Some Recent Jamaican Creole Words
ByPeter L. Patrick
[An earlier version of this word-list appeared in the journalAmerican Speech in Fall 1995, 70(3):227-264. The list is prepared in accordance with their style sheet for glossaries.]
This is a list of about 130 words in Jamaican Creole, which are not given in the standard reference work, the Dictionary of Jamaican English (cited below as DJE; see the References section at the end of this list). They're "new" either in the sense that they were not used when the fieldwork for the DJE was done in the 1950s and early 1960s; or the form was previously listed in the DJE, but a new sense is given here; or vice versa. Some of the forms exist in English generally, but appear here with new or extended meanings -- see e.g. draw, with a sense which is not among the 89 listed in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). A few words here were listed in the DJE but have new or fuller citations here. At the end is a short list of items which I'd like more information on before I include them as full entries (click here to jump to that list); if you can help, please contact me at email@example.com . (The list of people who helped me with this is given below, and if you do too, I'll gladly add you to it! At the end I give a list of references from which entries are drawn.)
The definitions here are longer than is common in many dictionaries; my purpose was to explain the social context of the words, and to give them fuller illustration than is often the case in dictionaries. About half of the citations here are taken from tape-recordings of natural Jamaican speech made either by myself (1989-90, 1992b), by Profs. Frederic Cassidy (original field tapes 1952) or David DeCamp (ditto 1957), or by Prof. Arvilla Payne-Jackson and colleagues (1978-94). Many others were taken from the oral histories of workign-class women in Sistren (1987), which were originally tape-recorded, or from Gunst (1995), or in a few cases recollected from my own usage (I learned Jamaican as a child in the early 1960s). The rest come from Jamaican literature, news media, scholarly work, or popular song.
To hear a brief excerpt from one of DeCamp's field tapes and view the transcript, click here .
To hear a brief excerpt from one of Patrick's field tapes and view the transcript, click here .
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
avoid/avaid/ vt Prevent 1958 Nov DeCamp tape 4A-43, Reel 21a elderly yam-grower
from rural Craig Hill, Manchester "[DeCamp:] What you do to avoid-- ahh-- being
robbed and killed, when you get your money in the town? [Interviewee:] You cyaan't
'vaid it. [D:] A wha you do then? [Interviewee:] Is only di govament could avaid it, we
cyan't avaid it." (The speaker believes actively preventing such crimes is beyond the
average person's ability.)
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
baby-father/biebi faada/ n [baby + father] Man who fathers a child, but is not married
to the mother (cohabitation or common-law marriage not implied) 1987 Sis 292 (diary
entry by actress/narrator) "February 1978. Our play opened at the Barn Theatre. It is
called Bellywoman Bangarang, because it is about teenage pregnancy. I thought up the
title. Betty's baby-father came to the dress rehearsal and threatened to beat her up because
she wasn't staying at home and taking care of the children."
baby-mother /biebi mada/ n [baby + mother] Woman who is carrying, or has given
birth to, a man's child, but is not married to the man (cohabitation or common-law
marriage not implied) 1989 Nov 21 Daily Gleaner letter to the editor relating a
fictional conversation between a foreign investor and a job applicant, a DON with political
patronage "[Foreign Investor:] 'Your MP must be a very powerful person.' [Applicant:]
'Wait little. One day, one a mi baby-madda did want a job and I jus show my MP. Is
down the road deh, a fareign man jus like you.' [FI:] 'Baby mother, who is that?' [A:]
'Hey boss, is ten yout [children] mi have with six DONNA and sometime the money nah
flow so right with me so dem have fi hustle now and then, you know, do a little work.'
[FI:] 'Oh, well, go on.' [A:] 'Yes, dem did tell my baby-madda bout qualification. After
my MP mek two phone call, is six months supervisor work she get.' By this time the F.I.
'knew the RUNNINGS' and his workforce grew by one." 1989 Senior 2 "The house had
belonged to his mother. ... SonSon in fact spent little time there, being usually at the
home of one of his baby-mothers especially Jestina, who was the youngest and the
prettiest." 1995 Gunst 11 "... the time when a schoolchild would get new shoes or a
POSSE member's baby-mother (the mother of his child) received some clothing and
money for her child."
backative /bakativ/ n [back-up + -ative adj suffix] Support, back-up, corroboration;
a group of people one can rely on 1982 Pollard 35 "backative stamina; strength"
(lacks collective sense) 1987 Sistren 184 "She start call down all who live inna di yard
fi backative." Sistren 144 "Everybody down there know what happen. Me feel good
seh me have me backative-them." (Here, adding the associative plural -dem suffix, a
waitress depends on the support of her customers and co-workers for help in a workplace
confrontation with an ex-boyfriend.)
bailo /bailo/ n [prob < Span baila, bailar 'dance'] Form of KUMINA play or performance
which may involve dancing, singing, and drumming (Contrasts with COUNTRY in that it
is relatively light, brief, public, and oriented to entertainment. BAILO may stand alone,
representing the secular Kumina tradition at a wedding or holiday celebration, or in
public cultural performances such as the annual Festival marking Independence; or it may
constitute the introductory part of a Kumina PLAY, which then segues into the more
serious and private Country form. In bailo, many ritual roles and functions are not
performed. The raising of songs takes place in Jamaican Creole, rather than the KiKongo-
derived "African Country" language, and any participant with the knowledge may raise
an appropriate song. The drumming and dancing is similarly calm, conceived as a warm-
up for the faster-paced and more intense mumbaka style; bailo may not induce
possession or directly invoke nkuyu spirits [cf. Ryman 1984, Warner-Lewis 1977].)
bandu /bandu, banda, kbandu/ n [ < KiKongo mbandu, bandu 'little, long drum with a
fine high sound', Laman 1936, 521] Drum associated with traditional Kumina dance-
drumming (one of two types) (The BANDU and the PLAYING-KYAS (-CASE) in DJE) are
both cylindrical single-head wooden drums, roughly two feet long and one foot in
diameter, often made of cedar, breadfruit, trumpet-wood or coconut-palm. The drumhead
for the slightly larger BANDU is of ram-goat skin for a "heavier"sound, to give the drum
"belly".) 1984 Ryman 103 reporting 1976 Dec Tredigar Park, St. Catherine Tape AC-
DR INT-K/7 Kumina drummer "We head it at 12 o'clock at night at any heavy water-
fall. De reason of dat is dat the night is cool. So when [you play the bandu at night and]
it reach all 12 o'clock it still ripe because it head in a cool time (and) dat mean it well
stretched! Yu see dat water-fall what coming 'whooooh', and, you hear that sound? Dat
get into de drum. So when you roll it, is almost dat sound you hear." (The drum is
soaked and sprayed with white rum and sugar-water, stretched and tied with a WIS (vine
or root), and "fastened by means of nails which are driven in to increase tension" [Bilby
and Leib 1986, 24]. Both types of drum are turned on the side and "played with hands
and heel while the drummer sits astride" [Ryman 1984, 83]. The bandu plays a regular
4/4 rhythm, accented on the first and third beats. Two may be played simultaneously; it
may also be played on the rear rim, by a drummer seated behind, with a pair of KATA
bandulu /banduulu/ attrib [etymology unknown] Unauthorized, illegal; sneaky, clever;
jerry-rigged 1995 Gunst 125 "Everyone called it 'Brooklyn Corner'; it had a bandooloo
(illegal) telephone hookup for unbilled overseas calls, and at night there was always a
line of people waiting for their turn at the phone."
banja /banja/ attrib [DJE 1935 v in sense 'play the fool'] False, sham, mock (The
attributive use occurs in the construction '(Name) + BANJA' in several Anansi (ANANCY)
stories with the common theme of guile, fooling another. In the story 'Anansi Banja', the
essence of the trick consists in changing one's name by adding 'Banja' to fool one's
mother.) 1952 FGC tape 4A-7, Reel 5a Young man, painter/artisan of Lucea, Hanover
"Me ma, we de go come to you now, and when we come, we de go sing say 'Anansi
name a Anansi-Banja', but you mustn't listen to dat."
bath /baat/ vt [OEDC -->1876; DARE 1931; variant of bathe /bied/, DJE] Bathe
1958 Nov DeCamp tape 4A-16, Reel 23a middle-aged woman of Belmont, Portland
(telling folktale in which an auntie bathes a small child she is trying to catch and eat)
"She hot one pan a water. ... 'Baat me!' ... Di gyal go an' put a pot a water a fire. Im say,
'Aright, you mus baat me.' " 1984 Aug 20 Payne-Jackson tape AC-105a-21 Maroon
elder, healer and story-teller from well-known family in Accompong, St. Elizabeth
(discussing spiritual healers) "Converters ... Dem charge you a fifty cents fi draw you
case, and if dem fi give you treatment, you gots to pay dem again. Well, a dose people
now baat you. Otherwise is only when you got a fever." (Both hot baths referred to here
have special, even magical, healing properties; this word may be associated with such
contexts. Form derived from English noun, rather than the verb.)
beard-man /biedman/ n [DJE --> 1960] Rastafarian man 1952 Cassidy tape 9B-5,
Reel 13b 45-year-old man, manual laborer in Barbican, St. Andrew "Dem-de whe you
see 'ave beard, a Rastafari man. ... Keep a lot of long hair, an beard, an whiskers. Da's di
beeps /biips/ n 1: Male who engages in homosexual activity 2: Any effeminate male
(both pejorative) 1995 May Patrick man, St. Mary, 36 "Den beeps no ste siem wie az
batiman?" ("Isn't beeps just like BATI-MAN?") (Common in 1970s slang, this insult term
may be compounded beeps-man; see also, e.g., MAAMA-MAN, MAMPALA.
bembe, bembe-yam /bembe/ [poss < Kikongo, (ba-) bembe 'proper name' (of people and
area NW of Brazzaville), Laman 1936, 29; or mbembe 'clan name; long calabash used as
pipe', Laman 1936, 527] 1958 Dec DeCamp tape 4B-38, Reel 23b elderly man of
Belmont, Portland (singing as part of Anansi story) "Anansi come an' gone, bembe ko
bembe." (Occurred in song refrain several times, with a rhythmic function but possibly a
nonsense meaning. Asked to explain the term, the storyteller offered another Anansi
story; under direct questioning, he answered DeCamp: "Bembe mean to say, im go draw
up-- an' leggo down di rope. Him go up an' come down." Again, two stories later: "Dis
yam name h'a bembe-yam.") 1977 Bilby Maroon man, Moore Town, Portland Song
sung in Kromanti Play (cf Bilby 1981) "Bembe, bembe bembe, bakra sa." (See also
betime /bitaim/ adv [OEDC betime(s) obs, DARE betimes] By the time (that) 1958
Nov DeCamp tape 4A-36, Reel 21a elderly yam grower in Craig Hill, Manchester
(complains of being cheated when he goes to sell his produce, because the depot-man
refuses to let him watch it being weighed) "If it is sellin' for ,5 a hundred, you don' get
more dan ,4.10s. Betime you pay truck, catch a likkle breakfast out there ... Dem don'
give you de chance to go and look how much it weigh. Dem going so fas' pon it, dat as
you weighin' a quarter yam, and betime you fi believe say, 'Well, [it's] di quarter yam
now,' dem tek it out long time." (Common in rural speech. Not used in sense
'occasionally' [Amer] or 'soon, early' [Brit]. See also DJE, SV BIGENS
big-foot /bigfut/ n [DJE 'a type of elephantiasis'] Painful inflammation of the foot and
lower leg, often believed to be the result of OBEAH 'African-derived spiritual powers
which may be used for good or evil purposes' or of a DUPPY 'spirit' who TEK SET (P)ON
the sufferer (Through these supernatural agents evil objects enter the body, which must
then be extracted by a healer in order to cure it.) 1992 July 18 Patrick tape JC-R4b-42
male cane-cutter, 43, of Bath, St. Thomas in illness narrative "Me feel the hands of
duppy, man. Me have all big-foot whe' them give me all big-foot." (Big-foot may have
either natural, divine, or supernatural causes in Jamaican ethnomedicine; see also OBEAH-
FOOT, THOMAS MASU, TIMBIM; cf. Patrick & Payne-Jackson, 1996)
bleach /bliich/ vi Stay awake at night, often with the sense of waiting or watching for
something 1987 Sistren 124 Actress/activist, 36 (quoting her older stepmother recalling
political party meetings during the 1980 elections) "Look how much night me bleach fi
hear Michael Manley talk!" 1989 Sept Patrick tape JC-U22b-5 young activist man, 32,
from the same E. Kingston neighborhood (recollects guarding his community against
night invasions during the political violence of the 1980 elections) "After bleaching the
whole night ... staying up the whole night, we call it bleaching, on the alert, hearing
anything" 1995 Gunst 60 man, 30s, photographer from Central Kingston "Nuff-nuff
time I don't even sleep down here. I just bleach all night. Is too much noise bout the
place fi sleep." (This term and others, e.g. NOTCH and RANKIN) may be strongly
associated with the events of that time period.)
bluestone /blustuon/ n [OEDS] Hydrated sulphate of copper (A naturally occurring
mineral substance used as a harsh folk remedy for infection, esp in animals. The anti-
septic is prepared and applied to the infected area, and burns mightily. Used against
scorpion stings in colonial days [Cassidy 1994].) 1966 Bennett 42 "Every sore-foot got
him blue-stone, / Every tief got him las' deal, / Noh care how smaddy dah-gwan bad, /
Sinting [something] deh fe spokes him wheel." (i.e., 'everything bad or fearsome will
encounter its match eventually'. Poem probably dates from late 1940s) 1987 Sistren 30
middle-aged woman from Trelawny "It good to better sore, but is someting yuh use on
horse and mule. Papa say it so dangerous dat him no waan fi use it pon we. We ... parch
di bluestone on di fire and crush it up to drop it in we foot. Is like di living fire. Is like if
you rub salt inna fresh cut. It burn and it pain you and it nah wear off." 1990 Feb
Patrick tape JC-U94b-4 female domestic worker, 46, from rural St. Catherine, describing
self-treatment with it as a child a generation ago "Dem had a ting you call bluestone.
