Jamaican Patois

Jamaica Patois is the phrase used to describe the everyday dialect that is spoken in Jamaica. The word “Patois” can also be written as “Patwa.” Jamaican Patois is mostly a spoken dialect.

The official language of Jamaica is English or more specifically Standard English. You will often hear Standard English being spoken on Jamaican television or on the radio, or in classrooms or in business meetings across the island. Furthermore, English is taught in Jamaican schools, universities, and English is most frequently used in formal occasions and when conducting official business. However, the local dialect is what you’ll most often hear being spoken among friends, on the streets of Jamaica and in informal situations. You will also find that the dialect is used quite often in popular Jamaican music.

In the past, Patois was rarely written down and the only places to find it written were in a few books, short stories or poems. However, nowadays the internet has changed things. The Jamaican language is being written much more frequently.

The word “Patois” comes from a French word but ironically Jamaican Patois is made up of mostly English and African words. Of course there are other languages which have contributed “loanwords” but English and African languages make up the majority of the language. Loanwords are words which have been borrowed from another language.

Jamaican Patwa is a dialect which evolves and changes. New words are continually being added to the dialect while some words which were once popular are now seldomly used. Some words fade out while others continue to be used often. Each year many new expression come into existence and others are coined in Jamaica. However, only the most popularly used Patois words and phrases stand the test of time.