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About the language

Sun., Dec. 9, 2012, midnight

The first page of the Gospel according to St. Luke, or the “Di Gud Nyuuz bout Jiizas azkaadn tu Luuk.” (Associated Press)
The first page of the Gospel according to St. Luke, or the “Di Gud Nyuuz bout Jiizas azkaadn tu Luuk.” (Associated Press)

 Most words in Jamaican patois, like other English Caribbean patois, are English words filtered through a distinct phonetic system with fewer vowels and different consonant sounds. Patois is written phonetically to approximate these differences. So in patois, the English “girl” becomes “gyal.”

 Between 5 percent and 10 percent of patois words are of African origin, like “nyam” for “to eat.” But the greatest divergence from English is in grammar, which has origins in the languages of West Africa.


 

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