People often ask ‘how do you say so and so in Jamaican Patois.’ They would be surprised to find out that although they may consider Jamaicans to be walking Jamaican dictionaries, even they sometimes don’t know what some terms and expressions mean. They too can be stumped when trying to give the Jamaican to English translation for certain Jamaican words. This should be of no surprise because for some (not all) expressions and words the meanings are elusive. It should also be noted that because Jamaican Patois has many of English words, many words and expressions are either very similar or exactly the same in Jamaican as they are in Standard English.
People often ask how would you say ‘I love you’ in Jamaican or ‘How do you count in Jamaican.’ Well the answer is you say it exactly the same in the Jamaican dialect as you would in Standard English. The differences are in the pronunciation and some of the vocabulary. Similarly, there are different words for terms of endearment (expressing closeness or relation), in Jamaican Patois which differ from those in Standard English.
There are not many dictionaries specializing in translating Standard English to its Jamaican equivalent. The dictionaries that do exist can usually be found online but you have to spend some time searching to find those. Likewise, there are books written specifically about translating Jamaican to Standard English and vice versa but they too are far and few in between. Therefore, learning ‘how to say things in Jamaica’ is usually left up to the individual. Furthermore, when trying to learn to speak a language for which there is not much source material the individual is more often than not left up to his or her own creativity, or resourcefulness, to acquire the necessary learning material for that particular language. As an aside note: one of the best ways to learn any language or dialect is to live in the country that speaks that language. Another good way to learn a language or dialect is to take courses. Other ways would include listening to music, watching movies and as mentioned previously, reading books written about the subject.
Whatever method is used to study Jamaican, it all boils down to the same things: time and dedication. Putting in the time and dedicating some time to uninterrupted study are necessary once you have the appropriate study material. Living in a foreign country where another language is spoken, automatically means that you’ll have to the spend time. You’ll also hear the language being spoken every day and if you interact with others then you’ll begin learning picking words and vocabulary. However, when your only means of studying is through music or books then it is imperative that you set aside the time and make the effort to study. Experts might suggest that repeating out loud and using audio material are the best ways of learning and reinforcing what you’ve learned.
People often ask ‘how do you say certain things in Jamaican Patois.’ The answer is not always clear cut. However, there are thousands of Jamaican words and phrases worth learning. Another important aspect of learning Jamaican would be learning the syntax of the dialect. Syntax, like so many other things, is best learned through exposure to the language and by continual practice and speaking. By practicing and incorporating some or all of these learning techniques you might be well on your way learning how to say things in Jamaican patois.