If you are wondering what that Jamaicanism could possibly mean, the translation into Standard English is “stop everything and relax” which is a motto every good holiday in Jamaica should aspire to! Obviously as you board the plane to fly here we would say “cool runnings” – that means “have a safe trip” and was a commonplace phrase long before Usain Bolt became the fastest man on earth. We hope that dining at Mille Fleurs you will “nyam well” (eat well) and if you hit upon a Jerk stall whilst out & about in Port Antonio don’t be surprised if the cook asks if you are “ram”, which means “full up” rather than feeling like a male sheep.
Standard English is of course spoken throughout Jamaica, but one of the great joys of holidaying here is experiencing the rhythmic & melodic Jamaicanisms you will often hear, reflective of the spirit of the island and its people, evolved from the blend of those who were brought or came to Jamaica over the centuries. Some people call these Creole or Patois, which are languages that develop when people are forced to find a way to communicate outside of their own language.
There is more than a smattering of the West African languages, such as Kwa, Manding & Kru, mixed together with a heavy dose of the regional variants of standard English that were spoken by the sailors, soldiers, indentured servants &c. that were involved in the slave trade and subsequently maintaining Jamaica’s colonial history. Add into this a little Haccka Chinese and Hindi from indentured labourers, Spanish & Portuguese and of course the original language of the native inhabitants of Jamaica, the Arawak, and you could just about be there! We love Alex Morrissey’s guide to the most common Jamaicanisms – have a browse before you arrive.