Jamaican language

The Jamaican language is referred to as Patois to the local population and although the word ‘patois’ is French, Jamaican Patois is mainly a mixture of English words, words of African origin and words from numerous other languages.

Patois is not only spoken in Jamaica, it is spoken on other islands and in other countries. This is due in part to the migration of Jamaicans. However, as stated, Patois also exists and is spoken in other parts of the Caribbean and the world. It is interesting to note that Jamaican Patois and some of the Krio languages in Africa share similarities. There are words in African Krio which mean exactly the same thing as they do in Jamaican Patois. One such word is “chaka chaka” which means untidy in African Krio and it also means the same thing in Jamaican Patois.

Another foreign language word in Jamaican patois is the word “chaparrita.” In Jamaican Patois the word “chaparrita” means “wrist bracelet” but the same word means “petite woman or girl” in Spanish. Note, that there are many foreign language words in the Jamaican language but these were just a couple examples.

Jamaican Patois shares some similarities, in terms of pronunciation and vocabulary, with the English spoken in Britain, Indeed Jamaican Patois has incorporated some British words into the dialect. For example, words such as “bonnet, and plat” are often used in Jamaica. Bonnet refers to the hood of a car and plat means to twist or braid ones hair. The fact that many British words exist in the Jamaican language should not be a surprise because Jamaica gained its Independence from Britain in the 1962.

The Jamaica language is diverse. Even within Jamaica the language is diverse. By traveling from one end of the island to the other end of the island, a keen observer would notice that there are different Patois accents. Among different groups within the country the language varies. English is the official language of Jamaica and it can most often heard in school classrooms, in places of government, on Jamaican news reports and on television and in business.