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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!

Comments (15)Add Comment
written by Drew, August 16, 2013
The soon come way of thinking has been the single biggest frustration (among a few) as I plan to move to Jamaica on marriage. Soon, to this Brit in the USA, seems to mean anything from some unspecified time in the future, to never. At first, I wrote it off as my fiancee's inability to schedule, but over that last year I have learned that soon come is endemic to the Jamaican way of life. Whether it's my fiancee four hours late home from work, the Doctor who has been saying 'soon' on a medical report that was promised three weeks ago, or the courthouse with promise after promise of 'soon' on a legal document. I'm learning that in Jamaica, when I hear 'soon' I should smile and have no expectations smilies/grin.gif
written by Delia, April 09, 2012
Dis funny nuh rat bat soup! a tru ting, suh if yuh nuh come from yaad or nuh know di runnings....fine wi save yuh stress....
Wen mi come a canada dem have a style fi seh gal, yuh know mi ben bout dat, but mi get fi fine out seh, dem nuh mean it de way wi (jamaicana) mean it....
written by sandy, February 07, 2012 true my kids are 6 and 4 and they always make fun of their dad who always uses the expression "soon come".....which then they respond "he really means never come".
written by sandy, February 07, 2012 true my kids are 6 and 4 and they always make fun of their dad who always uses the expression "soon come".....which then they respond "he really means never come".
written by ..., October 04, 2011
Laughing because I grew up in the Jamaican area of Ft. Lauderdale (left Jamaica when I was three). Trust me, Black folk over here in the States will have you waiting for a minute too, lol. There won't even be a "soon come." They'll leave you hanging with no explanation and show up like everything's all right. The more polite ones will say "one moment" and it'll be 30 minutes later. We have island time. They have CP (colored people) time. It must be universal among we darker-colored bredren.
written by kriss, May 09, 2011
Bossy mi "soon come" finish up di work you paying mi fa...but mi haffi done pop up offa dis one ya fus!!!
written by Rastatute, December 07, 2010
I'm suprised that one of the definitions wasn't related to Rastafarianism. "Soon come" is a reference to the salvation that will one day be ours. It advises patience when faced with adversity.
written by jAZZ, August 08, 2010
How do I make this my home page!!!! LOL
written by Pam, May 21, 2010
LOL... The American slang for 'soon come' is 'I'll be back'. I'm beginning to wonder if its a place men hangout at. :+)
written by Patrice, May 10, 2010
I don't know why it took me so long to find this site!!! The last example is the best example!!! Cheeey!!smilies/cheesy.gif
written by Carmen, March 26, 2010
Funny! Cruff...haven't heard that word in a long while. smilies/cheesy.gif
written by Crissy, February 18, 2010
written by tabbyk, December 31, 2009
crying wid laugh. "cruff" did me in.
written by aisha, September 11, 2009
written by Mellie Mel, September 08, 2009
Hilarious!!! I laughed so hard I was crying... I could see the entire scene in the patty shop playing out in my head. smilies/grin.gif

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