A Special Message in Patwa

A good friend of mine is heading off to a new adventure in her personal and professional career back in the states. I was asked to make a quick video in honor of the occasion and thought it might be a good time to showcase some of the language skills I have learned during my time here in Jamaica. Please note I don’t claim proficiency nor do I speak like this everyday, though I wish I could. A special thanks goes out to my colleagues at the community center who made this a fun staff project. They helped me translate the words and coached me through how to say everything (in particular, with the right attitude). Hope this gives you a sense of the language from a foreigner’s perspective. Check out the video below to hear what it really should sound like.

One of the most frequent things we get asked about Jamaica is the language. Let’s be clear here, the official language of Jamaica is English, however Patwa/Patois is what most people use on a daily basis. Unfortunately Patwa is not formally recognized. It’s a controversial topic here with many believing patwa is an integral part of Jamaican identity and culture. Others see it as a made-up language that prohibits education and Jamaica’s progression. I’ll be honest and tell you that it’s complicated to understand but I love it. It reminds me a lot of Hawaiian Pidgin. There’s also an amazing vibe of how you speak it which is more important then just knowing vocabulary. You can easily separate the tourist from the ex-pats and the returned residents from nationals just by listening to how they “Waagwan?” (meaning, what’s going on).

Regardless of any argument, Patwa/Patois won’t go away any time soon and that’s ok with me. It’s just another wonderful reason what makes Jamaica unique and special. You Z Mi (You see me).

Patois transcribed. Please note there is no official spelling. This is what my staff gave me to write. 
Yo mi gurl! Waa gwaan?
Yuh gud?
Sarry mi cahn chill wid unu tiday eno, mi deh ya inna cole snowy Jamayka.
A joke mi a mek man, a beautiful sunny Jamyka dis!
Melissa, mi jus wa mek yuh knoe, seh mi rate yuh eno!
U a di boss man, yuh a real fren! Mi swear.
Mi know PSU ago miss yuh energy and passion, you z mi.
But a jus soh life guh yah?
Wi lucky fi even knoe u eno, fi real man.
Mi wish you all di bes stil, inna u new job.
Hope we cah link up soon.
Mad up yuh ting.
Happy earth strong!
Nuff nuff love!


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