You parch it and you grind it up. ... Dem always put it ina people lame foot. When the
t'ing burn me, it come like it touch me heart!"
boops /bups/ n [DARE 1968-70 boopsie in sense 'Joking name a woman may use to
refer to her husband' or 'sweetheart'] Man who financially supports a young woman he
is involved with 1980s early, song by SuperCat titled "Boops" 1995 Gunst 87
"Brambles pointed out the girls from the Protein Posse, the local queens who'd so named
their CREW because they were eating well, now that their boyfriends-- boopses-- a'foreign
were sending down money."
braggadocious /bragaduoshos/ attrib [< OEDC braggadocio 'empty, idle boaster' + -ous
adj suffix; cf DARE 361] Boastful, swaggering 1989 Aug 28 Daily Gleaner, Flair
magazine (gossip item concerning Parliament) "We hear there was one grand shouting
match at the Hope Road house where the important ones got together for their weekly
meetings. Seems a senior Minister of Government was trying to tell one of his
bragadocious colleagues that 'Is not so this ting go' and that 'Him running up him mouth
too much and him can't bite the hand that feed him.' The Minister being scolded got mad
and screamed at his colleague, warning him to first cast the beam out of his eyes and
curb his expensive taste before he talks to him."
breeder /briida/ n [breed + -er nom suffix] Food dish which endows the eater with
sexual desire and/or ability, esp the ability (for men) to impregnate a woman 1992 July
Patrick East Kingston man, 35, of East Indian descent (in reference to a seafood
soup with conch in it) "Kangk a briida yu nuo, mek yu trang! ['Conch is a breeder,
y'know, it makes you strong!']" (A breeder such as MANNISH WATER (DJES) is typically
served at a wedding to the bride-groom to fortify his potency.)
bright /brait/ attrib 1: Bold, forward, impudent or facetious 1987 Sistren 59 "Di
woman open her hand and gimme one box [blow] and say, 'Yuh really get bright in yah.
Pass yuh place. Yuh a lickle pickney, yuh know.' Sistren 232 young woman (brushing
off an acquaintance in a bar) "When me go buy two beer, hear him, 'Rahtid! Yuh know
how I a look fi dis gal yah?' [and her:] 'A who yuh a call gal? Yuh bright!' " (DJE
sense applies only to looks or glances; the term is used more widely for behavior that
breaches the bounds of propriety, though not as all-purpose as FACETY. Particularly
commonly used by women of and to men or children, as above.) 2: Light-colored (esp
for skin) 1995 Gunst 27 "Jamaicans have not relinquished their preference for 'bright'
skin, 'good' hair, and white-featured faces."
brouni; obrouni /obroni, obrouni, abrouni, brouni/ n [DJE < Twi o-buro-ni in sense
'white man'] Non-MAROON; outsider; person with no Maroon blood (The DJE entry
cites a Maroon source in Moore Town, one of the principal Maroon settlements, in
eastern Portland, and another, also in Portland. The Twi etymon o-buro-ni is defined in
Christaller  as "European, white man, mulatto".) 1952 Cassidy tape 7A-18, Reel
10a Maroon male elder, Moore Town, born before 1900 (speaking to white Jamaican)
"With the Maroon system, you-- you is obrouni to we. ... From ancient days now, we call
you obrouni, an we is YANGKUKU ... [obrouni is] white man same like you." (However,
fieldwork among the Maroons by Kenneth Bilby reveals the more general meaning [1981,
77; 1984, 13]. The difference is clearly revealed in the extension of the term to "half-
Maroons" [e.g., among the Charles Town Maroons], who would not be considered
"white" in Jamaica. As whites are necessarily outsiders to Maroon communities the
narrower, and perhaps original, sense is easily understood [but cf. Dalby 1971, 43, who
suggests the opposite process]. The more general one can also be found in DJE source
data.) 1952 Cassidy tape 7A-41, Reel 10b Maroon elder "Mother" (telling the story of
the 18th century Maroon leader known to most Jamaicans as Nani, refuses to divulge her
secret name) "I shall not tell you her name for her name is never to be told to
obrouni." 1986 Alleyne 314 Maroon speaker: " 'Obroni o-ko' White man has gone.
... 'obroni o da bra' white man (or stranger) is coming." (cf. YANGKUKU)
brown /broon, broun/ attrib White(-skinned), or JAMAICA WHITE (Formerly used to refer
to skin color of "mulatto or coloured" person, "between black and white"; see DJE
BROWN GIRL, BROWN MAN, RED IBO, RED SKIN. It is now also widely used as a synonym
for 'white', esp by rural people.) 1991 Aug 6 Payne-Jackson AD-032a-26 herbal
healer, male, 35, of Woodside, St. Mary (discussing MERMAID sighting) "[Interviewee:]
She saw dis little brown woman, in de water. ... Pretty little white woman sit up on top of
de rock. [Interviewer:] Was she brown or white? [Interviewee:] I use de word brown but
I mean white, like you'd say a white woman." 1992 July 12 Patrick fieldnotes girl, 15,
of Hermitage, St. Andrew continually referred to interviewer as a "brown man" and
described other foreign whites as "brown like you", even after agreeing that the
interviewer was a "white man".
buck-up /bokop/ 1: v To get lucky, encounter good fortune, through no virtue of one's
own, as in Im kyaan biit mi, a jos bokop im bokop an win 'He can't beat me, he simply
got lucky and won' (author's own usage) (extension of the primary sense 'encounter,
meet' [DJE] 2: n Lucky accident, as in Dat a pyuur bokop man, yu naa dwiit agen
'That's purely a lucky accident man, you'll never do it again' (author's own usage)
(derived from verbal sense above rather than noun sense 'social gathering or meeting'
build /bil/ vt Make or construct a material object; assemble or create immaterial objects,
as in "build a story" 1992 July 25, Patrick fieldnotes Clarendon man, 40 "Im waan bil
a kyaset" ['He wants to record a cassette tape'] (perhaps derived from the primary DJE
meaning of "to produce by growing"; see also DARE senses 1-3)
butu /butu/ n Fool, ignoramus, bumpkin, QUASHIE; also used in noun compounds, as in
What a likl butu-bwaai dat! 'What a little fool that boy is!' (author's own usage) (Core
use in 1970s teenage speech was the insult term, rather than the verb [DJE 'stoop down,
squat']. Like many other Jamaican derisive terms-- see DARK, IGNORANT-- butu has rural
associations; use may also impute to its target relatively dark skin color, low social status
and low education.)
buy pass /bai paas/ 1: v phr Make excuses 1987 Sistren 274 "Dem use di word
'private' fi buy pass and cover up." 2: adv phr As a license for, as permission to, as
an excuse for (most commonly used in the expression tek X (fi) buy pass (fi) Y) 1987
Sistren 124 "Dat was what people tek buy pass for all manner of corruption." (probably
derived from use of passes during slavery time as guarantees that slaves were licensed to
leave their usual locations; see also GI PASS, TICKET. It may also be related to the Aluku
[Surinamese Maroon] word pasi, meaning permission, as in Mi e aki si pasi no? 'I'm
asking for permission', and Den gi mi pasi 'They gave me permission' [Bilby 1994])
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
capture/kyapcha/ v, attrib Squat on, or settle, plot of land without legal title 1987 Sis
178: "If yuh have a man, yuh might siddung and say, 'Well, bwoy, we no have noweh fi
live and so it seem like seh we haffi go capture a piece of land.' Him capture di land, or
if him have a friend, him and him friend talk and get togedder and capture it. If di people
dem inna di capture land no like yuh, dem would beat yuh or TEK SET (P)ON yuh till yuh
leave di area." Sistren 184 "After a time, me get fi find out seh a GINNALship ['guile']
she use and get di place. Di yard never belong to her. A she capture di place from
chat /chat/ v Tell (secrets that should remain hidden) 1984 Ryman 101, 90 "Perhaps
the most serious offence within Bongo law is the chatting of Kumina secrets. ... There is
a prescribed etiquette between the members of the Kumina community. Chatting-- that is,
not keeping the secrets of Kumina-- [is one] of the more important taboos enshrined in
the law." (This sense, more precise than the usual 'idle talk, gossip' esp among Kumina
groups, is opposed to that of CUDJOE.)
check /chek/ v Call upon, visit someone (often with a request) 1989 Dec 20 Daily
Gleaner "E.T. described Mr. P. as a good man. 'You waan find sey this man do a lot fe
dis area. Is a whole heap a young youth im keep out a trouble because im find work give
dem to do. More time we all dey round de place and hungry and we check im fe a
money and im gi we still,' he said." 1991 David & Stephen Marley song "Raw Riddim"
"Now I'm at a corner, gonna check a sistren left alone to suffer. Now I'm at the station,
going to check a bredren charge with instigating revolution."
check fi /chek fi/ v phr 1: Like, approve 1987 Sistren 274: "Mi definitely no check fi
how him deal wid woman." 1995 Gunst 206: "C. stared hard at the [Hasidim in
Brooklyn]. 'I don't check too much for white people,' he muttered." 2: Be attracted to,
desire, esp between sexes, as in Bwai, him really check fi di DAWTA! 'Boy, he really
likes that young woman!' (author's own usage) (used in 1970s slang especially in this
sense) 1977 Lloyd Lovindeer song "A Tale of Two Couples" "Oh girl, she don't check
fe baldhead Johnny because the dreadie don't want to dance, dance, dance with a
baldhead, ... [but] him still check fe Liza" 1982 Pollard 30 "check to befriend the
continuated (water) /kantinyuwetid waata/ attrib (n) CONTRIBUTED (WATER)
contributed (water) /kanchibyutid waata/ attrib (n) [evidently an error for consecrated]
Water that has been sanctified for use in spiritual healing 1992 July 18 Patrick tape
JC-R4b-44 cane-cutter, 43, third-grade education, from St. Thomas (describing part of a
healing ceremony conducted by a Maroon spiritual mother for his BIG-FOOT) "From me
go to Moore Town and Mother put her hand pon me, from Mother hand give me little
continuated water to drink." Patrick tape JC-R5a-2 "Mother said, 'Drink the little
contributed water, drink it.'"
cow-gut /kou got/ n [DJE entry: 'tin lamp'] Lamp consisting of a cloth wick and oil set
in an open metal container 1991 Aug Payne-Jackson tape AD-032A-46 male herbalist
and healer, 35, rural St. Mary (recalling true-life DUPPY story from his childhood) "We
have this lamp that they call in those days, TINNEN LAMP. People call it KITCHEN-BITCH,
and they call it cow-gut. The sodder-men make it from a little zinc. It's a open lamp, you
use a piece a cloth to make de wick and down de bottom is like a condense cyan
[condensed-milk can], which contain de oil, an' den you light it up 'ere." (The lamp blows
out at the moment the duppy begins to chase him and his mother.)
crew, krew /kru/ n [< F&W crew, 'company of people; crowd; gang'] 1: Social group
of peers, etc. (see POSSE) 1989 Sept 24 Patrick tape JC-U33a-20 young and adult
children of university-educated, middle-class family in Kingston suburb "[Patrick:] Any
graffiti here? [M, age 23:] Jus' recently. ... You know, dese signs like-- like what dey do
in the US, like Dis Crew and Dat Crew. [P:] What is dis Crew business? [R, 14, sister:]
You have a group of people, like from de same school-- [M:] --Posse. [R:] Hol on-- this
is a new thing, the crew. [M:] I think-- I don' think this is much different, y'know. In my
time, a grouping of us would be a posse. [J, 22, sister:] Yeh." 2: Common name for
gangs, esp of urban youths who sometimes leave graffiti on public walls 1989 Nov 11
Patrick Kingston wall: "Stuck Crew ... Exodus Crew ... Stuck Crew Base 70 ... Who is
ACC? Alley Cat Krew rule ... Kick-a-Face Crew" Nov 12 Patrick tape JC-U45b-14, 19
young Kingston woman, 24 "Bad boys hang out by demself. But dat time you neva had
much crew, jus some really dunce boys who neva want to go to school, trouble girls
when you pass, jus dat. But now it's different, you have a lot of crew and dis, an dey
write up in de buses, Dis Posse and Dis Crew run t'ings, an so." (Sometimes considered
to be a less criminal phenomenon than POSSES, e.g. "You 'ave people who come up here,
like D. Yes, them is PNP or JLP and them organize in a drugs bizness. But that is just a
syndicate, a crew. The reason I know D. never run a direct posse is ..." [Gunst 1995 147]
Both usages seem to be recent, perhaps influenced by US African American vernacular
culture, cf. Smitherman 1994, 87, 184; but see also MASSIVE, POSSE.)
criss /kris/ attrib [< crisp] 1: Fashionable, fancy, eye-catching (esp for dress or new
items), as in Dem shoes de kris, ee? 'Fancy shoes, eh?' (author's own usage) 1995
Gunst 88 " 'Them nice-up themself for the dance,' Brambles said approvingly. Then he
looked at me in my habitual khaki shorts and limp cotton shirt, damp with sweat. 'I never
see an American DAUGHTER dress like you. Why you no put on somethin crisp?' "
(extension of earlier sense 'proud', itself derived from describing 'a manner of walking:
conscious of one's value, beauty' [DJE KRIS, sense 2], but restricted to a person's bearing.
