Foreigners learning Patwa

I’m a 23 year old black male in Miami. There’s a big population of Jamaicans here. Would Jamaicans get offended if I wanted to learn Patwa? Always been interested

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If you do too much, yes. Don’t forget to listen to the music, eat the food, and learn the history. Do not be insulting by butchering and overusing common phrases to Jamaicans, as it gets irritating and/or you won’t be taken seriously.

TLDR; Take in the culture and also know when to tone it down.

And one more thing, don’t stress it. This sort of advice goes for just about any language out there.


You can, most non-Americanised Jamaicans wouldn’t find it offensive. Just take your time and don’t rush it, you’ll sound like a fool. Take in the language and culture slowly, be curious and ask questions and try not to overdo it immediately. As you learn, you can drop in a patois word here and there, to avoid being cringy don’t try constructing full patois sentences within the first month of trying. Just take it slow and REALLY LEARN, not imitate or make a mockery, that’s what would be offensive


Doubt anyone would be offended. It’s a good way to connect with the Jamaicans there. Patwa is a colourful, beautiful dialect. Listen to Louise Bennett “Miss Lou”, chat wid di people dem inna yuh community, etc. What can be offensive though is how you use it. Don’t go around saying “bumb******” to everybody :)


Just switch back and forth when it feels natural. You don’t need to speak patois all the time. Patois is perfect when you’re joking or insulting someone, or if you’re expressing emotion. But do you need to speak patois for every interaction? Probably not.

Do you have Jamaican family in the US? Just hang with them and you’ll pick it up easy enough


Spend some time in Jamaica. It’s fairly inexpensive and very rewarding if you don’t go to the high walled all inclusive resorts. Best way to pick up on common Jamaican phrases and such is to go hangout at a local rum bar and listen.

I also live in Miami - if you want to find Jamaicans, get a bicycle and head up to broward county and hit up some big wheel group rides. Afterward you can hear many many Jamaican breaking each others balls. It’s hilarious.


No,honestly most of us love teaching it ,BUT for the love of God ask one person and no more to teach you….you can’t let a kingstonian, st Catherine and montegobay teach you that’s like learning Spanish French and German all at once

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