Monday, November 5, 2012
Observations on our Culture Expressing Ourselves Basil Waine Kong Some of the interesting observations I have made about how we speak are that: 1. Any part of the body below the pelvic region is your "foot" and any part of your limbs below the shoulders is your "hand". 2. We love to repeat words for emphasis. We love a little something extra, added or brata as exemplified in our tautological descriptions. While Americans may say: "where are you---at?" “Déjà vu all over again", "free gift", "over-exagerate", "forward planning" or even "planning ahead" or "first introduced." Typically Jamaicans will say: “reverse back”, "Rock stone", "cry eye water", "mad crazy", "rain shower", "lamb meat" and my favorite, "I am all by myself, alone.". 3. We do not have very in our language. So, we just repeat the word as many times to emphasize how serious the circumstances are. I can be sick or I can be sick, sick, sick, or I can be close to dieing, when I am sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick. The daughter can be pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, or she can be pretty, pretty, pretty... 4. If someone in Jamaica ask you for a "drive", we are not asking to drive your car just to get a ride. 5. While Americans emphasize results, Jamaicans reward effort. Instead of "get dressed", we say "put on your clothes". In the United States, we wash coffee beans before we put them out to dry. In Jamaica, "we swim them." Farmers are planters. A rest stop is a "lay by" and a speed bump is a "sleeping policeman". A bright student is "bulby" as in a bright light bulb. If you want the driver to go faster, you would say "speed up" and Jamaicans say "mash (the gas pedal) e flat" putting the emphasis on the action rather than the desired outcome. You do not hang out clothes to dry, you put them out to sun. "Just be quiet" says Americans or "Resist the temptation to say something you will regret later." We say: "Don't let them pull yu tounge." 6. It is no big deal for the son from a wealthy family to succeed but we celebrate Horatio Alger stories of a phoenix rising from the ashes. We value remarkable effort regardless of the outcome. You can succed by failing in Jamaica if you try hard. 7 A Jamaican will not say "I don't know" or "I cannot do something". He or she will at least tell you something else that he knows. "I cannot tell you how to get to Woodlands but if you wanted to go to New Market..." And we will try to do anything as nothing defeats failure like a try.