Nowadays used to describe physical appearance of objects as well, esp items that display
personal style such as shoes, jewelry, even a car, in which case it is always positive and
complimentary.) 2: Fastidious regarding appearance; haughty, disdainful, supercilious
(esp frequent in combination CRISS-MISS, a gendered epithet for young women which
implies STOOSH demeanor, like other terms describing social-climbing behavior which are
stereotypically associated with females; cf SPEAKY-SPOKY) 1987 Sistren 132: "I didn't
want anybody to touch my uniform. Is 'Criss Miss' they used to call me. I didn't play and
cudjoe /kojo/ v [< Fante, Twi, DJE sb sense 1 'day-name'; perh rel DJE vb B 'beat'?]
Keep one's mouth closed, not tell what one knows (opposite of CHAT) 1984 Ryman 103
(reporting a 1976 interview in Prospect, St. Thomas, tape AC-DR INT-K/3, K/4) "Is a
secret plant, we nuh know whe it come from, an what is in it so, but it powerful bad and
man know de use of it ... (but) me a fe cudjo. De Maypole is a secret dance."
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
dawta/daata/ n Young woman; by extension, (young) girlfriend or potential girlfriend
(male usage) (In the latter sense it is used to indicate or suggest sexual interest in a
female, as in Bwai, him really check fi di dawta! [author's own usage]) 1995 Gunst 46
Rastafarian woman, higgler at Liguanea, St. Andrew (during 1985 demonstration over
gasoline prices) " 'Whoy, dawta!' Plummy beamed, clapping me on the back in sisterly
greeting. 'What a day we live to see, eh? Lookin' like the big-men-them get a lickle of
their own back at last." (Quite distinct from fictive-kinship terms, it contrasts sharply
with sista and mad(d)a-- address terms suitable for mature women of a wide age-range,
implying no relationship other than a certain deference.)
dead-lef /dedlef/ n [< dead + left] Land inherited through the death of a family
member (Traditionally, the right to such FAMILY LAND inheres as long as one lives,
cannot be alienated through legal means, and is held in common with other relatives.)
1989 Sept 25 Patrick tape JC-U35b-34 retired policeman, 80, born Manchester,
settled East Kingston "A man name Reed use to live likkle below us. Reed did marry a
woman. Reed's wife got dead-lef. Di house an lan' dat him use to live, im neva bought it.
My fadda bought his ho-- bought his lan', buil' his house."
dead-yard /dedyaad/ n [ < dead + yard, DJE 'dead man's yard after burial'] Ceremony
after a person's death and burial, usually in their own family home or YARD (It involves
a series of activities stretching over many days and nights [see also DINGKI-MINI, NINE-
NIGHT], most of which take place out of doors at the person's family home or YARD. The
entire occasion, and not just the physical location itself, may be referred to as DEADYARD,
extending the DJE sense. Formerly the principal occasion for performing, teaching and
learning many folklore genres.) 1992 July 18 Patrick tape JC-R4b-33 cane-cutter, 43,
man from Bath in St. Thomas "Anansi story? to talk, like just sit down and talk them?
All at dead-yard and-- Yeh, dead-yard we used to keep up them thing, the Anansi story."
dibby-dibby /dibidibi/ attrib [Etymology uncertain; DJE sv divi-divi in sense 'Caesalpinia
plant'] Worthless, trifling, trivial; contemptible, petty (in common use as a diminutive,
pejorative, and/or insulting term, as in Da likl dibi-dibi ting-de! 'That contemptible little
thing!' [author's own usage]) 1989 May JBC-TV national news report, tape JT-1
"Supporters of the JLP opposition political party [which had just lost an election ending 8
years in office], at the opening of the new Parliament, cursed the new portfolio of
ministers as constituting a 'dibi-dibi government.'" Sept 1 Daily Gleaner concert review
in social column "And for those of you who think that reggae music is dying and has
been completely overshadowed by slackness and dance-hall, you should have been there
to experience the excellence and rapture that was Dennis Brown on Saturday morning. As
one young man about 18 years old who was walking ahead of me said, as we made our
way home to the strains of Bob Marley's 'One Love', said, 'A that a music. Dance-hall a
dibby-dibby business. Next year mi naa waste mi money an' go listen to no DJ."
don /dan/ n [ < Ital Don title, esp as in Coppola (1972) The Godfather character 'Don
Corleone'; but perhaps older, < Span Don title, and only reinforced by the 1972 movie's
great popularity (see first 1995 citation)] 1: Boss, leader, commander, warlord, chief of
a criminal POSSE; first in the hierarchy, the (TOP) RANKIN or (TOP) NOTCH 1989 Sept 6
Patrick tape JC-U22a-27 quot SV RANKIN 1995 Gunst 57 "Vic Reid, a Raetown child
who grew up to become a poet, novelist, and historian ... remembered the tourists as
'dons (noble and Mafia) and dolls (debutantes and tarts).' " Gunst 91 quote SV RANKIN
Gunst 92: "Red Tony Welch was the don of Concrete Jungle, the gangster-diplomat who
dealt with [the Minister of Housing] and got jobs for the Jungleites on work sites all over
town." Gunst 127 "All he talked about was murder after murder: how many men M.
had killed to get his ranking as a don." 2: Chief, dominant or foremost person in a field
(esp in areas of vernacular culture) 1995 Gunst 38: "SuperCat, the undisputed don of
dance-hall, came out with a hit song called 'Boops'."
donna /dana/ n [ < don and also proper name Donna] Girlfriend, DAWTA, or BABY-
MOTHER of a young man who styles himself a DON 1989 Nov 21 Daily Gleaner quot
draw /draa, jraa/ vt Tell, perform (one of a class of performed speech events that
includes stories, riddles, jokes, and proverbs) 1992 July 18 Patrick tape JC-R4b-37
cane-cutter, 43, from Bath, St. Thomas initiating an Anansi folktale (immediately after
having told a personal narrative and a nursery rhyme) "Anansi story different from
duppy [story] still, you know. Me go draw one here now! Breda Anansi an Breda
Takuma..." (extension of the 6 senses cited in the DJE)
duppy chocho /dopi chocho, dopi chuocho/ n Tree Morinda citrifolia; or its inedible
fruit; cf. JUMBY CHO-CHO (not related to the CHOCHO vine, Sechium edule, and its larger,
commonly-eaten fruit; see also DJE DUPPY sense 4, 'attrib and comb' and subsequent list
for other duppy- prefixed plants, Rashford [1988, 8], and next two entries, for plants with
unusual characteristics associated by Jamaicans with the spirit world) 1982 Robertson 4
(quoting Louise Bennett poem 'Bush Medicine') "Duppy cho-cho will wash 'way bad
duppy coconut /dopi kuoknat/ n Tree Barringtonia asiatica; or its inedible fruit, which
resembles half-grown green coconuts
duppy rice-and-peas /dopi rais an pii/ n Tree Pithecellobium unguis-cati; or its inedible
fruit, which resembles the colorful red-beans-and-rice staple dish RICE-AND-PEAS (not to
be confused with either the Quisqualis indica creeper vine, also called RICE-AND-PEAS
[DJES n 2] for its red, rose and white flowers, or DUPPY PEAS, the inedible wild peas of
the vine Crotolaria verrucosa or C. retusa)
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
earthshaken /ortshiek/ [earth + shake] Earthquake 1992 July Patrick tape JC-R15a-
15 elderly cane-cutter from Hanover "Dem-de lick you, you know man! You feel a
earthshake shake!" (Perhaps a folk-etymology from the subject-verb combination led to
this form, but now it may occur as a subject of the verb "shake" itself, as above.)
ettu, etu /etu/ n [< Twi, DJE] Dance occurring on the occasion of an ETU funeral or
wedding feast 1987 Sistren 235, woman performer, 30s, from St. James "Dancing help
me to understand we culture better because ah haffi study we roots to understand di roots
dances like KUMINA, BRUCKINGS, POCO and Ettu." (This ambiguity in names for dances
and ritual events also holds true of the other ceremonies cited.)
family land/famli lan, fambli lan/ n Land inherited through the customary system of
family tenure, inheritance, and use of land, common throughout rural Jamaica (FAMILY
LAND is frequently without title, primarily land inherited from an ancestor who received it
from a slave-owner after Emancipation, or lands forfeited by the Crown, or never-
granted mountainous land. FAMILY LAND is opposed to "bought land"; traditional beliefs
and practices regarding the former are often in direct conflict with Jamaican law, esp
where it is derived from English common law. FAMILY LAND may be passed on either
"through the blood", i.e., the mother, or "through the name", i.e., the father. In either
case, joint inheritance by all children without regard to legitimacy is the norm. The land
is held in trust, "to reap generations" ['for future generations']; any family member may
claim use, but none can sell it without violating tradition [cf. Clarke 1966].) 1987
French 19 dialogue in historical cartoon set in 1940s Jamaica "[Puncie:] So what happen
to di piece a lan' yu madda did leave fi yu an yu bredda an sista dem? [Adina:] Ay, mi
chile. Mi bredda nuh tek it weh! Seh him is di firs' born male an accordin' to di white
people law, is him fi inherit. [P:] So yu madda nevva leave no will? [A:] She come offa
di old time way. Yu leave lan' fi yu pickney-dem an who need it use it, an dat is dat. Mi
nevva know mi bredda woulda so wicked. [P:] Yu mean to seh afta yu generation lef di
lan' as family lan' yu bredda jos tek it inna him head fi tek it weh?"
fanti /fanti/ n, attrib [ < Akan Fante 'proper name of Fante language and people']
"Black Jamaicans who did not rebel and who remained in slavery" (Dalby 1971, 50);
attached to name to signify slave status (Rivalry between two ethnic groups of Akan
peoples on the Gold Coast of West Africa, "the inland Ashanti, noted for their hostility
towards white men, and the coastal Fante, who co-operated more readily with European
traders", evidently survived in Jamaica, esp among the Ashanti-dominated Maroons.
Maroon tradition in Moore Town preserves this in the tale of a war between the sisters
Shanti Rose and Fanti Rose; the former is also said to have fought the white man and
gained her freedom, unlike the latter [Dalby 1971, 49; cf. Bilby 1984].) 1989 Aug 9
Patrick tape JC-U10a-46 middle-class Kingston woman, 82 (recalling her Scottish tailor
grandfather and ex-slave grandmother) "Granny couldn' read, and he bein' an English
man. ... But, they had a color prejudice that I didn't like so much, as a child. He had a
lovely home. But Fanti Granny had other brothers and sisters, but would you believe
now, ha! even dough him married to this, ex- black slave woman, none of the relatives
could come t'rough di front gate. No. They had to walk to the side."
ferringbone /fierinbuon/ n [fierin 'fern' + bone 'stalk'] Mat for drying fresh ginger, made
of dried ferns 1952 Cassidy tape 8B-47, Reel 13a farmer of Christiana, Manchester
"[Interviewee]: Yes sah, green ginger. [Cassidy:] And what do you do with it next? You
said you spread it out on mats. Those mats are made of what? [Interviewee]: Fern. Call
them /fieringboon/. [C:] Ferringbone? [Interviewee:] /fieringboons/." (FIERIN is a common
term for 'fern' [DJE has also FERIL, FORM, FYAAN]; on the epenthetic vowel, see DJE,
xlviii and lxiii. BONE refers to the central stalk of a plant leaf, here implying that the rest
of the leaf is stripped off before the mat is made.)
fenky-fenky /fengki-fengki/ attrib [etymology uncertain DJE 175] Few, scanty. (This
quantifying sense is perhaps derived from DJE sense 2 'slight, puny', in reference to a
person's physique.) 1966 Bennett 208 (poem "Gay Paree") "An me tink how fruit a
London / Price an pedigree so high, / Dem amount so fenky-fenky, / Me kean even feas
me y'eye." (Folk poet Louise Bennett scornfully notes the high price and small quantity
of fruits available in London; kean is her spelling of /kyaan/ = 'can't'.)
fill(ed) /fil, fild/ attrib [fill + past ppl -ed, variably] State of religious ecstasy that may
range from peaceful spirituality to full possession (Term used to describe participants in
POCOMANIA religious services; the former state is exemplified in citation below, as a
woman returns from a Poco church to her disapproving husband.) 1987 Sistren 85
woman recollecting childhood incident from 1950s-1960s "When we reach home me
faada say, 'Foolishness! Me no see why dem haffi do dem tings fi praise God.' Me
stepmada no say notten. Dat time she deh filled, so she no answer him."
fly /flai/ v Look quickly or surreptitiously, peek, sneak a look 1987 Sistren 233: "'Him
a go married di end a di month.' 'Yuh too lie!' 'If yuh tink a lie me a tell, any evening
him come round yah just fly di dashboard in di car see if yuh see di invitation dem.' " (A
woman, having discovered that her lover is getting married to someone else, is advised by
a friend to sneak a look in his car at the wedding invitations.)
