Jamaican Creole Language

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Jamaican Creole

Spoken in

Jamaica , Costa Rica , Panama
speaker 3.1 million
Official status
Official language in -
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2

cpe (other English-based Creole and Pidgin languages)

ISO 639-3


The Jamaican Creole, also known as Patois or Patwa (h), is a common Jamaican Creole language with English roots. It is also spoken in other Caribbean islands, Belize , Costa Rica , Panama and Guatemala, as well as by immigrants in the United States and many other countries. Other names are "Bongo Talk", "Southwestern Caribbean", "Creole English", "Afro-Jam" or "Quashie Talk".

The Jamaican Creole is the basis for many of the terms in the United States and Europe spread hip-hop - slang , reflecting the fact that the rapping in hip hop -music its origins in the Jamaican deejaying has.


Typical for patois are:

English Patois
The elimination of the ending of the English progressive form
I'm going. Mi a go.
Verbs can simply be negated with “not”
I don't go (" I don't go ") Mi nuh go ("I'm not going")
In personal pronouns, no distinction is made between subject and object
I have got nothing, but you shoot me down. Mi nuh 'ave nuttn, but yuh a shoot mi dung.
The '-s' at the end of verbs in the third person singular (he, she, it) is often dropped
As a man sows, shall he reap. As a man sow, him fi reap.

In addition, the language is strongly interspersed with the scion vowel a :

  • English to observe , Jamaican fi abserve , German "to observe"
  • English way , Jamaican weya , German "way"

The use of such scion vowels is fairly free, they may or may not be inserted. Sometimes they also form the joint between words in a sentence, as so-called discourse particles :

englisch They go home, jamaikanisch Dem a go ’ome, deutsch „Sie gehen nach Hause“


English Patois
The voiced 'th' is replaced with a 'd' and the unvoiced 'th' is pronounced like 't'
I think they see us. Mi tink dem see we
Optional omission of the H-sound at the beginning of a word
Have you seen the helicopter? 'yu did a see di' elicopter?
Optional addition of an H sound before a word that begins with a vowel
almighty. halmighty.
The typical English æ is pronounced as “straight” ɑː
have: hæv have: hɑːv
Some diphthongs are pronounced differently:
care: keəʳ / ker care: kɪəʳ

Particularly characteristic of the Patois are the palatal plosives ky (cy) / k‿j / [⁠ c ⁠] and gy / g‿j / [⁠ ɟ ⁠] , while derived from English, its phonological Status in the patois, however, owe it to African influences.


Jamaican Creole English German
a are, have be, have
bokkle bottle bottle
bud bird bird
bomboclaat, bomboclaath literally: ass cloth / toilet paper Toilet paper, as a swear phrase, equates with: This is for the ass, wipe your ass, shit
bloodclaat literally: blood cloth / sanitary napkin Monthly pad, as a strong expression it describes a conflict, disagreement or blasphemy
claat, clawt cloth a piece of cloth
(used in crude terms)
duppy Ghost ghost
eeh! yes! Yes!
eh-eh no! No!
fi to (in order to
gwaan going on, go on go (further), run (depending on the context)
z. B .: Wha gwaan? (What's going on?)
Jah, also Jah Jah God God
nah, nuh don't don't do, don't!
hookers nothing nothing, nobody
pon on on
Jamaican Creole engl. Explanation German
mi waan 'bruck out fi som' roots reggae tonight. waan: to want to , fi: to Tonight I want to go to “Roots Reggae”.
mi mek mi move my foot fi som 'reggae! mek: to make , fi: to I want to move my feet to reggae.
(more demanding than the latter)
Nah woman, nuh cry! nah: no, nuh, also: don't No Woman Do not Cry!


Most Jamaican reggae artists sing in Jamaican Creole. The pioneer was Bob Marley . In his song “Them Belly Full” (1975) he quoted two proverbs: “Rien a faal bot di doti tof” (The rain falls, but the earth is hard) and “Pat a bwail bot di fuud no nof” (The pot cooks, but the food is not enough). Since then, the use of Creole has spread among Jamaican musicians.

Many non-Jamaican reggae and dancehall musicians as well as drum and bass MCs now use an English based on the patois in their texts. Examples are Gentleman (German) or Snow (Canadian).

Works in patois

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Hubert Devonish: The national language of Jamaica . In: D + C Development and Cooperation , 2017, issue 11, p. 33; dandc.eu (PDF).