Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jamaican Slang and Caribbean Proverbs

The West Indians have always been lyrical and laconic. And they have a lovely turn of phrase, using things that surround them to near poetic effect, even when they are cussing you out. For a bit of fun we have collected some well known West Indian expressions, proverbs and sayings. Some even make into calypsos. One which did is –

"The higher the monkey climb, the more he expose..." (or ‘the more ‘e show ‘e tail’ in Barbados)

The more you show off, the more your faults are visible to those around you, or the more successful you become, the more you are under scrutiny. But, in Jamaica -

"Monkey know which tree to climb."

The ambitious person knows where to apply their energy. And while on the subject of animals -

"Evah pig got a Saturday."

Everyone will pay for his deeds at some point. And -

"Horse dead and cow fat..." In a long story it is used in the sense of ‘and so on and so forth’.

And then you add

"...and donkey maugre."

For islanders there is particular significance in -

"De sea ain't got nuh back door."

The sea is not a safe place so you need to take precautions. And the Jamaicans again -

"Dem go together like batty and bench."

Two peas in a pod. It seems that crows get bad press in the Caribbean. The Trinidadians will have it that if -

"Corbeau pee on yuh"

Nothing will go right, you have a hex working on you. The Jamaicans call crows ‘John Crows’ and delight in referring to moonshine rum, distilled but completely un-aged and un-mellow, as -

"John Crow Batty"

"Well, Cheese on Bread!"

(Barbadian amazement!)

1 comment:

  1. There are so many Jamaican provers that I like. One of my favourites - "wen chuble tek yuh, pickney shut fit yuh!"


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