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Jamaican Proverbs

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“Finger neber say “look here,” him say “look yonder.”

Translation: People do not usually point out their own faults.

 

“If you get your han’ in a debil mout’ tek it out.”

Translation: Act cautiously in getting out of difficulty.

 

 “Peacock hide him foot when him hear ’bout him tail.”

Translation: A proud person does not like his little weaknesses exposed.

 

“No wait till drum beat before you grine you axe”

Translation: Be prepared for all eventualities.

 

“You ‘fraid fe yeye, you neber nyam head.”

Translation: If you regard too much the good opinion of any one you will never prosper.

 

“A no want a fat mek nightingale foot ‘tan’ so”

Translation: Do not judge by appearances.

 

“Ebry dyay debble help teef; wan dyah Gad wi help watchman.”

Translation: 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 that occurs.  He will one day reward the efforts of the faithful.

 

 “Cowad man kip soun’ bone.”

Translation: It is better to be thought of as a coward than to give away one’s life through impetuous behaviour.  It is certain that, as in the old Chinese proverb, “The man who fights and runs away, will live to fight another day”

 

“Cack mowt kill cack.”

Translation: 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.

 

“Dawg no hol ef im ha bone.”

Translation: The dog is an animal which is very fond of bones, and is not likely to appear miserable if it has bones to gnaw on. Similarly, people do not become upset or agitated if they are comfortable.  It is also difficult for some persons to lobby against issues which do not directly concern them.

 

 “If yu noh mash ants, yu noh fine him guts.”

Translation: It is only when you are closely involved with some persons that you are able to really know them.  If one is not provoked, it is impossible to know the extent of his/her fury.

 

“Ole fiyah tick easy fe ketch.”

Translation: 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.

 

“Yu cyaan sidung pahn cow bak cuss cow kin.”

Translation: We should not disparage others.  Worse yet, we should never be ungrateful to, or disdainful of, those who help us.

 

“Yu shake man han, but yu noh shake im hawt.”

Translation: 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.

 

“When chubble tek yu, pikney shut fit yu.”

Translation: 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.

 

 

Information taken from the National Library of Jamaica

 

Blessings in abundance!

 

 

 

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