Beyond Bob and Ganja: Jamaican Proverbs 101

Milk 11/09/2014

Jamaicans tend to speak in sayings or proverbs. If you ask your Jamaican friend for advice, you will often be given a sort of riddle. If you’re not familiar with the language and culture, it will not make any sense. Even our Jamaican-American friends and family find a way of speaking in analogies…it is just part of the culture. There is a lot to learn from the most simple of proverbs, if you’re willing to take the time and thought to dissect it. Here is a list of some that are popular in our circle of relatives. {This is our first segment, I’m sure there will be many more to come. Enjoy.}

Patois Phrase: “Wanti, wanti, cyan getti, getti, getti nuh want it.”

Translation: You want it and can’t get it. You get it and don’t want it.

English Meaning: Count your blessings and do not take what you have for granted, others may just be hoping they had what you have.

Patois Phrase:  “Mi a small fish. Mi nah tread ina deep wata.”

Translation: I am a small fish and don’t tread in deep water.

English Meaning: I know my limits.

Patois Phrase: “A nuh one time monkey wan wife.”

Translation: It is not only one time that a monkey wants a wife.

English Meaning: This isn’t the last time you’ll need a favor.

Patois Phrase: Yuh tink mi and you uh size?”

Translation: You think you and I are equals? (Generally said from adult to child)

English Meaning: You want to rethink starting something with me?

Patois Phrase:Mi nuh dash weh stick cah mi nuh done cross wata.”

Translation: I haven’t thrown out the stick because I am not done crossing the water.

English Meaning: Don’t forget your friends, you never know when you’ll need them.