Learning Jamaican Slang

Slang is a big part of any language. More often than not, slang terms are a part of just about every conversation. In English, I’m gonna’ means “I am going to.” If you’ve grown up in American culture, you already know that.

But if you’re new to other languages, such as Jamaican Patois, learning Jamaican slang does not come quite so easily. However, that does not mean it has to be impossible. According to experts, many Jamaican slang sayings disappeared for a long time and are being resurrected by today’s youth.
The term, chill, has been around for decades now, but what many people don’t know is that it was born out of Jamaican slang. Happening is another example. Happening in English means that something is in fashion. The term has its roots in Jamaican Patois. If you wanted to say that your shirt was in style you may say “Ma marina a inna pattan.” Pattan is the Jamaican term for fashion. Marina means shirt.

As you have probably already guessed, learning how to talk Jamaican is not a quick process, because Jamaican slang terms are copious. Jamaican Patois is musical, because it has been blended from several different languages. This creates a sort of sing song effect when it is spoken.
When speaking Jamaican, it is important to note that curse words also factor into the mix. Some Jamaican curse words tend to sound very similar to English words that have negative connotations. So be careful. Do your research, and make sure you know what you’re saying before you say it.

Jamaican slang for the kid is “yuth.” Bandulu is another Jamaican slang word. It means some type of fraud. Yuth is quite similar to youth, as said in standard English.

Bandulu, on the other hand, is not as straightforward. That is why it’s so important to study Jamaican sayings. If you say the wrong thing, it may have a totally different meaning. So be sure to study Jamaican slang, so you don’t have any blunders.

You often hear the term bling-bling in American society. This is a Jamaican slang term. It means that something is fancy or that a person is showing off.

Do not get discouraged, you can learn Jamaican slang and patois. You just need a basic knowledge of Jamaican patwa (patois). Many Jamaican slang terms are quite simple. Take Zeen, for example. Zeen means “understand” or “you got it”, and it can be used in any number of combinations, and is often used to end a sentence.

Many of these terms come out of Rastafari —a way of life that is well ingrained into the Jamaican culture. The Dancehall movement is also responsible for many of the Jamaican slang words. If you can listen to considerable amounts of reggae and dancehall, you will be making tremendous strides in learning Jamaican Slangs. Remember to stay current with the music so you can get the new slangs.