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Proverbs in Jamaican Creole (JMC)

JMC Proverb:
“Ben di trih wen it yong, kaaz wen it uol it a goh brok.”

English Translation:
“Bend a tree while it is young, because when it is old, it will certainly break.”

“Bring up a child in the way he should be, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

JMC Proverb:
“Ef fish deh a riba batam an tel yuh seh aligetah a gom bwail, biliivi im.”

English Translation:
“If a fish that is at the bottom of the river, tells you that an alligator has a gum boil, believe him.”

“Always pay attention to the voice of experience.”

JMC Proverb:
“Noh expek notn fram a pig bot a gront.”

English Translation:
“Don’t look for refinement from an uncouth person, but only crudeness.”
(“If you know someone is uncouth, don’t act surprised.”)

JMC Proverb:
“Noh romp wid mahga koh, a kudah bul muhmah.”

English Translation:
“Don’t idle with a skinny cow, it might be the bull’s mother.”

“Don’t underestimate those who may appear weak and insignificant to you, because you may not know what powerful allies they may have in their corner.”

JMC Proverb:
“Plei wid popi daag, popi daag lik yuh fies. Plei wid big daag, big daag a goh bait yuh."

English Translation:
"If you keep company with those who admire you, they may flatter you. If you keep company with those who despise you, they may put you in harms way."

"While birds of a feather may flock together, familiarity in other cases may also breed contempt."

JMC Proverb:
"Sahri fi mahga daag, mahga daag tong rong bait yuh."

English Translation:
"Don't feel sorry for the skinny dog, who might ungratefully bite you."

"Sometimes it's the very people you've shown kindness to, who stab you in the back."

JMC Proverb:
"Seik a mout fish a get kech."

English Translation:
"Because of its mouth the fish got caught."

"Being too talkative will often get one in trouble."

JMC Proverb:
"Yuh a swap blak daag fi monki."

English Translation:
"You are going from the frying pan into the fire"
("You are leaving one situation that is bad to enter into another that is worse.")

About this poem

Amilcar Lopes da Costa Cabral, a Bissau-Guinean and Cape Verdean agricultural engineer, pan-Africanist, poet, theoretician, revolutionary, political organizer, and diplomat, once observed: “A people who free themselves from foreign domination will be free culturally [and linguistically] only if, without [psychological] complexes and without underestimating the importance of positive accretions from [imperial] oppressors and other cultures, they return to the upward paths of their own [native] culture, which is nourished by the living reality of its [local] environment, and which negates both harmful influences and any kind of subjection to foreign culture. Thus, it may be seen that if imperialist domination has the vital need to practice cultural oppression, national liberation [culturally and linguistically] is necessarily an act of culture.” In keeping with Cabral’s observations, this poem “Proverbs in Jamaican Creole,” is written in Jamaican Creole (JMC), known locally as Patwa or Patois, employing the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) system to standardize the Creole orthography in order to maintain consistency in spelling and pronunciation. This selection of eight proverbs or sayings was obtained from the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ); and is accompanied by English translations, with inclusion of the semantic import or meaning of the proverbs. 

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Written on March 03, 2022

Submitted by karlcfolkes on March 03, 2022

2:12 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme Ab Cx De Af Cf Dg Ae Cgx Af Ch Dh Ai Cx Dx Ai Ci Dx Ax Cx Dx Ab Chx
Closest metre Iambic hexameter
Characters 2,149
Words 436
Stanzas 22
Stanza Lengths 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3

Karl Constantine FOLKES

Retired educator of Jamaican ancestry with a lifelong interest in composing poetry dealing particularly with the metaphysics of self-reflection; completed a dissertation in Children’s Literature in 1995 at New York University entitled: An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s “Dear Mili” Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes. The subject of the dissertation concerned the process of Individuation. more…

All Karl Constantine FOLKES poems | Karl Constantine FOLKES Books

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    "Proverbs in Jamaican Creole (JMC)" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 30 Mar. 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/121493/proverbs-in-jamaican-creole-(jmc)>.

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