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
gi' pass/gi paas/ v phr [give + pass] Allow some infraction to go unnoticed; let
someone or something slip by; give someone a break, as in Gi mi likkle pass, na? 'Give
me a break, ok?' (author's own usage) (possibly related to BUY PASS) 1966 Bennett 60-1
(poem "Silent Zone") "Me wen a mine me bizniz mah, / Dah-gwan me peaceful way, /
Wen this depot-bwoy come hole me / Cause me Jackass start fe bray. / Him sey dung
here is silent zone, / An me should'n come soh far, / But atta me po' li Jackass / Is not
noh mota kyar! ... An since him nat noh traffic, is / Nat him de law meck fah, / Soh beg
yu leggo me Jackass / An gi me pass, yaw sah [you hear, sir]."
guinea bird /gini bod/ n [DJE 1774, "obs"] African-born man or woman during and
after slavery time (disdainful) (still in use in song known to Kumina groups in St.
Thomas and to Maroons of Portland) 1971 Dalby 49 transcription of song by Ruth
Lindsay of Moore Town "which she said was originally sung by the [A]Shanti when,
trapped in the woods of Jamaica by the BAKRA (i.e. white man), they yearned to return
home. [Note] the reference of the singers to themselves as guinea birds. This latter term is
recorded in the [DJE] as an obsolete derogatory term to refer to African-born negroes
(with an illustrative quotation from the 18th century), whereas in Ruth Lindsay's song it
clearly retains a non-derogatory sense, reflecting also the fact that as guinea-birds (i.e.
domestic guinea fowl, restricted in flight) the Ashanti were unable to fly home to the
Guinea Coast. [Song:] 'O mi gini bod o, O mi gini bod e-e, Mi a gini bod o, Wi byan
[born] a gini kos i. ... Wi wan go hom e-e, Wi wan go hom o, Po' wi gini bod e.' "
guinea people /gini piipl/ n Jamaicans strongly identified with African ethnicity; hence
the Maroons (modern reference) (Contrasts with the sense of GUINEA- in other
compounds, GUINEA-GRASS, GUINEA-MAN, as 'born in Africa', 'brought from Africa', or
simply 'foreign', from which it evidently derives) 1952 Cassidy tape 6A-12, Reel 8b
street revival speaker in Highgate, St. Mary "Yu waan pie fi da myuzik ya, duo. Unu
hafi kiip somet'ing far de gini piipl-dem fi biit dem music, dem hafi go kot dem mesidj!"
['You should pay for this music. You have to contribute something to the Guinea People
for playing their music [or] they will have to cut their message!'] 1992 July Patrick tape
JC-R14b-40 young woman in Hanover, roadside fruit-seller of Indian extraction "The
older heads maybe, like the Guinea People them. A dem me tell you say woulda tell you
'bout de real Patwa. Dem black an' dem strong, dey live to old age. You find dem like all
Maroon Town and so."
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
hardback/(h)aadbak/ attrib Old, aged, elderly 1986 Senior 57 "First of all although
Miss Myrtella is a hardback woman by now she still slim like a young girl and she talk
in a little-little voice like she caan mash ants." Senior 130 "And everybody vex how
Miss Rilla take up with this Jiveman because they say how he was young and all this
time Miss Rilla was a hardback woman and she didnt have a good reputation for from
she small she always flirting with married men."
hinder /hinda, henda/ v Prevent the necessity of someone doing something 1966
Bennett 190 (poem "Me Bredda") "(pugnacious maidservant ... scare[s] a gullible
housewife into submission.) Me oversleep dis mornin, never / Wake till after eight, / Is a
taxi-cab me teck come yah / Fe hinder me from late." 1987 Sistren 223: "Mama friend
help her fi get a work at a guest house. She go help wash and iron. Dat Christmas when
she come home, she carry washing soap, toilet paper and bath soap to hinder her from
buy." (This is a distinct sense occurring in addition to the usual meaning of 'prevent,
obstruct' [OEDC sense 2, also HENDER in DJE]. Though not the common intransitive
meaning [OEDC sense 3], this use is less transitive: the object is not truly affected by the
verb but is merely the agent of an implicitly modal following clause. On the lowered
vowel, see DJE, xlviii.)
hours beat /owaz biit/ adv phr [hours + beat in sense 'gain, win'? DJE 34] 1: A long
time, hours gone by (used of continuous or durative actions which stretch over a long
time) 2: Late hour(s), evening or night (by extension of 1) 1987 Sistren 222: "Me sit
up wid Mama at home till she finish work. Hours beat she will bake potato pudding,
cornmeal pudding and she will carry out a school go sell, just fi we survive."
howil /howel, howil/ n [OEDC 1846] Cooper's plane with a round edge, used esp in
making canoes 1952 Cassidy tape 5A-40, Reel 7a, and 6B-14, Reel 9a boat builder
(since 1935), Port Maria in St. Mary, the son of a boat builder from Hanover "The rest
of wood that is left inside is to be taken out with a tool, whether the hadj or the howil.
One is used with two 'ands, a hadj, a lot of people knows what is a hadj. The 'owil is a
very handy bit of tool, it uses with one hand and cuts very clean, because it carries a
very nice clean edge. It's ben' [round], you can hew the boat from inside going around
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
i-nut, eye-nut /ai not/ n [oil /ail/ + nut] Ricinis communis, the castor-oil tree, or its
seed (In addition to its widely-known medicinal use as a purgative, Jamaicans use the
leaf in poultices and the oil in skin and hair treatment.) 1987 Sistren 26 "She used to
complain for gas. Her belly used to pain her and she used to cry for pain. She used to
use I-nut leaf on her head and pick di Sussumba leaf and tie it on her head wid some
Broadleaf." (same plant as OIL-NUT, from which the form is derived by vocalization of
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
jacket/jakit/ n 1: Man supporting a child he did not father; more generally, cuckold.
2: Child supported or acknowledged by a man who is not actually its father 1991
Watson 205 " 'Gi im a jacket' is the Jamaican euphemism used when a woman names
someone as the putative father of her child, when he really is not. It may also be
expressed that the child is a jacket, i.e., not the biological offspring of the 'father' who
ends up accepting responsibility for its needs." 1992 July 13 Patrick fieldnotes East
Kingston man, 35, explaining a public taunt (He helped support a child his ex-girlfriend
bore for another man) "Dem call out jacket becau' de jacket don't fit. De suit not your
own, but you wear it anyway; the baby not for you, but you ac' like de baby fadder."
(The sartorial metaphor is conventionally associated with this situation in Jamaica)
jenkoving /jengkoving/ n [etym unknown, DJE "obs exc hist", 1739 --> 1914] Musical
instrument made of a jar or gourd, played by covering and uncovering the mouth, causing
the air inside to vibrate 1981 Ryman 44 "Jenkoving ... documented and described in
the 18th century as a musical instrument made from an empty bottle or calabash, played
by slapping the hands over the open mouth." (quotes Sloane 1707, which describes but
does not name the instrument) 1984 Ryman 107 (reporting a 1983 interview, tape AC-
DR INT-K/9, with a musician and folklorist who studied a May River, St. Mary, Kumina
group) "a gourd jenkoving, described by Marjorie Whylie as being played by blowing
across the open end of the gourd". (Citations in DJE [1739, 1914] both report the
instrument as consisting of two jars over the mouths of which the player claps hands;
gourd version probably older.)
jenks /jengks/ n [< gentleman /jengklman/] 1: Gentleman; man of evident social status
or wealth; white or light-colored man (may be mocking or derogatory) 1992 July 13
Patrick fieldnotes poor residents of Jones Town to white visitor: "Jengks! Wha' g'wan,
jengks?" 2: Men's shoes in the style called loafers in US (Usage may be ironic [see
also JENGEH] as such shoes are said to be out of fashion in urban areas.) 1989 Nov
Patrick tape JC-U55a-14 high-school boy in Kingston, who also spent time in rural
Westmoreland (commenting on how rural dress lags behind urban styles) "Church-
looking pants, that's their idea of dressin' up. ... Real slick! and jenks, loafers. Some of
them still haven't got accustomed to using no socks; they still have socks and jenks, them
clip-clopping around in jenks. You know them when you see them."
jing-bang /jingbang/ n (The DJE entry for this pejorative word includes both singular
and group senses: 'low-class, noisy dirty person; rabble, riffraff'. Both senses of the
epithet occur in a popular song of 1952 denigrating Rastafarians, then shunned as pariahs
who had not yet emerged from the bottom of Jamaican society to claim international
attention.) 1952 Cassidy tape 1A-6, Reel 1a young man, sign-painter, of Lucea,
Hanover "To be a faithful Rasta jing-bang, / The hair on your head must be red and
long. / It was St. Thomas in the East, / The Rasta jing-bang made a big feast. / One man
grab Rasta jing-bang shirt, / Some jump fence and drop on dem goat. / The sweetest joke
you could ever see, / Is a Rasta jing-bang climb a pear-tree."
junga /jonga, junga/ n [DJE "rare"; only in sense 'a fishing lance'] Maroon throwing or
stabbing lance used for hunting wild boar 1952 Cassidy tape 7A-30, Reel 10a Maroon
man of Moore Town, Portland (describing hunting and trapping wild hogs and JERKing
their meat) "I draw out my junga and hit him in his side ... a junga, lance. Junga is about
[2 ft.] length, an' you put a stick on it. Stick is about 3, roun' 3 yards long. You throw it.
If [the boar] is very near to you, you hold it and kill it." 1981 Bilby 71-2 "Traditional
Maroon spear, made of a carefully sharpened metal blade attached to a long wooden
haft ... an object of pride and a symbol of Maroon identity used in Kromanti rituals".
junk /jongk/ v Cut into large pieces (The DJE entry has the sense of roughly chopping
or CHUNKing [OEDC].) 1952 Cassidy tape 8A-30, Reel 11b man in Prospect, St.
Thomas (telling folktale) "Anansi shouted aloud, 'Cut di rope, Muma!' ... And di mother
junk di rope in two, and Tiger drop at the tree-root." (Anansi's mother, mistakenly pulling
up the enemy Tiger in a basket to her tree home, is in too much haste to worry about
precision.) (As used by carpenters and boat-builders, however, JUNK may also imply
'cutting wood to precise lengths', as in the careful measuring and cutting of boat parts to
fine tolerances of less than an inch.) 1952 Cassidy tape 6B-13, Reel 9a boat-builder
(since 1935), Port Maria in St. Mary, the son of a boat builder from Hanover "[Cassidy:]
What do you mean by junking it? [Interviewee:] Cut the two ends to the exact length of
boat you want."
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
kananga water/kyananga waata/ n [poss < Kikongo kalunga '(Angolan) lake, sea, ocean',
Laman 1936, 207; but also in senses 'proper name' and 'in the depths, right at the bottom,
in the heart of the earth'. Cf. also Bettelheim (1979, 323), quoted in Ryman (1984, 84),
"kalunga is also the name of an underworld deity and/or the home of this God"] Type
of holy water used for purification in Revival ceremonies 1964 Patterson 141 male
church leader, Shepherd John, cleansing a sinful woman: " 'Bring de robe an' de cananga
water an' call de Water Mother'. The period of cleansing began with a purity bath.
[Shepherd John] sprinkled some of the cananga water over the room, then poured the rest
in the tub. Then the Water Mother came forward, helped her in the tub, and bathed her
from the neck downwards."
kimbembe /kimbembe/ [perh < Kikongo ki-mbembe 'proper name; village name', Laman
1936, 249; but also perh < king + BEMBE] Place or group-name that occurs in song
within Anansi folktales 1952 Cassidy tape 8B-27, Reel 12a man from Morant Bay, St.
