The official language of Jamaica is English, spoken in proper fashion with a uniquely Jamaican accent. But the language of the streets is patois. This musical dialect is a combination of English, Spanish, Portuguese, African phrases and a good dose of Jamaican slang. Spoken in a sing-song style, the result is as exotic as any foreign language. Jamaican patois is a fascinating use of the language. With patois, “You get more mileage out of your tongue,” one Jamaican explained to us.
Jamaica’s patois includes words from many different African languages. Most are believed to come from the Twi language and other Gold Coast (not Ghana) languages. Other influences include the language of Mendi, Igbo, Efik, Yoruba, Kongo, Kimbundu, Ewe, Mandinka and, possibly Swahili.
Use your international mobile phone rental to find a translation service near you.