage used in the daily Jamaican exchange but not all Jamaicans speak patois. Some by choice, others were just not taught. While English is the official language, to successfully live a culturally rich Jamaican lifestyle, learning the Jamaica patois is essential as a lot more Jamaicans speak this language in relaxed, familiar settings, and not conforming may result in the feeling of being an outsider. Most persons, if not too busy, are willing to teach the language so be patient, it takes time. Speak slowly until you have mastered, then you can talk at the rapid fire pace like a typical Jamaican. The accent is easy to attain but the expression may take some time. You have to feel, taste and experience the language, not just speak it.

All the best. Nuff love!


Yes, I'd love a course on Patois!


It would be easy to teach words and understand but not so easy to learn to speak. You can say a few things that mean the same thing. Also, different Caribbean Islands use different slang, meaning islands near each speak similarly, for example Trinidad and Tobago speaks differently than Jamaica. It wouldn't be useful to only learn what's spoken in Jamaica too. Overall I would be willing to contribute to the course one day, but it probably wouldn't make much sense creating one. I know because I was born in Trinidad and Tobago.


There is a Jamaican New Testament (written and audio) that I am using to study the language and it is helpful. It's my understanding that when this was written, the translators visited all regions of the island to see what parts of the language were most common and the translation was based on these. There are local dialects, but the printed language became what was most universally recognized across the island. When I try to communicate with my Jamaican friends in their "heart language" rather than their "official language" it means so much to them, which is why I want to learn it. It is a validation for them and their culture. I very much hope to see Duolingo develop a Jamaican language course.


I think Jamaican should be a language in Duolingo. Anybody else?


Voy a probarlo a ver...

[deactivated user]


    I am Jamaican and my dad never has time to teach me. So,I would love to be able to lean Jamaican Patois.


    I hope you get to learn your Jamaica patois because it is our language and we should keep it alive by passing it down to the future generations as our fore-parents have done. It is to be embraced with pride and speak it freely and enjoy the vibrations. This is so rich and embodied our "Out of Many One People".

    Nuh seh nuttin jus keep di faith enuh. Betta muss cum waan day. Don't let it bother you too much; stay faithful/hopeful. Better will come one day.

    Walk good mi fambily. Irie!


    I want to learn it


    I was just in both Jamaica & Haiti in Nov 2017 & my guide tried to teach us patois, but I was only there for 1 day, so I forgot everything. If I would have had this course, I would have tried to use the language more I'm glad that Haitian Creole is in the incubator right now, but I missed that opportunity as well



    Please if you want to learn patois, I will help you people but the problem is, I don't have support


    Someone put it in to be reviewed so we may see it in the incubator soon


    That's a great Idea....Why don't they do that?


    Ran into this youtube channel called Chat Patwah that has the best lessons for Jamaican Patois I've seen on the internet...give it a shot.


    I d love to have it here


    I am very interested in wanting to learn Jamaican Patois. I have a Jamaican friend and I want to visit Jamaica and being able to speak it would be great. My friend teaches me a few things here and there but I would love to just sit and have a full conversation with him on a regular basis. I saw Klingon on Duolingo and if I am not mistaken, isn't that from star trek? That's not even real. At least real humans are speaking Jamaican Patois.


    I have been thinking about this for a few weeks now! And when I went hunting I found the same thing! Klingon and apparently another fictional language that is from Game of Thrones? (Not sure, I had to ask my friend about the latter.) I am super bummed. I enjoy every time I visit and I love languages. I always wish I could speak some but no app method comes close to the level of Duolingo.


    I would love this. I follow Jamaican Sinting on YouTube and I use the Jamaican patwah app and jamaicanize.com to help me, but having an duolingo-type course would help quite a bit! If anyone else has any suggestions (apart from speaking with Jamaicans, which I also (try to) do) please let me know!


    I have video lessons on YouTube: Chat Patwah, everyone seems to like...and I’m putting up courses on decks.memrise.com as we speak. Plus I respond to all my comments...give it a try.


    I'm pretty sure I just subscribed to your channel a couple weeks ago. Been through the first lesson and a bit of the second so far. It's wonderful.


    Thanks for the feedback...trying to make it as easy and user friendly as possible so send me critique too!


    I will let you know as I go through. I am also using a book simultaneously but it lacks things here and there. You break things down slowly when you introduce them and that's very helpful. I've been to Jamaica a few times now and am going again in October and I would absolutely love to talk just a bit. I look forward to what you're doing on Memrise!


    Thanks...working on videos now that will show you how to piece together what you learned to converse comfortably, with no need to memorize. Memrise also is giving me more flexibility and it feels like a game. We’re getting there


    Thank you! I will check them out!!


    OMG YESSSSSS!!!! I'm giving a lingot!!


    If you like Jamaican Hip-Hop music, you should totally listen to Toast, by Koffee. It's such a great song about being grateful!


    I really love this idea! being half jamaican, it would mean a lot if i could understand more of my culture and it would be a lot easier if i could speak the patois language!


    but nobody uploads it


    Mi kno ou fi taak bout di lingua mi breda, suh eff yuh waah fi kno eyal link up wid I mon. Give thanks

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