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"Soon come" - What does it really mean?

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I've noticed that there are certain phrases used by Jamaicans that are near-impossible to define with any precision. Such phrases are really only understood by Jamaicans who have had a lifetime of practical experience in their use.  “Soon come” is the perfect example. (The Trinidadian equivalent, by the way, is "Just now")  The phrase can be used in a variety of ways.  So, if the credit card company calls about an unpaid bill, your simply saying:  "Ah  soon come down dere wid the cheque.  I going to the bank right now" may give you another day or two to play with. (Depending on how often you've used "soon come" before, that is.)  If your irritated wife calls your cell phone at 1am while you're at the bar playing dominoes, a simple "Soon come baby. I jus’ about to give dem bwoy yah six-love" should give you at least another hour's grace. Why? Because, instead of giving a precise time you used the much more vague “soon come” which just means “I’ll be home long before you make a firm decision to divorce me”.  If, however, you had said “I will be home in twenty minutes” and then showed up an hour later you would certainly have been in serious trouble.

As you can see from the examples above, the beauty (and danger) of "soon some" is that it is notoriously non-specific, immensely imprecise and exceptionally hard to define.

Let’s take another example. Your average American walks into a patty shop in Brooklyn and orders "one of those lovely Juh-may-kin beef paddies".  The Jamaican cashier, who is on her cell phone discussing her marital issues with her sister Mavis in Florida (but is kind enough to acknowledge the presence of the customer) says "One second mi boss. Ah soon come."  The American, in his ignorance, interprets this to mean: "I will be with you momentarily" and begins to wait patiently at the cash register.  What the cashier really meant, however, was: "I will get to you when I get to you.  Your lunch cannot be nearly as important as the fact that Trevor ah give me bun wid dat dutty, jeyes-ears girl weh live next door"

As we already noted above, in this context, “soon come” means “some time today”. But “soon come” can mean something else entirely…

Take the example of the Jamaican patty shop at mid-day.  The line of hungry customers curls like a snake through the shop and almost out through the door.  The “uptown” lady at the top of the line is taking forever to make her order: “You have lobster patties? No?  Only beef and chicken? Can I get four beef and four chicken?  No, make that six beef and two chicken. You have change for a $1,000 bill?  Can I use my credit card instead? You have cocoa bread? Danish? I wonder if you can give me one second while I call the kids and see what they want?”  An obviously hungry gentleman dressed in a hard hat, work-boots and a layer of cement-dust calls from the back of the line: “Lady mek up yuh #$!!&@ mind and stop waste people time!”  His comment is met with murmurs of approval from other famished persons in the line. “She nuh know say people hungry?” mutters one lady. The uptown lady, however, decides to be brave and snaps back: “Don’t shout at me sir! Don’t shout at me! Cruff! Damn out of order!” In turn, the exasperated construction worker shouts back “Ah me yuh ah talk to? Ah soon come up dere an’ thump yuh in yuh mout!”

Now in this situation “soon come” doesn’t mean “some time today” it means “any second now” and persons should act accordingly!

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