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Piipl widoutn nalij a dem paas ischri, harijin ahn kolcha kom iin laka chrii widoutn ruut.
~ Maakos Giaavi, 1887-1940 ~
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Jumiekan Langwij Yuunit
Dipaatment a Langwij, Linggwistik & Filasafi
Yuniversiti a di Wes Indiz

JAMAICAN LANGUAGE UNIT
Department of Language, Linguistics & Philosophy
University of the West Indies

Jumiekan Langwij Kompini
fi promuot braadkyaas ina Jumiekan Langwij

JAMAICAN LANGUAGE COMPANY
promoting broadcasting in the Jamaican language

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Sasayati fi Kiaribiyan Linggwistik

Society for Caribbean Linguistics

Langwij Varayati
Yuniversiti a Nyuu hIngglant

Language Varieties
University of New England

UsingEnglish.com
hIngglish Langwij Laanin Anlain

English Language Learning Online
ESL / EFL / TESL / TEFL / TESOL / ESOL

Updated

Opdiet

 

 

 

 

GRAMA
Grammar

Sens Ingglish, sebntiin senchri hIngglish at dat, a di ruut langwij fi Jumiekan, dehn rispektib grama ago kanchraas. Da wie, di distingtib fiichadem wa mek Jumiekan wahn libn langwij wi ailait. Fi di siem riizn se ibies pahn hIngglish lexikan, ikiahn habzaab heni nyuu wod fi kipi vokiabileri ahn kansep we ikiahn hexpres op-tu-diet. Di grama wi muor ar les tan siem wie laka ou idu fi chrii senchri.
Since English, seventeenth century English at that, is the root language for Jamaican, their respective grammars will be contrasted. That way, the distinctive features that make Jamaican a living language will be highlighted. For the same reason that it is English lexicon based, it can absorb any new words to keep its vocabulary and the concepts it can express up-to-date. The grammar will more or less remain the same as it has been for three centuries.

PRUONOUN
Pronouns
POZESHAN
Possession
DITOERMINA
Determiners
INTARAGATIB
Interrogatives
VOERBAL
Verbals
NEGITIB
Negatives
PRUONOUN
Pronouns
Akrolek Miizolek Bazilek
I
you
he/she/it
we
you
they
ai/a
yuu
im/shi/hit
wi
unu
de(m)
mi
yu
ihn/ihn/i
wi
unu
dehn

I sit

you eat too much

they run quickly

a sit

yuu hiit tu moch

de ron kwik

mi sidong

unu niam tomoch

dehn ron kwik-kwik

me
you
him/her/it
us
you
them
mi
yu
im/ar/hit
os
yu
dem
mi
yu
im/im/hi
wi
unu
dem

he likes us

they carry her with them

ii laik os

de(m) kiari har wid dem

ihn laik wi

dehn kiaa im wid dem

POZESHAN
Possession
Akrolek Miizolek Bazilek
my - mine
your - yours
his/her - hers/its
our - ours
your - yours
their - theirs
mai - mainz
yo - yorz
iz/er - erz/it
howa - howaz
yuor - yorz
dier - dierz
mi - fimi
yu - fiyu
ihn/ar/i - fiim/fiar/fiit
fiwi - fiwi
unu - fiunu
fidem - fidem

the red is mine and the blue are yours

did she give you her number?

the truck is his but the cars are theirs

it is John's computer

saddle Barry's father's horse

what is Keteisha's baby's father's name?

di red iz mainz an di bluu a yorz

shi did giv yu ar nomba?

di chrok iz iz bot di kyaarz ar dierz

hiz Jan kompyuuta

sagl Bari faada haas

wat Kitiisha beebi faada niem?

di red a fi mi ahn di bluu a fi yu

ihn gi yu ihn nomba?

di chok a fiim bot di kiaardem a fidem

a fi Jan kompiuta

saglop fi Bari pupa aas

a-wa Kitiisha biebi faada niem?

