Jamaican Language.
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Jamaican Language and Grammar


The Jamaican language, Patios, is unique and fun to learn. It is also very funny when we hear visitors who come to the country trying to speak patio.

Now the first thing we should know is that Jamaicans speak using a wide range of languages and that is why if you visit the island and is to just blend in the local environment you may find it hard to understand one set of people while you can better understand another set. The two extremes however is the English language and then the other is Patio in the basolect form.

We will look firstly at the past tense. The past tense of majority of the verbs is used as the present tense, in Jamaican patois. An example of this is where one may give “The girl ran quickly.”, a translation to “Di gyal run faas.” Another example of this is where “I went to the beach.”, would be translated to “Mi go a di beach.”

Now to give a lesson on how we treat plural I will start by saying that unlike the English language we do not add the letter ‘s’ at the end of the word. What we do instead of adding ‘s’ is to add the word ‘dem’ behind the noun we want to pluralize. For example we would translate ‘the cats’ to ‘di cats dem’ or ‘the apples’ to ‘di apple dem’.

We even add the word ‘dem’ to words that refer to groups. For example the phrase ‘the people’ would still translate to ‘di people dem’. Patios in Jamaica is about emphasizing and that is what is done when we add ‘dem’ to plural words. To be conflicting we sometimes use the plural words when we mean the singular. This is done mostly if the object is small. So for example when we say ‘Di bees a bite mi’ it means ‘The bee is stinging me.’

Lastly I will look at the words ‘is’ and ‘are’. In the English language these words are used to express the state of a particular noun in a sentence. In patois this is omitted completely. Look at the following phrases and words to get a full understanding, ‘The ball is big.’, or ‘The girls are pretty.’ These would be translated to ‘Di ball big’ or ‘Di gyal dem pretty.’

This is the end of a short lesson and I hope that it have really taken you a step closer to better understanding patois and knowing how it works. Patois is a part of our culture and was never really looked at as a language until recently but t has a system just like every other language and can be learnt.

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