Can We Talk in Jamaica?

When visiting Jamaica, the language you'll encounter is English - with a local flair

Photo credit: © fightingtheboss

Languages in Jamaica

The Jamaican accent is one of the most recognizable in the world, and luckily for most English speaking vacationers, it is also very easy to understand.

The official language of Jamaica is English, and native islanders generally look towards British English for spelling and dialect, though the island's locale near the United States and increasing business with the country has created a slight shift towards American English. 

Additionally, most Jamaicans speak Patois on a more regular basis, amongst their family and friends.  In Jamaica, Patois refers to Jamaican Creole, which is a combination of Spanish, English, and an assortment of African tongues.  When you listen to Jamaican music, this is what you are hearing. 

Almost everyone on the island speaks a familiar form of English, so tourists have nothing to worry about. If you find yourself having a conversation with a local, and they are speaking in an unknown slang, just ask them to either repeat themselves or speak slower. Jamaicans will often have a good sense of humor about the situation.

When traveling abroad, language is a common concern.  Happily, English speakers from around the world will find that there is no need to prepare for a trip to Jamaica with special classes or dictionaries filled with translations.  Simply show up, enjoy the soothing lilt of the Jamaican accent, and enjoy your time spent on the island without the worry that you will be hindered by a language barrier. 


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