DITOERMINA
Determiners
Akrolek Miizolek Bazilek
a
the
this
that
these
those
some
any
every
all
none
a
di
dis
dat
diiz
dooz/duoz
som
eni
evri
aul
non
wahn
di
dis/disya
daa/daade
demaya
demde
som
heni
hebri
haal
non
INTARAGATIB
Interrogatives
Akrolek Miizolek Bazilek
who
whose
what
which
when
why
where
how
uu
fi uu
wat
wish
wen
wai
we
ou
a-uu
a-uufa
a-wa/a-wara
a-hush
a-wen
a-wa mek/siek a-wa
a-we/we paat/hush paat
a-ou
VOERBAL
Voerbdem no hinflek; dehn no chienj askaadn to nomba, kies ahn tens, no laik Ingglish ahn hada hels langwij. Di kantex wi yuujal indikiet awa. Adawaiz, sohn haaxileri voerb ar paatikl de fi maak tens.
Verbals
Verbs are not inflected; they do not change according to number, case and tense, unlike English and other languages. The context usually indicates what they are. Otherwise, there are some auxiliary verbs or particles to mark tense.
positive mi taak I talk
I talked
negative mi no taak I do not talk
I did not talk
a
continuous aspect marker - positive
mi a taak I am talking
naa
continuous aspect marker - negative
mi naa taak I am not talking
(b/w)ena
continuous past aspect marker - positive
mi ena taak I was talking
nehna
continuous past aspect marker - negative
mi nehna taak I was not talking
(b/w)ehn
remote past aspect marker - positive
mi ehn taak I had talked
nehn
remote past aspect marker - negative
mi nehn taak I had not talked
don
perfect aspect marker - positive
mi don taak I have talked
neba
perfect aspect marker - negative
mi neba taak I have not talked
ago
future aspect marker - positive
mi ago taak I will talk
naago
future aspect marker - negative
mi naago taak I will not talk
gwaihn/gweihn
future intent - positive
mi gwaihn taak I am going to talk
no gwaihn
future intent - negative
mi no gwaihn taak I am not going to talk
de
state or location marker
mi de taak I am/was (in the process of) talking
(b/w)ehnde
state or location marker
mi (b/w)ehnde taak I have/had been (in the process of) talking
agode
future state or location marker
mi agode taak I will be (in the process of) talking
de
state or location marker

i de de
Sohn spiika madifai dis tu/Some speakers modify this to di de

dehn de ya

ihn de bout

Paal de a farin

dopi de

it is there

 

they are here

he is around

Paul is abroad

ghosts exist

fi
obligation marker

ihn fi dwii

yu fi nuo bout

mi fi go luk fa

Kiati fi du beta ahn dat

he should do it

you should be informed

I should go look for it

Kathy should do better than that

afi
neccessity marker

mi afi gwaan siem wie

yu afi manij widout im

dehn gweihn afi yuuz di nex wan

Tamsn no bada afi dwiit agen

I have to continue the same way

you have to manage without him

they are going to have to use the other one

Thompson does not have to do it again

gofi
inceptive marker

mi dis gofi kaal yu

yu gofi mek di siem mistiek

ihn gofi hopn di leta

Biechis nieli gofi gii we

I was just about to call you

you are about to make the same mistake

he was about to open the letter

Beatrice nearly gave it away

gofigo
purposive marker

mi gofigo kaal yu bot mi laas di nomba

ihn gofigo marid tu ar tel ihn fain out se shi ab man

dehn gofigo chaaj im bot dehn hiiz im op

Delrai gofigo kot aaf di lait bot dehn mikies pie di bil

I intended to call you but I lost the number

he planned to marry her until he found out she had a man

they were going to charge him but they let him off

Delroy intended to turn off the electricity but they quickly paid the bill

Nuot pahn a ahn de
Demaya a di wod we yuuz fi hindikiet biin. hIngglish ab wan infinitib, to be, bot Panish ab tuu: ser fi hexpres biin iina stiet ar kandishan; ahn estar fi biin iina plies. Jumiekan com iin laka Panish yaso, but widoutn inflekshan. Wi ago komparisn dem.
Note on a and de
These are the words used to indicate being. In English there is one infinitive, to be, but Spanish has two: ser to express being in a state or condition; and estar for being in a place. Jamaican is like Spanish in this regard, but without inflections. We will compare them.
Ingglish Panish Jumiekan

