Are you traveling to Jamaica soon and would like nothing more than to get off the beaten tourist track to immerse yourself in more authentic experiences? Well, if that’s the case, take note of the following Jamaican proverbs so you can impress the locals with some ‘yaad-approved’ jargon.
Saying: One one cocoa full basket.
Translation: One cocoa at a time fills the basket.
Meaning: Every little bit adds up. Be patient, sometimes growth and/or success takes time.
Saying: De higha monkey climb de more him expose.
Translation: The higher a monkey climbs, the more he is exposed.
Meaning: Increased success leads to greater scrutiny and criticism.
Saying: Fire deh a mus-mus tail him tink a cool breeze.
Translation: Fire is by a rat’s tail and he thinks he’s feeling a cool breeze.
Meaning: Trouble is brewing and you’re unaware of it.
Saying: Give him an inch, him tek a mile.
Translation: Give someone an inch, he takes a whole mile.
Meaning: A person who demands additional courtesies even when the kindness that’s already been extended has been very generous.
Saying: Wha’ sweet nanny goat a go run him belly.
Translation: The thing that a female goat might find appetizing might also give her the runs.
Meaning: You can have too much of a good thing. Do not overindulge in things that could be harmful.
Saying: Wanti wanti cyaan get it, and get it get it no want it.
Translation: Those who want something really badly can’t get it, yet others who get don’t want similar things get it easily.
Meaning: Count your blessings and don’t take what you have for granted.
Saying: Cockroach no business inna fowl fight.
Translation: A cockroach has no place in a chicken fight.
Meaning: Don’t interfere in things that don’t concern you.
Saying: Dawg nyam yuh supper.
Translation: The dog ate your supper.
Meaning: You have lost your opportunity.
Saying: Trouble tek yuh, pickney shut fit yuh.
Translation: When trouble you are in trouble, even a child’s shirt will fit you.
Meaning: When faced with a bad situation, people will make any adjustments necessary to get out of it.
Saying: Rock stone ah river bottom cyaan feel sun hot.
Translation: A stone at the bottom of a river cannot feel the heat from the sun.
Meaning: Those who have an easy life cannot appreciate the difficulties others face.
Saying: Chicken merry, hawk de near.
Translation: The chicken is happy, but the hawk is nearby.
Meaning: Trouble is brewing while you’re having fun.
There you have it! Now you’re ready for a real Jamaican flex (hang out).