If you are planning a trip you need to know the language. If you are going to Jamaica, you don’t have to worry as they speak English don’t they? Read our guide for more facts and information.
The answer to the above question is yes, Jamaicans speak English. However, they are bilingual in that Jamaicans use slang phrases created from a mixture of English, African languages and possibly the language of the Arawaks, the natives that were in the area when Christopher Columbus first came.
Understanding Jamaican Slang
If you go to Jamaica without some knowledge of the slang, it will be just as difficult trying to communicate to a Jamaican as trying to speak Chinese to a person from China. That is unless the person you are talking to wants to speak English. Still, it might not be a bad idea to learn a little slang and a few of the phrases. You don’t really need to know too many sentences, as most of the slang is used in short phrases.
How you learn Jamaican Slang
There are several good Jamaican and Reggae- Rasta dictionaries that can teach the slang words and phrases to you. You can purchase CD’s that will help give you more of an idea of how the words are pronounced. Between these two, you may be able to converse somewhat in Jamaican slang and actually understand what is being said. There are also sites on the internet that will help you with this. It is important not only to know the meaning of words, but to know dialect or you will be back to square one as far as understanding goes.
Whether you are actually going to Jamaica or not, learning some of the Jamaican or reggae slang could be useful, especially if you enjoy Reggae music or plan to go to New York City where there is a large Jamaican population. There are also Jamaican restaurants popping up in many good sized American cities, so the slang may come in very handy. You won’t have to rely on the waiter to tell you exactly what some dish is, you will be able to tell for yourself. Be certain if you are going to try to converse in Jamaican slang that you use it correctly, or you may end up getting something you really don’t want.
Know the Situation
Know whether you and the waiter or the other person is speaking in the same language. This could really save some embarrassment to you. Think of being in a restaurant and ordering a Bud (Budweiser) and a biscuit. The waiter scratches his head, but comes back in a few minutes with a bird (bud) and a pretty girl (biscuit). Maybe not so bad, but it could get sticky with the confusion of other words.