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June 17, 2024
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Ten Jamaican proverbs you should know

1. Proverb: Finger neber say “look here,” him say “look yonder.”

Translation: Finger never says “look here,” he says “look yonder.”
Explanation: People do not usually point out their own faults.

2. Proverb: If you get your han’ inna tiga mout, tek yu time and tek it out.

Translation: If your hand is in the tiger’s mouth, take it out slowly and carefully.
Explanation: Act cautiously in getting out of difficulty.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Proverb: Ole fiyah tick easy fe ketch

Translation: Old fire sticks are easily re-kindled.
Explanation: It is much easier to light coals which have been burnt before, than to get a fire going with fresh logs. Similarly, if a relationship has previously existed between two people, it is easier to rekindle the flames of love than to start a new relationship with someone else.

6. Proverb: Yu shake man han, but yu noh shake im hawt

Translation: You can shake a man’s hand, but you cannot shake his heart.
Explanation: It is impossible to detect what a person has in his mind toward you through mere physical contact. Do not, therefore, take people, their opinions, or their feelings for granted.

7. Proverb: Fiyah deh a muss-muss (moos-moos) tail, im tink a cool breeze

Translation: There is a fire blowing at the tail of the mouse, but he believes he is feeling the effects of a cooling breeze.
Explanation: Many times, in our naivete, we remain unaware of impending danger until it actually overtakes us. Also, the foolhardy blithely interpret the signs of danger to mean that all is well.

8. Proverb: Spit 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.

9. Proverb: New broom sweep clean, but owl broom noe dem cahna

Translation: The new broom sweeps clean, but the old broom knows all the corners.
Explanation: We should strive for a happy blend between the old and the new, combining the freshness of the new with the valuable experience of the old.

10. 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.

Picture Credit: A Time to Rejoice by Lisa Narcisse


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