I have been in Jamaica for almost three years and I don’t catch and understand their so-called “Patois” (or sometimes “Pattwa”) language yet, especially when they speak fast. As expected, I learned greeting word like “Wa Gwan” or Whatta Gwan, something like “what is going on” or “What’s up” and of course, a bad word like “Bumbaclot”. Please don’t ask me what does it mean. Google it if you are curious enough.
Fortunately, 99% of them understand and talk standard English, so I don’t have any problem working here.
Yesterday, I just heard a new word which is neither Patois nor English. It is the word that I have not learned in medical school and I have never been heard throughout my experience working with them. This old gentleman just said “Doc, mi havin’ foothritis” (or footathritis, I don’t know how he spells)”. So, I was explaining to him about arthritis or the joint pain. At one point, he interrupted and said “no doc, mi called it foothritis”. Then I said okay and used footathritis whenever I was referring arthritis throughout our conversation. He was smiling when I said “foothritis”. I think in that way I got a better rapport with the patient.
Words or the language don’t matter, it is COMMUNICATION and the mutual understanding that matters, don’t?
If you are interested, you can learn some Jamaican words here –