#learn-patois · 1 year ago

Is Jamaican Patois Wikipedia legit?

https://jam.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mien_Piej The Scots wikipedia turned out to be filled with English put in a Scottish accent, so I wondered how real the content of the Jamaican Patois one is?


True, but it’s a barrier to entry seeing as this isn’t taught in schools, and most Jamaicans at a glance wont easily understand what “Wi ha nof difrens frah Kinston dayalek” means. Although, I suppose no one knows everything from birth, so it can be learned over time and integrated into society/the curriculum.


Like, what is the point of “rait” if we didn’t change the word “write” at all, it’s the exact same English word we’re saying with the same sound, why change up the spelling? So that now it can be confused for rhyming with bait and gait? If we’re trying to use all phonetic spelling then I’d rather see them using the diacritics and umlauts and stuff like the dictionaries do and not rearrange English words to pretend we’re not using any. rīt


That’s a question best addressed to the Guyanese gentleman who’s been working to introduce the standard orthography, based on the speech of Kingston.

He’d probably tell you three things:

(1) The Cassidy orthography make it clear that Patwa (Jamiekan if you’re Devonish, Jumeikan if you’re Larry Chang) is a distinct language. It’s designed to make the achievement of literacy by the mass of Jamaicans. To say “a fi wi langgwij” is closer to what Jamaicans speak than “it’s our language” or in the traditional make-it-look-like-English approach “a fe we language.”

(2) It’s easy for kids to learn.

(3) If you want all Jamaicans to have equal access to public services, a standardized orthography makes it easier to direct requests &c to the institutions of state. That is, to give Patwa the same official status as English.

Now, I have my own concerns, mostly about the question of which dialect(s) to use as the basis of the orthography. Devonish et al base it on the mesolectic speech of Kingston, Chang agrees with them on most points.

My own preference would have been to base it on the basilectic speech of rural western Jamaica. To take a word not quite at random Devonish gives us “aati” for “hearty” where I would have “haati” because that’s how the word is pronounced in rural Sint Ilizibet. Dem fi lau mi.


“Mi a go meet dem a di beach tmr. Den mi go meet yuh fi lunch”.

Simple sentences like this can be easily written and understood in patois, but for more complex sentences (Like this one), they’d most likely be written in English. In fact, if you tried to write this sentence in Jamaican patois, it’d come off really weird.


As the other commenter said it would probably be simpler to just write that in English; except you might replace the basic foundational words, like the prepositions and pronouns, them = dem, at = a, the = di, for = fi

So me personally if I was committed to typing it so it sounds like I might say it, would do

Me’ll meet dem a di beach tomorrow den me’ll meet u fi lunch

Other ppl might use “Mi a go” for “I am going to” rather than that “I will” in that context

Words like beach, tomorrow and lunch are not going to have alternate patois words


I see absolutely no reason to misspell meet, beach, lunch etc if we’re not changing the word or its pronunciation at all. It’s not even like it’s the phonetic spelling like the dictionary uses to let you know pronunciation. It’s just difference to be different. “ii” does not show how that syllable is pronounced any more clearly than “ee”. And the day after this is not even pronounced ta-ma-ro by any patois speaker, nor does lunch have an “on” sound

But even if you were perfectly adhering to Fred Cassidy’s wishes, I think to OP’s question of what you write in a text to somebody, I guarantee not a soul would actually text that to another person. They might put it in a book but not a text to their friends so I don’t think it’s an amswer