I am a boy

he is the same

Della is in Ochi

they are here

yo soy un muchacho

el es mismo

Della esta en Ochi

ellos estan aqui

mi a bwai

im a di siem

Dela de a Uochi

dehn de ya

Voerbal flexibiliti
Wan a distingtibis voerbal mikianizam a Jumiekan a ou di spiika lou fi yuuz wan paat a piich fi aneda. So ihn kiahn ton ajitiv ahn noun ina voerb ahn voerb ina noun ahn hebribadi til andastan wa im a se.
Adjectives and nouns as verbs
One of the most distinctive verbal mechanisms of Jamaican is that the speaker is allowed to use one part of speech for another. Thus, one can turn adjectives and nouns into verbs and verbs into nouns without loss of comprehension.
Bies
Base
Madifaya
Modifier
Nyuu yuusij
New usage

priti
pretty

doti
dirty

naasii
nasty

kaul
cold

nof
many

laivli
lively

red doert
red dirt

+ op

priti-op
to make pretty

doti-op
to soil, make dirty

naasi-op
to make filthy

kaul-op
to make cold

nof-op
to expand, enlarge

laivli-op
to excite, enthuse

red-doert-op
to soil with red dirt

priich
preach

juok
joke

ramp
play

+ ifai

priichifai
pompous

juokifai
given to making jokes

rampifai
playful

Noun
Noun
Yuuz az voerb
Used as verb

intenshan
intention

advantij
advantage

kompolshan
compulsion

samanz
summons

komparisn
comparison

im intenshan fi bai di prapati ahn bil ous
he intends to buy the property and build a house

di laaya advantij mi yuuz mi dipazit fi ihnself
the lawyer took advantage of me using my deposit for himself

mi kompolshan go a toun laas wiik
i was compelled to go to town last week

dehn samanz im fi go a kuot nex mont
they summoned him to attend court next month

wen yu komparisn dem yu si se da wan ya beta
when you compare them you see this one is better

NEGITIB
Negatives
No laik hIngglish bot laik nof ada hels langwig, dobl negitib yuuz fi hexpres nigieshan. Dis a fi hemfasis.
Unlike English but like many other languages, a double negative is used to express negation. This is for emphasis.

mi naa du notn
I'm not doing anything

ihn naa go nowe
he's not going anywhere

non no di de
there is none there

nobadi no nuo notn
chripl negitib/triple negative
nobody knows anything

* hExepshan nof Exception *

nof nehn di de
not much was there

nof smadi no kom
many people did not come

Doblop
Waneda retarikal divais a fi doblop di wod fi madifai di hifek: diskripta get chrangga, hintensifai; hakshan get jragout, kyaahn tap.
Doubling up
Another rhetorical device is to repeat a word to modify the effect: descriptors are stronger, intensified; action becomes continuous, relentless.
Bies
Base
Doblop
Doubling
Inkriis Ifek
Increased Effect

priti
pretty

kaul
cold

nof
many

likl
little

red

priti-priti

kaul-kaul

nof-nof

likl-likl
sumaal-likl

red-red

very pretty, decorative, attractive

extremely cold, freezing

great amount, whole lot

very small, diminutive

intense red

chaa
chew

waak
walk

linga
linger

fala
follow

chaa-chaa

waak-waak

linga-linga

fala-fala

chew relentlessly, gnaw to bits

walking all about, wandering aimlessly

lingering longer, dawdling, foot-dragging

following doggedly

 

 
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Bakgrong himij adap frahn / Background image adapted from
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