#AtoZChallenge Tan deh!

I wouldn’t expect anyone without Jamaican roots to understand “Tan deh!”; it means stay there. But, it’s not just stay there for no reason, but for many reasons. For instance: 

  • stay, if you want to defy my request to leave (and see what wrath I’ll bring on you)
  • stay, when I’ve told you I am leaving (and I’m not waiting for you) 
  • stay right there; don’t move (command)

The difference is communicated through the tone of the phrase. You need to hear the expression in several settings to get this. As with many Jamaican expressions, repeating part of it gives (h)emphasis. So, something very big is ‘big big’; something very small is ‘likkle likkle’ (little little). So, if you’re told to ‘Tan deh deh’, you really must (or, really, you ought to go, for your own good). 

Watch this episode from The Ity and Fancy Cat Show, about a ‘country helper. You get it? No? Tan deh!  


Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)

One thought on “#AtoZChallenge Tan deh!”

  1. I discussed the nuances of this phrase at great length with hubby! It’s a great one. I never watch that show but the sketch was a great illustration!


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