Thomas (telling Anansi story) "[Anansi singing as he attempts to entice the King's lame
son to walk again] King-o, King-o, Kimbembe King, King son a shuffle down,
Kimbembe King" (This may be a reduction of King-bembe-King, with BEMBE again as a
rhythmic element whose original sense may now be lost. This would parallel the
reanalysis of Kikongo Ki-nzambi 'godhead', name of the chief deity invoked in Kumina
Country rituals, as King Zambi or Zambi Mpungu; see Ryman 1984, 84; Bilby 1994)
kiss-you-teeth /kis yu tiit/ v phr Refers to production of a sound expressing negative
affect, e.g. disrespect, displeasure, annoyance or scorn, as in Mind you kiss you
teeth afta me again-- fiesti pikni! 'Don't dare kiss your teeth at me again, impudent
child!' (author's own usage) (The sound has two phonetically distinct realizations: a
palatal or post-alveolar click, either of which may be drawn out into a fricative, and a
labio-dental fricative; both are labelled and interpreted the same way by Jamaicans. The
phenomenon is found throughout the African diaspora with similar uses and meanings
[Rickford & Rickford 1976]. The term kiss-you-teeth, or sometimes hiss-you-teeth, refers
to the same action as CHUPS, sometimes spelled steups, and SUCK-TEETH but has not been
found in print [though quite common, indeed the usual form, in North Coast speech
during the 1960s-1970s].)
krebe-krebe /krebe krebe/ attrib [perh < KREBE n in sense 2, 'old worn-out or useless
stuff'] Damaged; wrinkled; otherwise MASH-UP. 1987 Sistren 158 (of a foot that had
been hit with a stone, cut, bruised, and discolored) "Someting do me foot. It did have a
blueish ugly colour and di spot weh me get di lick did wrinkle up. ... 'Look how me skin
pretty and clear and look pon dis krebe-krebe foot.' "
kumu-kumu /kumu kumu/ attrib [perh < Hausa kumu 'waiting for', Abraham and Kano
1949, 553; or < Kikongo kumu 'vocal expression of displeasure, repugnance'; also
'disobedience, lack of respect, insubordination', Laman 1936, 334] Cowardly, diffident,
tentative. 1990 Jan Patrick tape JC-U78a-36 man, 24, from Pepper, St. Elizabeth
(speaking of a situation where he and co-workers at a supermarket were unable to band
together to demand overtime pay) "Dey won' go to de man-dem an' put dem under
pressure at once, everybody coward, dis one kumu-kumu. ... Dat mean to say, you talkin',
and you 'fraid fi go to dem, you just go-an'-draw-back business, so we just call it kumu-
kumu." (See also Bilby and Fu-Kiau [1983, 75] who offer KiKongo kumu 'meter;
melody; rhythm; to play a musical instrument' as an etymon for KUMINA.)
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
livity/liviti/ n [live + -ity nom suffix] Livelihood; living (Rastafarian term; implies a
stronger sense of purpose or vocation in life than English equivalents but includes
subsistence) 1992 July 18 Patrick tape JC-R4b-28 Rastafarian cane-cutter, 43 (speaking
of economic opportunities he would like to see in his region of eastern St. Thomas) "It
would have to really find some ways of achieving something, whether to work it or get it
freely, whether skill or educated or livity. A dat me no know, if i' a better livity."
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
main-buoy, man-buoy/mien-bui, man-bui/ n Types of fishing buoy, used with fish-
pots. 1952 Cassidy tape 10B-30, Reel 15b fisherman and boat-maker of Frenchman, St.
Elizabeth "We have one buoy, we call it a man-buoy. Now that buoy keep the scope
[line] from de pot down dere upright, so dat de scope might have no slack, because de
scope get any slack it goes down in de rock. An de pot would cut off-- de rock will cut
off de pot, cut de rope and de pot wi gone. Den we have anadda buoy, which we call dat
a main-buoy, da's a floating buoy. At times de current will come an you don't see de
man-buoy, but you always have a chance to find de pot by de main-buoy, caus' is a
floating buoy. You came up to de main-buoy an take in dat in de boat, then you go up
again until you came to the man-buoy, an you take up dat an put in de boat. Den you
draw de pots now. We keep dat [man-]buoy upright all de time. A part of it down in de
water, while de part standing up. You can stay any distance and saw dat buoy standin.
When you keeps dat man-buoy upright all de time, if [ships] even take off de main-buoy,
you liable to find de pot by de man-buoy." (For scope, see OEDC sb. 2, sense 11; a
nautical term for an anchor-cable.)
man-and-man /man an man/ n People in general; the majority of people 1989 Sept 16
Daily Gleaner letter to the editor from Mr. E. T., Woodcarver: "Man and man no really
like the system in Cuba because man want to be free. But I don't see anything wrong
with us having diplomatic ties. I think such relations will be fruitful for both countries if
neither tries to impose his philosophy on the other." 1992 July 18 Patrick tape JC-R3a-
30 East Kingston man, 28 "Dem team up, an man-an-man know man." ['They team up,
and people all know each other.'] (Construction X-an-X may be generally extended for a
generic reading as in youth-an-youth 'young people', gun-an-gun 'guns'.)
masa, massa (dumpling) /maasa/ n [ < Sp masa 'dough, paste'] Flour, or dumpling,
made from bitter cassava 1952 Cassidy tape 11A-6, Reel 15b young woman of
Frenchman, St. Elizabeth, who grows cassava and makes flour, starch, BAMMY, and
tapioca from it "We cut [the cassava] up in little pieces an' den soak dem in water, an'
put dem out to dry. An' after dey dry now, we beat dem again in de maata [mortar] an'
sieve dem. And dat, after we get dat powder now we call dat a masa. We take it now
an' put flour with it an', mek dumplin'. An' it's very nice. ... Masa dumplin'."
massive/masiv, masif/ n [perh < Fr massif, n. masc., in sense 'clump (of flowers, trees)']
1: Social group of peers, etc. (see POSSE) 1989 Nov 13 Patrick tape JC-U44b-21 man,
28, East Kingston, born in Clarendon (discussing a fight during schooldays) "Mi see de
man drop now, an ... de way I get frighten I turn back down de road, an fi-im massive jus
come behind me. Dem a come, you know but I can run! I run more dan dem." 2: Urban
gang, sometimes violent or criminal 1992 July 18 Patrick tape JC-R3a-43 man, 28,
East Kingston (telling story of well-known 1970s outlaw planning an escape from jail)
"Di las' lock-up, 'im massive come fi 'im a court if 'im neva win de case. Dem come fi
free 'im. A pure gunman come fi 'im-- dat a fi-'im massive." ['Last time he was in jail,
his gang-members came to court to free him, in case he didn't win the case. Nothing but
gunmen [sitting in court that day] on his side-- that was his gang.'] 1995 Gunst 88
retired leader of Tel Aviv posse from Central Kingston "Before there was Tel Aviv ...
the big massive here in Central was the Max gang, an that was my tribe. 'Massive' is jus
another word for a gang." (See for both senses CREW, POSSE; but massive is not found in
US African American vernacular.)
mek fun fi [Verb], mek joke fi [Verb]/mek fon fi, mek juok fi/ neg v phr 1: Barely,
narrowly miss (do)ing 1989 Oct Patrick fieldnotes man, 30s, West Kingston taxi-
driver (of a car passing dangerously) "A didn mek juok fi lick im! ['I nearly hit him!']"
2: Intensifies the force of a proposition 1958 June 17 DeCamp tape 4A-27, Reel 14b
yam farmer at Ginger Piece (describing how he labored to bring a piece of land to yield)
"I didn mek fun fi wok di lan. A wok di lan, a wok di lan, a wok di lan, di wos wie!
bwai. ['I really worked that piece of land, no joke... I worked the land, I worked the land
the worst way! boy.']" 1966 Bennett 138-9 (poem "Sarah Chice") "(A polling clerk in
the course of his duty gets told off-- TRACED-- by a woman ...) Hear de ole bwoy,
'Ooman don't show / Yuh lack of education, / De law demands dat yuh tell me / Yuh
name an occupation.' / See yah mah, me tempa bwile up / An ah halla 'Bwoy, kirout!' /
An ah never meck fun fe gi him / De full lengt' o' me mout. ['I certainly gave him a piece
of my mind!']."
mek grong /mek grong/ v phr [< make + ground] Till, prepare soil for cultivation;
plough, harrow 1958 June DeCamp tape 4A, Reel 14a elderly man of Belmont,
Portland (telling Anansi story) "[Anansi] form a law ina him country once dat everybody
dat FAST [meddle] in anodda one business mus' get hurt. But accordin' to him, him
supposed to get dem fi eat. So him go up on a rock-top once an say, well den, 'im gwain
mek grong, becau' him know people mus' fass wid him. So while he was dere workin, as
you pass on you say, 'Hi! Bredda Anansi, wha you a do up de?' Hear: 'Me nah do
someting an see if me cyan get anyting out a it fi me wife an pickney-dem?' "
myamaid, mermaid /maiamied, mormied, mamied/ n [< mermaid, but perh also < MYAL
+ -maid] Mermaid,RIVER-MAID or -MUMMA; see also SEA-MAHMY (River deity with long
straight hair (and often fair skin) who lives in deep springs and blue holes, can appear as
a fish, and may be given feasts by Revivalists, either annually or in times of drought.
Banbury [1893, in DJE 383] notes "mial songs and dances were done for [the Rubba
Mama].") 1991 Aug 6 Payne-Jackson tape AD-032a-26 man, 35, herbal healer from
Woodside, a community in St. Mary known for mermaid sightings and religious
ceremonies "I cyan tell you somet'ingNATURAL about myamaid. ... She saw dis little
brown woman, in de water. ... Pretty little white woman sit up on top of de rock,
combing 'er hair, an de 'air was tall. She was very frighten because it looks like a baby,
de size, but it look like a woman in de face. She run an shout out, an she 'eard when de
mermaid took off in de wata. [People said] she should neva come out an tell it to de
public, she should keep it to 'erself, an den de mermaid would dream 'er an give 'er
somet'ing. ... It was natural about 'er seein de mermaid-- da's not a story." (The usual
reflexes of ME [3r] are JC /o/, /or/, and sometimes /er/, e.g. /ton/ 'turn', and /form/ along-
side /ferm/ 'fern'; but several words have yielded /aa/, sometimes with palatalization of the
initial, as /fyaan/ 'fern', /saach/ 'search', and /naavis/ 'nervous'. See also DJE, lii-liii.)
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
natural/nachral/ attrib, adv True, genuine, not false; not imaginary or unreal; not part of
a dream or vision; physically existent 1991 Aug 2 Payne-Jackson tape AD-032a-36 man, 35,
St. Mary herbal healer (relating experiences with water spirits, MYAMAID) "This is not Anansi
story-- this is natural." Aug 6 Payne-Jackson tape AD-032a-26 quot SV MYAMAID Aug 9 Payne-
Jackson tape AD-035a-25 man, 63, healer of same district (describing how a man he knew
received the gift of healing directly from a particular MYAMAID who chose him)
"[Payne-Jackson:] Did she come to him in a dream? [Interviewee:] Natural! natural. [P-J:]
Just natural? [Interviewee:] Natural. ... See him natural, talk to him natural." 1992 July 18
Patrick tape JC-R4b-42 laborer, 43, St. Thomas (attributing his own illness to the influence
of a duppy, declares) "Duppy-- a de natural someting fi true, man!" ['Duppies-- really exist
for sure, man!']
(top) notch /nach/ n [perh < notch on gun barrel for each man killed, in Western films]
Gunman who holds a high place in the hierarchy of a POSSE (usually attained by killing
one or more people; commonly used with special reference to gunmen employed in
politics in early 1980s; see RANKIN) 1989 Sept 6 Patrick tape JC-U22a-27 quot SV
RANKIN Nov 1 Patrick tape JC-U38b-15 man, 45, long-time grass-roots political worker
in East Kingston "[Politicians] will have dem political men-dem, you cyan' get too close
to dem. ... Is like a bodyguard. Six-seven, a dozen o' we-- is de top man-dem, we t'row a
ring roun' you-- notch, top notch, or rankin. Whe' dem want you fi go is whe' you go."
