Jamaica language sweet yuh know bwoy,
An yuh know mi nebba notice i’,
Till tarra day one foreign frien’
Come spen some time wid mi.
An dem im call mi attention to
Some tings im sey soun’ queer,
Like de way wi always sey ‘koo yah’
When we really mean ‘look here’.
and continues with marvelous examples of Jamaican idiom (“A ready yuh ready aready?”), finishing up with an expansion of the linguistic dissonance felt by “po’ likkle foreign Hugh”:
Mi advise im no fe fret imself,
For de Spaniards do it to,
For when dem mean fe sey ‘jackass’,
Dem always say ‘burro’.
De French, Italian, Greek an Dutch,
Dem all guilty o’ de crime
None a dem no chat im language,
Soh Hugh betta larn fe mime.
But sayin’ dis and dat yuh know,
Some o’ wi cyan eben undastan one anodda,
Eben doah wi all lib yah
An chat de same patois.
(If you need a crash course in patois, there’s a word list here.) The poem is just one element in the syllabus for the Caribbean Literature course (Winter 2002) of the Department of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara; they obviously have to have good course materials to keep students focused on anything but the gorgeous surroundings of the beachfront campus. (Via wood s lot.)