The Wisdom in the Jamaican Proverbs
Growing up, I always heard my grandmother or mother citing one proverb or another when faced with various situations. As a child they didn’t make much sense but now, as a young woman, I cannot say that when I look back at them or hear them.
Here are my most favourite 10 Jamaican proverbs given in patois along with their English translation and meaning. Hope you find one you can agree with or us.
- Proverb: Evryday buckit a guh a well, one day, di battam mus drop out.
Translation: Everyday a bucket is put in a well to get water, overtime the bottom will give way.
Explanation: Every day one keeps on doing wrong in secret, one day the truth will be revealed.
- Proverb: Evry hoe hav dem ‘tick a bush.Translation: Every hoe has its stick somewhere.
Explanation: No matter how unattractive one might be, there is someone special out there for that person.
- Proverb: Di same knife weh stick goat, stick sheep.
Translation: The same knife that is used to hurt a goat is used to hurt sheep.
Explanation: Don’t gloat over someone else’s misfortune, because the same bad thing that happens to me today can happen to you tomorrow.
- Proverb: Nuh thro weh yuh tick before yuh done cross di rivva’.
Translation: Do not throw away your stick before you are through crossing the river.
Explanation: On your way to success never forget about your friends and those that have helped you, you may need them later in life.
- Proverb: If yu noh mash ants, yu noh fine him guts.
Translation: If you do not smash an ant, it is impossible for you to find its guts.
Explanation: It is only when you are closely involved with some persons that you are able to really know them. OR If one is not provoked, it is impossible to know the extent of his fury.
- Proverb: Ebry dyay debble help teef; wan dyah Gad wi help watchman.
Translation: Every day the devil helps the thief; one day God will help the watchman.
Explanation: We should not despair when it appears to us that unscrupulous persons continue to take advantage of us with no apparent deterrent. God never sleeps, and is fully aware of everything occurs. He will one day reward the efforts of the faithful.
- Proverb: Cack mowt kill cack.
Translation: The rooster was killed by his own mouth. (The butcher would not have known where to find him if he had not opened his mouth to crow.)
Explanation: One should never boast, nor should one speak out of turn. We should choose our words with care, lest we, by our own tactlessness, cause ourselves unhappiness.
- Proverb: When chubble tek yu, pikney shut fit yu.
Translation: When you find yourself in trouble, a child’s shirt fits you.
Explanation: It is ridiculous to contemplate the sight of a full-grown man fitting comfortably into a child’s shirt. However, one can readily understand that when we are in trouble, we appreciate whatever help we can get to extricate ourselves. This is so, even if under normal circumstances we would have thought such help woefully inadequate.
- Proverb: Tu much ratta nebba dig gud hole.
Translation: Too many rats never dug a good hole.
Explanation: A good job/project/activity could be spoilt if there are too many individuals attempting to carry out the same task. Ideally, work should be delegated, and one should avoid frustrating those who can really do the work, by gently re-deploying those who are time-wasters.
- Proverb: Good frien’ betta dan packet money.
Translation: A good friend is better than money in the pocket.
Explanation: No matter how valuable our material possessions may be to us, a good friend, especially in times of trouble, is always proven to be of much more worth. We should treasure our friends, not only recognizing them when we are in need.
AND A BONUS
Proverb: Pit inna de sky, it fall inna yuh y’eye
Translation: If you spit into the sky, it falls into your eye.
Explanation: What you do to, or wish for others, could eventually be the cause of your own downfall. Be careful of how you treat others.
These are just a few that I can relate to in my day-to-day life. Do you know any you would like to share. 🙂 Leave a comment below.
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I am a dynamic young lady who loves the Lord and seek to have a joy that no one can take away. My all-time favourite thing to do is gaining discoveries by design from My Father during our time each day. Reading, learning and trying new things falls behind in a close second place. My dream is to use my God-given talents to positively impact as many people as possible. As a proud Wolmerian, with a zest for life, I adhere to the “Age Quod Agis” motto in that whatsoever I do, I always do it to the best of my ability.
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