1995 Gunst 148 "When you is a don, inna your work, a youth might hear some lickle
joke pon you. And without you even tell him to go an' kill the joker, he will jus' do it,
jus' fi big-up himself in your eyes. Jus' fi mek himself into a notch."
nuff /nof/ adj [DJE < nof adj 'many, plentiful', comp & super 'more, most'] Haughty,
supercilious, full of oneself 1989 Nov 12 Patrick tape JC-U45b-21 young Kingston
woman, 24 "Everybody cyan't stand C. Him used to be nuff dat time, plenty, 'im want to
be involve in anyt'ing an' everyt'ing. He knows everyt'ing. Me no like dose type of
people." (often defined in terms of another pejorative, STOOSH)
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
panna/panna/ n [DJE has PANYA, sb2 and adj, < Spaniard] "A person, especially a girl,
who always wants to dance and never misses an opportunity to do so; carries a faint
connotation of disapproval, implying lack of seriousness" (DJE, citing "1958 DeCamp,
Port") 1958 June DeCamp tape 4A-5, Reel 14a elderly woman of Bangor Ridge,
Portland in the Blue Mountains (telling "Anansi story, old-time joke" begins:) "A girl
used to go to dance every night, /haz a panna/ h'out to dance. Go out de las' night now,
go meet a ring o' duppy. Set roun' a ring, begin to dance. She dance! she dance! til
twelve o'clock come, JUMBY wan' go home. [Duppy wants to go home, taking her along;
her relatives refuse to intervene, and she gets the fright of her life.] ... An' from dat night,
'im neva go to no more dance again." (Pronunciation of the word is /panna/, not
/panya/, with firm stress and no palatalization.)
pass-by /paas-bai/ n [ < pass-er + by] Passer-by; stranger; a sinister figure in folklore
(sometimes a duppy, spirit, or devil) 1958 Nov 21 DeCamp tape 4B-33, Reel 23b
elderly man of Belmont, Portland (tells a cautionary duppy-story about a young woman
named Edith who is too ready to go out at night with a strange man) "An im fala han
antil paas-bai paan im. Debil paan im." ['And she went on til pass-by grabbed her. The
Devil took her.'] ... [song refrain:] "Mi dieres breda, mi don. Oh mi dieres breda, mi don.
Paas-bai tiek mi tinait." ("My dearest brother, I'm done for, pass-by take me tonight.")
(PAWN = 'seize, grasp'.)
penetrate /penichriet/ v Comprehend, understand, esp through meditation, study or
reasoning (a Rastafarian term) 1982 Pollard 31: "penetrate admire, search for truth"
1992 July 18 Patrick tape JC-R4b-35 Rastafarian cane-cutter, male, 43 of St. Thomas
(asked to tell an Anansi folk-tale, he comments that his repertoire is partial because he
never learned some of them thoroughly enough to perform) "Cho, som a dem mi riili--
mi jos nat penichriet som a dem. ... A iivn shi da riili penichriet it di rait wie, a stil mi no
so it go, yu no." ['Oh, some of them I really-- I just didn't get some of them. ... Whether
she really understood it the right way, I still know that's how it went, y'know.']
posse /pasi/ n [ < pasiero, DJE 'good friend, companion'; < Sp pasajero (Pg passageiro),
'traveller, passenger; shipmate'. Perh reinforced in sense 2 below by Amer posse 'armed
group of men', < Lat posse comitatus] 1: Social group-- typically males-- of peers,
friends, associates, esp in or from youth, schooldays (Such a group may share styles of
dress, hair, music, and speech; attend or participate in sporting events and parties
together; and often come from the same school or neighborhood.) 1989 Sep 24 Patrick
tape JC-U33a-22 university-educated, professional, middle-class family "[M, age 23:] In
my time, a group of us would be a posse. [J, 22, sister:] Yeh, I agree with that. [M:] Now
the word gets a different connotation, but posse would be just a group like, going to
school, you had a few of us from around here, and we'd all kinda stick together. We
didn't actually give ourselves that name, but somebody seeing us out there would say,
'Oh, you's one a the guys from the KC posse.' [A, 60, father:] What I thought about the
posse business, when I was younger we used to say well, 'That's my PASIERO, that's
my friend.' I didn't know that it had any other meaning to it, but it look like they change
it. [Patrick:] It seem to mean 'bad man' now? [All Inf:] Yeh, yes." 1989 Nov 13 Patrick
tape JC-U44b-19 man, 28, East Kingston, born in Clarendon (discussing a fight during
school-days) "Going up dere now to pick guineps, an' I saw dis [boy named] Maaga
Lion now an', call it fi-im likkle posse dat, comin' down" ("...I saw ML and, call it his
little gang, comin' down") 2: Urban gang, sometimes violent or criminal 1995 Gunst
32: "The current hit was by a group called Blood Fire Posse, and the song was titled
'Every Posse Get Flat'. I had to ask one of my students what a posse was. 'Well,' she
smiled, 'it's like your crew, your friends. Or a gang. You know-- it comes from the
westerns." Gunst 147: "The Renkers was never a posse like S's shower massive. You
see, posse is a political thing. When you say posse, is like you 'ave a drugs bizness goin'
on in America, an so you send for your political affiliates. All the original posses have
them political links." (Sense 2 seems to have spread to US African-American
vernacular: "Posse: associates, friends; one's social group. Also crew, clique,"
Smitherman, 1994, 184; see also CREW, MASSIVE, SET.)
prove /pruuv/ v [OEDC sense I.1 "archaic"] Make trial of, try, put to the test (often
used in scriptural and/or argumentative context) 1952 Cassidy tape 8A-39, Reel 11b
man from Prospect, St. Thomas (telling Anansi story in which two characters both claim
to have carried a load of timber from the river, in order to win the King's daughter)
"King say, 'Den how you say is you cyarry de timbah, an Anansi say is him cyarry de
timbah? Anyway, come in, I gwain to prove de fact today.' Wel, Breda King tie Anansi,
an' 'im gwain to prove di fack. 'Im kyatch Grassy Bod ... an' 'im fix up Breda Grassy
Bod. 'Im say to 'im dat 'im gwain prove de fack, because de timbah is to go in de
kitchin." 1989 July 7 Patrick tape JC-U1b-1 & 13 man, 70, retired dental technician
and teacher from St. Ann "Now you who are different, if you are different-- it's going to
prove-- you can't contribute to those things. ... If me tell you now dat I have never known
a kyarismatic leader yet dat was ever a great statesman, an' we go prove it 'pon JBC
[-TV]-- 'gains' de professors."
push-work /push-wok/ n Sporadic, irregular employment, esp on an estate where work is
intense but seasonal 1952 Cassidy tape 2B-16, Reel 3b older man, blacksmith/carpenter
on Trelawny estate "Well, the carpenters, we employ them; and when we have push-
work, we kep' them on until that pushing of work finish, and then we lay them off. ...
When we don't have the work, then we lay off this week, an' we take on the h'other one;
we take off that one, and we give the other one a week, jus' like that."
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
ragamuffin/ragamofin/ n [F&W 'child wearing very ragged clothes'] Poor youth from
the ghetto, with rebellious attitude; juvenile delinquent 1995 Gunst 144: "Brown was
pure ragamuffin, as Jamaicans put it-- a sufferer born and bred in the ghetto." Gunst 164:
"'Even the youngest youth comin out of Jamaica, he might never have held a gun,' C.
said, 'but if you put him in a situation where he's threatened, he's gonna retaliate in a way
that's real cold, like a ragamuffin.' "
rankin (top); ranks /tap rangkin, rangks/ n, attrib 1: Person of significant power,
connections, or affluence, esp in a poor or ghetto community 1982 Pollard 31: "high
ranking a leader" 1987 Sistren 178: "At each of dose squatter community, di
government always put one standpipe, and yuh go a di pipe fi catch water. If yuh is a
ranks livin in di area, yuh can run a pipe from di standpipe to yuh yard. A ranks is a
person who advance in a sense more dan some-- or dem might be from a family living
dere a long time." 2: Gunman who holds a high place in the hierarchy of aPOSSE (see
NOTCH) 1989 Sept 6 Patrick tape JC-U22a-27 man, 32, East Kingston (on 1980
election violence) "I got really involved as one of the senior guys in de area, I was what,
about 23, I had a big say. We were dubbed as like generals: 1st general and 2nd general,
and rankin and notch-- those were de name given to guys who run de area--DONS, and
y'know?" 1995 Gunst 91: "One paladin had emerged as the area leader: a top-ranking
tribalist named 'Red Tony'. ... [He] was the don of Concrete Jungle." Gunst 219: "the
funeral of a gunman named Natty Morgan, a ranking from the sprawling shantytown of
Riverton City" Gunst 244: "You cannot be a ranking on the street without a gun."
response /rispans/ attrib [Back-formation < respons-ible] (Be) responsible, as in A mi
rispans fi dat 'I am responsible for that' (author's own usage) 1987 Sistren 78: "Being
a madda meself so young, me never enjoy it. Yuh haffi sidung deh wid dat pickney from
him come out, from him face di earth and yuh haffi dedicate yuhself to dat child and
notten more else. Yuh have no freedom fi go up and down unless yuh have smaddy fi
keep dat pickney deh. Yuh just siddung wid yuh pickney and if anyting happen a yuh
response." Sistren 84: "At di estate di children gather up di pimento and carry it come
to di women. Di women pick off di grain and full up di kerosene tin. Me stepmadda
could shell fast. When yuh shelling, di estate don't response fi lunch. Yuh can go in
anytime and do yuh wuk and when yuh have di amount yuh carry it uppa di big yard."
roast /ruos/ [Perh <ROAST COCO or PLANTAIN, DJE in sense 'make secret preparations,
scheme, plot'] 1: v Moonlight; earn money in illegal, unethical, sneaky, corrupt or
clever manner (e.g., use one's employer's tools on a job of one's own, do one's own work
on employer's payroll hours, or both) 1990 Feb 2 Patrick tape JC-U83a-35, JC-U83b-9,
& JC-U83b-11 two building trades artisans, CP, 29, and MT, 26, East Kingston: "[CP:]
You see roas now, roas is like, you workin' at di company an' you do your business
inside a di company, wi' di company material, di company line an everyting. [MT:] A
roas you a roas de-so. [Then you're roasting.] ... De nice ting 'bout it, dat yu don' have
no ovaheads. You no really haffi gi' back none a you money to nobody still, you no
see't? No haffi pay no tax on dem. A di sweetes' paht 'bout di money still, man.
Everyt'ing you collec' is your own, das why de man cyaan' stop roas. ... You see, when a
man a roas, ina my field den, for argument sake, I cyaan' afford fi tek a big job an roas
it, I gi' de company dat. But any small job whe' money de pan, I tek it an do it." 2: n
Sideline; source of income, earned as in sense 1 1989 Nov 21 Daily Gleaner quotsv
RUNNINGS1990 Feb 2 Patrick tape JC-U83b-11 "[MT:] But him realize se from him
cyan get a man pan de side do it, a man cyan always do it cheapah. And is de same man
dat woulda normally do him legal job, a dem man-de a do it. [CP:] An it probably do
bettah! Cau' when a man a do him roas, him work harder dan wen him-- [MT:] --Right.
Anytime a man do a roas, him like fi know se bwoy, him cyan gi you someting."
runnings /roninz/ n Ways and means; methods of accomplishing a goal; insider
knowledge 1989 Nov 21 Daily Gleaner letter to the editor containing fictional dialogue
between a foreign investor and an applicant for a political patronage job "[Foreign
Investor:] Mr. Brown, let me be frank. You can neither read nor write. How can you
claim to be so experienced? You were a foreman on road constructions and repairs;
overseer on a bridge construction, and you even had a contract to build a school!
[Applicant:] A serious ting boss, you have fi know runnings. [FI:] Runnings? But how
could you have done all that? Surely that requires reading, writing, negotiations, planning
and all that? [A:] As mi sey boss, a jus' runnings. My MP always set mi up, jus like
how him send mi here so. Him jus recommend me and mi hold a littleROAST. Him nah
mek me suffer.' By this time the FI 'knew the runnings' and his workforce grew by one."
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
satta/sata/ vi [ < Amharic sat't'a 'give, grant, provide, accord' Leslau 1976, 59; see
SATTA MASSAGANA] Stay, remain, wait, patiently and tranquilly; take no action 1979
Lloyd Lovindeer recording Ride Ride Ride "No dreadie, we naw run. ... Satta, dreadie,
Hang on in deh. ... Manners up yourself, satta with me, meSPAR." 1982 Pollard 36:
"satta relax; stay where you are; keep calm; stay on, stay put; rest; quiet" 1987 Sistren 178:
"Sometime yuh cyaan leave, cause yuh no have noweh fi go, so yuh just haffi satta."
satta massagana /sata masagana/ v phr [ < Amharic sat't'a, seeSATTA, + amasaggana
'thank, be grateful, praise, glorify' Leslau 1976, 25] Give thanks (Rastafarian speech)
1969 Song by The Abyssinians "Satta Massagana" "Satta amassagana ahamlack,
Ulaghize." 1991 Adams 61: "Sata: a verb, from Amharic? In Rasta patois, it means
'to rejoice, to meditate, to give thanks and praise'." 1993 D. Manning, writer of "Satta
Massagana," interview, Heartbeat HB-120 notes: "Satta massagana means 'Give Thanks.'"
scandal bag /skyandal bag/ n Lightweight, often colorful, plastic shopping bag used in
markets, shops and supermarkets; as in Im tief oot di sinting oot a mi skyandal bag! 'He
stole the stuff right out of my shopping bag!' (author's own usage)
science /saiyans/ vt [DJE has sb in sense "=obeah"] Affect someone or something,
generally in a harmful way, by supernatural means; workOBEAH or witchcraft on them
1989 Nov 5 Daily Gleaner criminal trial report "In answer to the Police he said, 'A no
mi tief mi madda hag an mi madda cow, so dem shouldn sciance mi.' ['I didn't steal my
mother's pig and cow, so they shouldn't have worked witchcraft on me.'] The
complainant, Sonia W., took the witness stand. But 'Mother Coolie' continued: 'A no mi
tief mi madda hag an mi madda cow, so dem shouldn' obeah mi. Mi ded an bury an dem
dig mi up. Mi no know whey dem dig mi up fah yu know.' ['I was dead and buried and
they dug me up. I don't know what they dug me up for, y'know.']"
