Jamaica, where it would not seem out of place if the sun rises in the west and sets in the east…
Much of what goes for ‘normal’ in Jamaica can come from the different meanings Jamaicans put on words or activities that seem to be understood quite differently outside our small island shores. Below, is a semi-serious tour of some of these.
Accountability, a word that exists only mainly in the dictionary…
Bright(ness) usually refers to intelligence, or an abundance of light. For Jamaicans, brightness can be about skin colour and tone and that is a whole book on its own. However, someone who is bright is rude, disrespectful, and so befitting of many a Jamaican on his/her least fine moments.
Corruption, perceived to be high, but hardly proven, judging by the minuscule number of cases that have ever been brought. What explains that huge gap?
Deadline, really the procession of people at one’s funeral or where one reaches after waiting an interminable time for something promised to be delivered or done.
Execution would be a great word if we still had the death penalty and could it much more, but meantime it’s a word like accountability that has yet to find meaning in Jamaican life when it comes to accomplishment.
Follow-up is something promised (as in ‘One of our representatives will call you back on this…’) but rarely delivered in the near-certain knowledge that most Jamaicans remember nothing after 9 days
Governance is often confused with sitting in a post and taking the pay for overseeing things, but is often merely a set of opportunities to fill one’s own pocket and help friends and family.
House, the dream of every Jamaican, and hopefully it can be built before the money runs out or the job that allows for the diversion of resources has to be given up.
Ignorant (in Jamaica and the West Indies, more broadly) is not about lack of knowledge, but to describe someone who is quick-tempered. In fact, in Jamaican Creole, we never use the word ignorant to mean someone is uniformed or lacking information.
Justice, often noted for its delays (and what is denied) than its timely delivery.
Kentucky Fried Chicken wouldn’t dare to have a crisis of no chicken in Jamaica. NEVER!!! It’d be a big deal!
Links have nothing to do with golf or sausages, in Jamaica, but everything to do with how things get done. No links, no progress.
Money is never enough, and always in demand.
Nine days, the length of the Jamaican week, despite calendars showing seven days, after which the pages are turned all can start anew.
‘Oh, really?’ that phrase that greets all attempts to indicate that what is being done in Jamaican contexts would find little acceptance anywhere else in the world.
Partisan politics runs through many things of significance and even though not always superficially clear, be sure that like the duck on water, it’s working hard under the surface
Questions are there to be posed not be answered, especially by public officials. Next!
Rigour, not know as part of much reasoned analysis, which is often better described as ‘rum talk’ (what a thing if a bottle of Ray and his nephews could talk!)
Soon (come), never reach. Foreigners often get excited at the utterance of this phrase and sit patiently waiting…and waiting…
Telephones are there for personal calls no matter what official reasons there may be for using them, and please do not interrupt telephone conversations so that business can actually get done (‘Mavis di gyal did gwan wid one piece a cussin, yu hear…’)
Understanding is what customers are always asked to display in the face of repeated provocation by enterprises who sell shoddy goods and deliver poor service.
*Voilence*, so said because we don’t want to be seen a violent people 🙂
Water is often one of the most elusive commodities in a country known to be the land of wood and water. Can an island spring a leak?
X how votes should be cast and properly counted, before the ballot boxes are mysteriously mislaid on the side of the road from Milk River to Alligator Pond 🙂 (But, our democracy is really better than that.)
Yallahs (pronounced ‘you los’) must get its name from the people who try to get there but never reach because of the terrible roads in the parish of St. Thomas.
Zed is the last letter of the alphabet as said in proper English and only people who went to the USA and try to impress with a twang and saying zee will have a different opinion. 🙂