Your Jamaican Vacation

Know The Language

In Jamaica, the majority of the people speak Patois (pronounced Pat-wah) which is the native language, english is the language which is taught in schools but most Jamaicans prefer to, and is more comfortable speaking Patois.  You will feel a bit comfortable while on your Jamaican Vacation if you have a little understanding of the language.  Below is a group of popular words and phrases that you can start with.


“Wha a gwan?” is a very popular greeting in Jamaica, it means how are you? or what is going on?  This will most likely be the first Jamaican word that you will learn on your vacation.

“Weh yuh a go?” is also popular, this means where are you going? Be on the lookout for your taxi driver asking you this question and be confident in understanding what he or she is saying, and give an answer.

“Wah yuh want fi nahm” – you won’t really be asked this question at a Sandals or Beaches hotel, since the staff will speak to you in standard english, but if you were in the town at some local road side restaurant this is one of the question that you will most likely be asked.  This phrase means: What would you like to eat!

Some of the most popular questions people ask me are how do you say thank you and please; well these words are used in Jamaica just how it is used in the english language, only with a little more flair and emphasis on the T in thank you, so a Jamaican will say thank you like “Tank Yu” without emphasizing the H and taking out the O out of You.   “Yuh ready?” means are you ready?  “Yuh done?” means are you done?  “Come yah” or “Come ova yah suh” means come here or come over here.

In Jamaica you have a lot of lingo that is build up everyday with the influence of dancehall music which is like a sub genre of reggae music.  It is a popular music in the clubs and most of the lyrics are in Jamaican Patios.  If you would like to get a full understanding of the language, I would recommend that you read How to speak Jamaican by Kevin Maxwell.  A link to the book is available if you would like to get it for your Jamaican Vacation.  This book has been educating visitors and would be Jamaicans all over the world as to how the real English should be spoken. 🙂

If you have any questions at all on speaking Jamaican, you can always ask by leaving a reply/question at the end of the page.  I will be more than happy to provide an answer for you.

2 thoughts on “Know The Language

  1. A. Marc

    Wha a gwan Jason?
    I like your website right here and the love and humor with which you invite us to your country. I knew of course a bit about Jamaican music, reggae and ragga dancehall but now I wanna know the place for myself. Well done my man!

    1. Jason Foster Post author

      I love your greeting. I am just about to add some more content and kinda give the site a updated feel. Thank you very much for your kind engagement. It will keep getting better.

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