Jamaican Proverbs That Speak To The Elements

Jamaican proverbs hold a special place in our hearts. They represent the continuation of the oral history of our nation, a summation of the stories and lessons of our forefathers in a few succinct, witty lines. Nothing thrills us like hearing the words of our ancestors in our native tongue, passing along wisdom – sometimes with a heavy dose of humour – to the next generation. Here are some Jamaican proverbs speaking to the elements of fire and water.

Fire

Fire deh a muss muss tail, him tink a cool breeze.
Translation: When fire is at muss-muss’ (a fictional creature) tail, he thinks it is cool breeze.

Wen visitor come a we fireside, we mek we pot smell sweet.
Translation: When visitors come to our fireside, we ensure that our pots smell sweet.

Pudden cyaan bake widout fire.
Translation: A pudding cannot be baked without fire.

Yuh cyan tek mout-water so out fire.
Translation: You cannot use mouthwater to put out a fire just so.

 

Water

Dutty water can put out fire.
Translation: Dirty waters can put out a fire.

When water trow weh, it cyaan pick up back.
Translation: When water is thrown away, it cannot be picked up back.

Rock stone a ribba bottom never see sun hot.
Translation: The rockstone at the bottom of the river never sees the heat of the sun.

Every fish eena sea nuh shark.
Translation: Not every fish in the sea is a shark.

Sun bun washer woman, but it dry her wet clothes.
Translation: The sun may burn the washerwoman, but it will also dry her wet clothes.

Drought time hard pon mawga cane, but it never too late fi a shower a rain.
Translation: Times of drought are difficult for a meager dog, but it is never too late to get a shower of rain.

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