Mispronouncing Words

mispronounceJamaicans have a rare talent for mangling the English language.  One of the many ways we do this is by gleefully mis-pronouncing even very common words. Consider the short list of words below and their mispronunciations. (Note: If you are not seeing why these are mispronunciations please seek immediate assistance.)

Anthony: An-tunny or H’antonny.  You’ll note that Jamaicans have a love/hate relationship with h’s.  We love to put them where they are not needed and hate to use them where they are necessary. A great example of this is found at public events when one hears the national anthem beautifully sung in chorus: “H’eternal Fah-der bless H’our land, Guard H’us with your mighty ‘and…”

Ask: Ahkse or Axe

Certificate: Serfy-ticket

Charmaine:  Shah-mayne

Desk: Deks (Note that the “k” and the “s” have swopped positions”)

Drawers:  Draaws

Dwayne: Doo-waayne

Evening: Eveling. Discard the “n”, add an “l”. Independence/Emancipation celebrations are coming up soon and before they are over I guarantee you will hear someone singing Lousie Bennett’s classic Jamaican folk song: “Eveling time, work is over, now is eveling time…”

Film: Flim (Note that the “l” and the “I” have exchanged places)

Jeremy: Germy

Judith: Juditt. (Go ahead and ignore the “h” at the end)

Leroy:  Lee-rai

Marva: Maw-vah. (Feel free to ignore the “r” in the middle of the name.)

Measures: Medghures (Insert a completely unnecessary “d” just for the hell of it)

Norman: Naw-man

Patricia: Pah-treesha

Picture: Pick-cha

Sausage: Satches

Smith: Suh-mitt or Smitt (I once knew a Pah-treesha H’Elaine ‘ortense Suh-mitt. True story.)

Snack: Suh-nack. (Similarly, Snake becomes Suh-nake)

Shrimp: Swims or Swimps. We all know someone who pronounces it this way and that person is guaranteed to use the word at the most embarrassing time:

Wife (talking to waiter in fancy restaurant): “I’ll have the lobster, and my husband will have the shrimp.”
Husband: "Good choice honey. I LOVE swims"

Title: Tie-kle

Trouble:  Chubble. As my grandmother often used to say: “Nevah chubble chubble till chubble chubble you”

Under: Can variously be pronounced honda, anda, hunder or awnder

Violence: Voy-lence. I’ve heard this mispronunciation on radio, television and even in Jamaica’s Parliament. It’s so ingrained in some people that there’s no sense trying to point it out to them.  Efforts to correct them usually go something like this:

You: “John, the word is pronounced vi-o-lence”
John (with a blank stare): “But that’s exactly what I said - voy-lence.”

Work:  Rerk or Herk