10 Life Lessons From Shakespeare … In Jamaican Patois

6. Love is strange – and strong

Shakespeare: “I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is not that strange?”
Jamaican: Mi love yuh more than cook food …
Translation: I love you more than cooked food.
Meaning: Both sayings are expressing an incomparable depth and breadth of love. For the Jamaican saying, the implication is that cooked food is so well-loved, it is a great honour for someone to love you more than it! Like Shakespeare, we could ask, “Is that not strange?”

7. Time and chance happen to everyone

Shakespeare: “Come what come may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day.”
Jamaican: Time and chance, time and chance.
Meaning: What Shakespeare calls “time and the hour” is the equivalent of a line many Jamaican grandparents picked up from the bible: “time and chance” happens to every man. So anything can happen to anyone, and this is a good thing to remember in our best and worst moments.

8. Live with integrity to avoid disgrace

Shakespeare: “Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides:
Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.”
Jamaican: Wha inna darkness muss come a light.
Translation: What is in the darkness must come to light.
Meaning: This means the things that we try to hide will ultimately be revealed. The unspoken admonition is to live a life worthy of close scrutiny, so that you will never need to be ashamed of any part of it.

9. Listen more than you speak

Shakespeare: “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.”
Jamaican: God gi yuh two ears and one mouth fi a reason.
Translation: God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Meaning: In essence, both quotes adjure you to listen more than you speak. In addition, Shakespeare’s quote suggests that you should carefully select the people you choose to speak with.

10. Accept things for what they are

Shakespeare: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would
smell as sweet.”
Jamaican: Nuh expect nutting from a pig but a grunt.
Translation: Expect nothing from a pig but a grunt.
Meaning: Similar to how the rose can only ever be a rose, despite what you call it, the pig will only ever be a pig – and you shouldn’t expect anything more than a pig’s typical response – a grunt – from it.