seen /siin/ prt [ < seen?] Affirmative particle which may either serve as an affirmation,
a full question, or a tag question (Rastafarian term) 1992 July 18 Patrick tape JC-R4b-
34 Rastafarian cane-cutter, male, 43, of St. Thomas (recalling use of the British currency
system) "[Interviewee:] An' we call, an' we call twenty-five cent one crown-- [Patrick:]
One crown, yeh [Interviewee:] Seen, dat you call twenty-five cent we call crown." ["Yes,
..."] Patrick tape JC-R4b-43 (relating a miraculous healing by extraction, which unlike
surgery left no scar) "An' afta it come out y'know, me no see nowhe' whe' it cut, an' a
three days straight de place burn me... Seen, suh?" ["... Isn't it so?", or "... Do you
understand?"] Patrick tape JC-R5a-11 (coda to interview) "So me 'ave lickle experience
of me lickle poor country, seen?" ["..., right?"]
serve a sauce /serv a saas/ v phr Retaliate in kind, strike back, give someone their
come-uppance 1952 Cassidy tape 4A-33, Reel 5b young man, painter/artisan of
Lucea, Hanover (telling story of "Big and Little Klaus", in which Big Klaus is constantly
tricked by his cleverer brother, Little Klaus) "People drive [Big Klaus] out a town an
beat him up. Big Klaus come homeBEX ['angry']. Him se alright, him gwain serve Lickle
Klaus a sauce. Him set up fi Lickle Klaus one night se wel, 'im gwain kill im." 1966
Bennett 42 (poem "Registration" and comments) "(The Jamaica Federation of Women
campaigns against bachelor fatherhood. ...) For it big eena newspapa / Sey ooman
Federation / Dah-pass law fe all fada name / Go dung pon registration! / Lawd a massi,
me feel happy! / For me glad fe see at las' / Ooman dah-mek up dem mine fe / Serve
back man dem sour sauce!" (Poem probably dates from late 1940s.)
set /set/ n 1: Social group of peers (F&W senses 1-2) 1989 Nov 12 Patrick tape
JC-U45b-21, 24 young Kingston woman, 24: "All my friends were jus' like me, do de
same thing. We used to walk in a group, we use to comb a certain hair-style. ... We form
a little group, an' we do things together. ... Jus' a set." 2: Urban gang, sometimes violent
or criminal 1989 Nov 1 Patrick tape JC-U38a-14 East Kingston man, 45 (on urban
crime) "You have a set where dey call demself de Hot Steppers. ... Dey were a criminal
gyang, dey made up a lots a wanted men an' all." (SeeCREW, MASSIVE, POSSE)
shape /shiep/ v Feint; pretend to do something, in a joking way; try, attempt something;
make the first motion towards doing something; as in the boyhood taunt You shape! You
too shape! 'You're faking! You're just pretending [to do the thing they were being dared
to do]' (author's own usage) 1958 June DeCamp tape 4A-9, Reel 14a elderly man of
Belmont, Portland (relating true-life account of being menaced by a mysterious beast)
"[DeCamp:] Did you run pretty fast to get away that time? [Interviewee:] No, I wasn' far
far from home. But you see, I wasn' coward. An' as it never shape after me or
anything..." (= /shiep afta mi/; see DJESHAPE UP TO).
shub /shub/ v [ < shove] Shove; push around. 1972 Richard HoLung song "Freedom
Cry": "Daniel, nowan de go shub yu, yu work in time."
skank /skyangk/ v [etymology unknown, but see DJE skengay for sense 2] 1: Steal
(typically small amounts); cheat; deceive 1979 Bob Marley song "Top Rankin": "Top
RANKIN, are you skankin? / Top rankin, are you fooling one another, / When you say you
wanna come together? Top rankin, did you mean what you say now? Are you skankin?"
1989 Dec 9 Patrick tape JC-U61a-24 Kingston-born woman of 32 (describing childhood
with grandmother in rural St. Catherine, tells of stealing change from her grandmother's
shop) "So, me now used to skank a likkle t'ruppence and so from the shop, tief-tief a
little t'ruppence and so." 2: Suggestive popular dance to reggae and rub-a-dub music.
1970s late, Neville Livingston song "Roots Man Skankin" (describing a late-night dance
session) "Dis-ya rubadub rankin, / It sure got you jumpin, / An' de DJ's roun de wailin, /
An' de roots man skyankin, / See de roots man skyankin all night long."
skull /skol/ vt [prob < skulk, OEDC 3a sense 'to shun, keep away from, avoid, in a
skulking manner'] Skip (school), play hooky; deliberately fail to attend to duties 1987
Sis 225 "Everyday when dem gimme di whole heap a clothes fi wash, miTIEF way go a
Barnett River. Duckie, Cherry, Alma and Sonia skull school and come wid me. We carry
lickle someting fi eat from we yard." (DJE, underSCULL, refers definition to entry skol,
which is not to be found.)
smalls /smaalz/ n Cash gift or bribe, usu a small amount of money, to be 'let off' by the
giver. 1987 Sistren 124: "Somebody collect di pay an give di supervisor a smalls. Plenty a
(dem) were corrupt". Sistren 189: "Di day di truck come fi move me tings, Bigger come
round and say, 'Wah happen? Yuh a move?' Me say, 'Yeah.' 'Den let [hand out] off a
smalls, no!' Me let off a smalls and me move. Me hear when Pearlette ready fi move, di
one Bigger hold up di truck and rob it."
soul basket /suol baaskit/ n Physical home or receptacle of the soul, carrier of life in the
human body; seat of emotions 1992 July 18 Patrick tape JC-R4b-43 Rastafarian cane-
cutter, male, 43, of St. Thomas (praising the Maroon woman who cured hisBIGFOOT)
"[Patrick:] So she's a- a healer woman? [Interviewee:] Yes man, and a she mek me cyan
talk to you now man, God bless 'er every time man, 'er soul basket may neva h'empty,
man. I respec' 'er to de bone, man, to de eart' whe' she walk, man."
soul case /suol kies/ nSOUL BASKET 1966 Bennett 65 (poem "Six Nil," describing
the impact of the Jamaican national football team's overwhelming 1947 loss to Trinidad;
Bennett's narrator attributes it to poor eating habits of the players) "But wen it come to
football, careful! / How yuh tumble dung! / For is hard fe run an dribble, wid / Yuh
belly pon de grung! / Me feel it to me soul-case, for / Me know wha meck dem fall, /
Dem bwoy naw pay attention to / DemDUCKOONOO an saal."
spar /spaa(r)/ n [perh < sparring partner] Good friend, companion (almost always used
male-to-male, often as address form; alternates withSTAR in very similar use); as in Yes
spar!; Whap'm spar?; Mi an im a spar, move togedda. (author's own usage) 1977 Lloyd
Lovindeer song: "SATTA with me, me spar ... blood brothers we are." 1982 Pollard 32:
"spar friend; platonic friend". 1990 Feb 2 Patrick tape JC-U83b-5 East Kingston man,
26, building subcontractor "Yu afa kanchuol shi mek shi nuo se shi a yu brejrin, shi jos
gi yu a maasta kii an se, 'Spaa, yu kanchuol da ruum ya'. " ['You have to be on good
terms with her so she knows she's like family to you, then she'll just give you a master
key and say, 'Friend, you're in charge of that room there.']" 1992 July 29 Patrick tape
JC-R14a-44 cane-cutter and cultivator, 54, Barbican in Hanover "See, all when de
duppy-dem a come fi hurt you, y'know spar, a so dem do, y'know star."
speakin and spokin /spiikin an spuokin/ v phr TalkingSPEAKY-SPOKY
speaky-spoky/spiiki spuoki/ n, attrib Speech style available only to native speakers of
Jamaican Creole (A type of qualitative hyper-correction, speaky-spoky talk involves a
few salient, prestigious sociolinguistic variables-- insertion of word-initial /h-/, substitution
of rounded vowel /O/ for all low vowels-- which are not part of JC but recognizably
belong to foreign standard varieties of English. Often negatively evaluated in social terms,
talking speaky-spoky signals the intention to speak "proper English", and represents a
linguistic claim to higher social status than the speaker's native JC normally implies. It is
widely available to JC speakers, whatever their command of the standard, and often,
though not always, defined through the presence of "mistakes" in the attempted standard
variety [see Patrick and McElhinny 1993] and "big words.") 1952 Cassidy tape 4B-11,
Reel 6a middle-aged woman from Port Maria, St. Mary (recites popular poem, probably
by Louise Bennett) "This is about some of the people who travel in Jamaica. 'You h'ever
siddung or tan up / On bus, tramcyar or train, / An' watch de people comin on / An' goin
off, Miss Jane? / You h'ever hear some deh cut bad talk / While some deh speaky-spoke /
An' watch dem face an' how dem gwan? / Well, is de bigges' joke.'" 1966 Bennett 164-5
(poem "Big Wuds") "Wat a way yuh elevated! / Gal, is wha yuh chattin bout? /
Nowadays is so-so big wud / Dah-fly outa fe yuh mout! / Oh, is newspapa yuh readin /
Meck yuh speaky-spoky so!" 1986 Senior 32 (story "Ascot) "So finally Mama say in
her best speaky-spokey voice, 'Would you like a bite to eat? ... Yes'm, Hascot is de
heldes but is not de same fader.' " Senior 58-63 (story "Real Old-Time Ting") "Patricia
always there passing word about Myrtella. ... How she don't have no class. How she can't
speak properly. ... [But people] getting to love Miss Myrtella too for once you get use to
her speaky-spoky ways you find out that she have a heart of gold inside. 'Ho, Cousin
Orris,' [Myrtella] call out. Horace is Papa Sterling first name. 'Oi dont know wot to do hit
his so howful to be ha woman holl holone hin this worl Cousin Orris.' "
star /staa(r), schaa(r)/ n SPAR 1982 Pollard 32: "star guys; men" 1989 Sept 1 Daily
Gleaner "As one young man about 18 years old who was walking ahead of me said, ...
'A that a music. ... A music mi a defend, star!' " 1992 July 29 Patrick tape JC-R14a-44
cane-cutter and cultivator, 54, Barbican in Hanover "See, all when the duppy-dem a
come fi hurt you, y'know spar, a so dem do, y'know star. Go up like dat, y'know star,
you do like dat y'know, star you know? [makes karate-like motions with arms and legs]"
stoosh /stush/ attrib [cf DJE stoshus] Haughty, supercilious; pretentious; overly proud
(now mostly pejorative, but see earlier positive senses of STOSHUS; note that they were
rural, while citations below are urban) 1989 Aug 28 Daily Gleaner letter to the Editor
"In the Flair magazine of Monday July 17, GW made mention of Ziggy Marley's patois
accent and noted the difficulties that his fans were having in understanding whatever was
being said by their reggae star. May I say that I also have noticed this and though I do
understand what is said, I often wonder why he goes to the extreme. I do hope Ziggy
does not take bad heart to this fact but will try and do something about it. We don't want
him to talk 'stoosh'-- God forbid!-- or with any foreign 'okcent', but simply to speak
comprehensive [sic] English-- bearing in mind that he is not doing this to impress
anyone, but simply to let his fans understand." 1989 Nov 12 Patrick tape JC-U45b-14 &
19 young Kingston woman, 24 "I can write perfect English, but den you cyaan' talk
perfect English to Jamaicans, dey say you stoosh! [laughs] Dey say you stoosh so
sometime you find yourself goin from one place to de odda, you are not stable. ...
[English] sound too decent. When you curse in [English], you sound stoosh. Cyaan' curse
in English, man! People will laugh after you and say, "She stoosh, eenh?" (Note
symbolic value of speech, see SPEAKY-SPOKY)
stooshy /stushi/ n [ < stoosh] Person who is seen as acting STOOSH 1989 Nov 13
Patrick tape JC-U44b-35 young Kingston woman, 23, raised in St. Elizabeth:
"[Interviewee:] Dem use to call me a stooshy, yes. [Patrick:] Why? [Interviewee:] Dem se
me gwan like me too nice. You always neat comin to school an' all dose sort a t'ings, an'
you haadly talk much to them. Dey always say I go on like me stoosh, but it don' matta
to me anyhow."
study (to) /stodi (tu)/ vi [DJE only as "in phr: study one's head, study a brain, a plan"]
Ponder, consider, deliberate; plan, scheme 1958 Dec 4 DeCamp tape 5A-2, Reel 24a
elderly man at Belmont, Portland (telling Anansi story) "Dere was a big sheep-pen, away
up in de mountain, call it Our Lord Sheep Pen. Him study to go up de an to tief di sheep
an kil it."
sucking hag/sokin haig/ n [perh < Trin Fr Cr sukuyn 'witch', < Fulfulde sukunyndyo,
Soninke sukunya 'witch, sorcerer'; cf. Aub-Buscher 1989, 8; Baker 1988, 238] Witch;
OLD HIGE[see also OLD SUCK, SUCKING DUPPY]. 1895 Banbury 33-4 (cited in DJE) "the
suck of an old hag. ... Up to now any old shrivelled woman with skinny fngers and raw
eyes is suspected of being a sucking hag in some parts of Jamaica and is feared
accordingly." (Aub-Buscher [1989, 8] suggests this etymology for "the [Trinidadian]
name of the witch who lives under the silk-cotton tree and sheds her skin at night to go
roaming." Note coincidence between the root and the English 'suck', one of the activities
attributed to Old Hige, who preys on people, esp infants, and sucks their blood.)
