Examples of Jamaican English

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Mek mi tell unuh bout mi likkel bwoy; im luv kaan.
Let me tell you about my little boy; he loves corn.
//mek mi tel ʹʊnuː bɑʊt mi ʹlɪk
əl bwaɪ/ɪm lʊv kaːn//

The pronoun unuh is second person plural. As you know, in Standard English we do not have a seperate form for the second person singular and plural, we just have you.


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Yuh cyan have da kaan dere; a fi ar kaan dat.
You can’t have that corn; that’s her corn.
//ju kjaː hæv da kaːn deː/a fɪə kaːn dat//

The word fi is a possessive particle that goes with ar to form the possessive her. Notice the pronunciation of cyan = can, which is characteristic of this creole. The /j/ is inserted after /k/ and /g/ and before the vowel /a/. This occurs in many words such as car and girl.


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Weee, gwan mi fren.
Ohhh, go on my friend.
//we:ɪ/gwaːn mi fren/

Notice the simplification of the consonant cluster /nd/ to /n/ in friend. This kind of reduction is common.


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Ah, whey dem did deh?

Where did they go?
//aː/weɪ dem dɪd deɪ//

Notice the /d/ pronunciation of all instances where RP would have /ð/.


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Ah juss dung dehso dem ago.
They’re just going down there.
//a dʒʊs dʊŋ ʹdesoː dem əʹgoə//

Simplification of consonant cluster /st/ to /s/ in juss.


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Unuh, come if yah come.
Come if you’re going to come.
//ʹʊnoː/kɒm ɪf jaː kɒm//

In Standard English we would have going to come/you are coming but in Jamaican Patois they have the simple form come.


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Fallah mi gaa shap yah.
Follow me to the shop.
//ʹfala mi gaː ʃap/jaː//

Notice the verbal construction fall mi gaa. This could be translated into Standard English as follow me while I go.


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Yah go gimmie sumen.
Are you going to buy me something.
//ʹja goː ʹgɪmi ʹsʊm
ən//

There is a case here of assimilation of /v/ to /m/ due to the following /m/ in me. This is also found in many kinds of non-standard English.


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Ah weh yuh waan one melann bag juice?
What do you want a melon drink?
//aː/weɪ ju waː wɒn ʹmelɒn bag dʒuːs //

Simplification of the consonant cluster /nt/ in want.


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Naa, sah. A labsta juicceey patty mi wah.
I want a lobster pattie.
//naː sa/a ʹlaːbstə ʹdʒuːsi ʹpati mi waː//

Notice the order of mi wah and compare it with Standard English I want.


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Dem onli did ave cranberry wata.
They only had cranberry water.
// dem ʹoːnli dɪd av ʹkranberi ʹwɐtə//

The simple past in Standard English is had. Here it is did ave.


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Ehhh, gwan go buy mi one bag juice. 2 dollah.
Buy me a drink. Here’s 2 dollars.
//e:/gwan goː baɪ mi wɒn bag dʒuːs/tuː ʹdɒlɐ
//

In Standard English we would have the indefinite article before bag juice. In creole we have the form one. Notice that in this example and the one below dollah does not include the plural /z/ ending found in Standard English.


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Noo mahsa, two dollah too likkel bit.
No, man. Two dollars, that’s not enough.
//no:/ʹmaːsɐ tuː ʹdɒlɐ tuː ʹlɪkl bɪt//

The word mahsa comes from master.


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Ahh gyal, yuh tink seh mi a ramp wid yuh?
Girl, do you think I’m messing around with you?
//e: gjaːl/ju tɪŋk seɪ mi ə ramp wid juː//

Once more we see a /g/ followed by /j/. The pronunciation of th as /t/ in tink might be due to Irish influence. Notice seh which can be translated as the conjunction that. 


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Yuh galang, man!
Go away, man!
//juː gaʹlaŋ/manː//

Although the girl who is talking is addressing another girl, she uses man. This is common in many kinds of non-standard English.


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