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
tarry/tari/ v [DJE cites general arch. dial. sense] Stay up, praying and/or singing, for a
religious ceremony (used in Revivalist and Pocomania churches; see secular synonym
BLEACH; case in the citation included praying and talking in tongues the night before a
baptism) 1987 Sistren 85: "Me faada and me go to her Baptism. Dem keep church
whole night, siddung up, say dem a tarry."
techie, teki /teki/ n [perh < technical as in 'TKO, technical knockout' in boxing]
Method of scoring in games, such that a lopsided victory ends earlier than the usual
length of a match (e.g., in table tennis one might lose 11-0, 11-1 or 11-2 without going
all the way to 21); as in Mi get teki!; One more wi' mek teki!; Him give Chin a teki.
tek set(p)on /tek set (pan)/ vt [ < take + set, in sense 'put into a fixed or immovable
condition'] Attach oneself firmly to someone in a menacing manner; continually and
implacably threaten or harass someone (often said of DUPPIES and other supernatural
beings) 1987 Sistren 34: "Me member bout di white duppy dem weh tek set on cousin
Gloria up a di Great House. Every night people inna di district wid bottle torch go up deh
fi read book and keep prayers fi get di duppy off her." Sistren 57: " 'Suppose we do her
anyting and police come lock we up. Member seh constable deh bout yah and...' She say
'Ee hee? Yuh tink she can just get up and tek set pon people so. After she no bad more
dan nobody else.' " Sistren 103: "If me prevent him from go, him would a haffi go stay
till him get anodder passport. Dat mean him deh go tek set pon me. Me no waan have all
dat problem. Mek him galang." Sistren 178: "If di people dem inna di capture land no
like yuh, dem would beat yuh or tek set pon yuh till yuh leave di area." --tek set vi
Become fixed in pattern of behavior; pursue course of action inexorably 1987 Sistren 77
"Mama say me fi deh-deh cause she no know bout baby again and she cyaan bodder wid
it. Me deh-deh long-long now, till she come tek set. She waan me fi come back cause a
she one deh-deh." Sistren 170: "Every week him come up! All two time a week him
come up deh. Him tek set. Me never like it. Me did waan get way from him."
tief (and) /tiif (an)/ v Sneak; act in a furtive or surreptitious manner 1987 Sistren 89
"Me decide seh me a go tief and press mi hair" (against wishes of very religious family
members) Sistren 225 "Everyday when dem gimme di whole heap a clothes fi wash,
mi tief way go a Barnett River."
trace; tracing /chries, chriesin/ v, n [ < trace, leather side-strap of harness; perh used for
whipping?] Curse; insult or argue with someone using rough language, including
obscenities 1987 Sistren 227 "Everybody in di yard hide. 'All a di ole whore dem! All
who never ketch man last night, try go ketch him now, me will wait!' And him puddung
a piece a tracing round a di front before him reach a di back. Dat time a him one a trace
to himself." Sistren 231 "One worries! One tracing di day up deh between she and him.
Till him friend start mouth her too. After dem gone, she say, 'Yuh no haffi stay! Awo!
Plenty people out a street waan di work!' All di trace she a trace and gwan, me no
answer. Me no waan lose di work." 1989 July 10 Daily Gleaner letter to the editor
"The indiscipline that I have noted in the House of Parliament since the opening of what
should be the Budget Debate, but which is, in fact, the 'Budget tracing', is reminiscent of
the level of indiscipline which is in evidence at a ghetto dance or free-for-all: it is truly
gutter behavior." July 17 Daily Gleaner, Flair magazine: "And the whole attitude of
domestic helpers has evolved over the years even long before the coming of Free Zone
and all that, and when they were called maids. It's no longer a 'Yes maam, t'ank yu
maam' situation, but just look at her for a second too long and she'll 'trace the frock off'
her employer. 1990 Feb 1 Daily Gleaner op-ed editorial by Anthony Johnson, JLP MP
for St. Catherine: "The term BANG-BELLY itself was never a purely descriptive word, but
was one of derision, and very often a term of abuse and cursing. It usually cropped up as
a part of the host of anatomical descriptions which typify Jamaican cursing and tracing at
the tenement yard level. These fiery, loud and often comical streams of words, rarely
added much to the sum and substance of human thought, but rather amused, abused,
graphically described and deflated whichever unfortunate individual happened to be the
subject of the discourse. (Their responses were usually, 'Who you a call bang-belly? Tan
up deh an mek a lick out yu ---')."
trapasa /chrapasa/ n [perh < Span trapala, 'noise, uproar'] Percussion instrument used in
Kumina ceremonies 1984 Ryman 107 "Both the Schuler [1977, 203] and the Moore
and Simpson [1957, 1000] texts make reference to a trapasa, a metal blade struck like a
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
war-bush/war bush/ n CACOON shrub, Entada gigas (Maroon term); "the Maroons drape
the vine and leaves around themselves for camouflage" (DJE, 88). 1984 Tanna 20 Col.
C L G Harris of the Moore Town Maroons "We call it ambush. We call the bush
Cakoon, and we call it war bush too, because it was indispensable in clothing the men,
and women too, in bushes, so realistically that the English could not realize that these
clumps of bushes were indeed men, clothed in Cakoon."
warn /waan, waarn/ vi Predict the second coming of Jesus, or a new age, or doom and
retribution to punish sinful behavior (a speech act having to do with Pentecostal, Revival
or Pocomania church practices; may occur in a state of vision or possession; may occur
alongsideTRUMPING AND LABORING) 1987 Sistren 84 "One night when everybody did
gone to bed she wake we. Out a di clear blue sky, she announce seh she get vision. 'An
angel of di Lord appear to me and say me must get baptise and serve di Lord for di
coming of di Lord is at hand.' She open di door and start trump, 'Hmm! Hmm! Hmm!'
People used to warn and get inna spirit so it never surprise me dat it happen to she.
Odder people wake up and come. All Aunt Lou who used to warn too come wid we."
wastry /wieschri/ n [ < Scot wastry, wastery 'waste of (something)', OEDC 1830 -->]
Refuse matter, surplus materials; vegetable or cropTRASH 1992 July 18 Patrick tape
JC-R4b-6 male cane-cutter, 43, of Bath, St. Thomas "Far more produce waste than
what sell. Dey shoulda buil' a fact'ry out a di banana, di same banana dat go a foreign,
we wouldn't have to lose no market, no weight, out of it. Di wastry is- we would use the
wastry to mek animal feed, mek chips, mek odda else fi different sources."
wrap-head /rap hed/ n, attrib [ < wrap + head, see 1987 citation] Person who follows
the Pocomania Afro-Christian religious tradition, so called because they use cloth head-
ties as part of their ceremonial dress (often used derogatorily, as below) 1987 Sistren
85: "Di next week, she start go to di Poco church. ... Dem haffi wear white, while de
elders dem inna black gown and dem tie dem head wid white cloth. Some a dem wrap
come way out inna long point. Some a dem wrap all round dem waist. ... Me faada say,
'Foolishness! Pure foolishness! What cause dem fi wrap dem head wid all three different
cloth?' " 1992 July 18 Patrick tape JC-R5a-4 sugar-cane worker, SG, 45, and
Rastafarian co-worker, TM, 43, both of East St. Thomas: "[SG:] Me no really go ina
dem place, y'know. Away from me go to church, like say them little-- the little wrap-head
church round there. [TM:] Yeh. You see dem lickle wrap-head people ya? ... Me was a
man dat, me tell you dis, neva love to hear bout Pocomania and obeah people, y'know."
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
yangkuku/yangkuku, nyangkuku/ n [ < Akan nyah - 'God's' + kuh kuma 'greatest Ashanti
fetish', Dalby 1971, 41] True-born Maroon; descendant of Ashanti people (opposed to
BROUNI) 1952 Cassidy tape 7A-18, Reel 10a quot SV BROUNI ("These two terms are
defined in relation to each other, as opposites" [Bilby, 1994]; see also Bilby 1983, DJE
yardie /yaadi/ n [ < yard 'home, dwelling' + -ie suffix] 1: Someone from the same
home orYARD; someone from the same cluster of dwellings or neighborhood; old friend
(solidary term when used as address form, implying close relationship as family or
fictive kin, e.g. Yes man, me an im a yaadie from mawnin! 'Yes man, we're old friends
from childhood days!') 2: Fellow Jamaican; someone born in Jamaica (DJESYARD
sense 3) 3: Member of a Jamaican posse abroad (Brit) 1995 Gunst 136: "He was the
ATF's liaison with Scotland Yard, which was then tracking yardies, as [members of] the
posses are called in England."
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
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More Information Needed On These Items:
I don't have enough information on these to consider them full entries yet, and would appreciate if anyone who does contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
colt/kuolt/ vt [OED 1580-1618, obs] Cheat? 1991? Rita Marley recording of Bob Marley song: "Who colt de game?"
(DESTRUCTION) CUTTER sb /kota/ Item/substance used by folk healers; DJE CUTTING
KITTIHALI sb dance mentioned in Ryman 1984: 121
LAP Sistren 224 ??sense not in DJE: "egg weh big & lap", ?
MALAATI n (Perhaps related to MULATTO, which has realizations also /malata/, /malato/ and /malanta/; or ...
MALANTI-BUSH?) DeCamp Reel 23b, Inf. 48-NG, Nemiah Gray, Portland (telling story of "The Bull and Marley Clemmons"): "...dat malaati depan rakstuon." (End of story, but meaning unclear to me.)
MAN-WIS sb. Plant, withe Cf. Arvilla's notes, E. Wright from Accompong. (Not in DJE, but see WIS and MAN-.)
NIYA, NYA, NYAH expand DJE's entries for NIYABINGI, NIYAMAN (See Arvilla's tape I with Nyah of Woodside, B: 8-10:00.)
NKUYU sb spirit messengers in Kumina
NUFFY /nofi/ n [ < nuff, sense above] Person who is seen as actingNUFF (see STOSHY).
ONE-AND-FEW Several, few, a couple. Pauline (JC-U)
SIICH vb (??) < switch? DeCamp Reel 25a, Inf. 54a in Anansi story: "Siich, mi gud wip, siich!" Not in DJE.
STREET-ARAB. To play s-a: to slip away in a crowd. Cf. V.S. Reid, 'New Day' (excerpt in Dathorne ed: 196) Not in DJE.
(MOURNING) TABLE sb. Add to DJE cite (Lit. only). Described by Cleveland Nelson of Barbican [FGC-9B: 1-4; Reel 13b: 24].
tar-post /tar puos/ n Tarred stick? (Like Brer Rabbit story?) Quot. from Anansi story by Evelyn Thomas [FGC-4B: 37-39; Reel 6b, 3-4 min.]
tek faas Anansi story by Everald Bryant [FGC-8A: 44-45; Reel 11b; also Bennett p. 212]
tempo moto sb. Off-season for sugar workers. E. Clarke 1957:93. <CubanSp?
wanga-gut /wanga got/ n insult, precise sense? Cf. 'wanga' in DJE, but does not seem related. ("Corporal Wanga-gut" in Pantomime, 1989)
whapea /whopi, wopi/ n some kind of special magical pea? From story told by Thomas Rowe, Maroon storyteller of Accompong (learned stories from Emmanuel Rowe, DeCamp's informant). See recording, book by Laura Tanna, p. 70.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T W Y
Special thanks for their help in the preparation of this work go to Fred Cassidy, who invited me to visit the DARE lab in Madison and copy his original fieldwork tapes, and also criticized a draft of the letters A-L; to Ian Hancock, who gave me Dave DeCamp's original tapes for study and safe-keeping; to Arvilla Payne-Jackson, for similarly sharing her field tapes with me (and putting together a project so we could collect more!); to Ken Bilby, who shared with me his incomparable knowledge of Jamaican Maroons and made helpful comments on an early draft; and to Ron Butters, for encouraging me to prepare and submit the original article. All the above not only shared their linguistic and/or anthropological expertise but also their hospitality and friendship. Last, but certainly not least, thanks to my brother Ken -- my number one informant -- who (having spent a year in Kingston before I got there) taught me some of these in the first place!
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Adams, Emilie L. 1991. Understanding Jamaican Patois: An introduction to Afro-Jamaican grammar. Kingston: Kingston Publishers Ltd.
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Winer, Lise, ed. In preparation. Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago.
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