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  • Writer's pictureJénine Shepherd

How to retain your culture| Part 1: NO LICKLE TWANG

Yuh mean yuh go dah Merica
An spen six whole mont deh,
An come back not a piece better
Dan how yuh did go weh?

Bwoy, yuh no shame? Is so yuh come?
After yuh tan so lang!
Not even lickle language, bwoy?
Not even lickle twang?

-"No Lickle Twang"Louise Bennett Coverly OM, OJ, MBE, affectionately called "Miss Lou" , Renowned Jamaican poet, folklorist, writer and educator

My Jamaican chargies can already tell what this post is going to be about, but mek me bruk it down for my international peers. First let's tackle the quote from Miss Lou!

Translation: You mean that you went to America

And spent six whole months there

And you didn't come back any better

Than how you had left?

Boy aren't you ashamed? Is this how you came?

After you stayed so long?

Not even a little of the language boy?

Not even a little twang?

Now you're probably wondering what a "twang" is. In Jamaican culture, a twang is referred to as a foreign accent that a Jamaican picks up after spending time (could even be a week) in a foreign country (typically the USA, Canada and the UK) due to the belief that the country in question possesses a superior culture. This faulty ideology stems from the strong colonial history of the Caribbean that still has its hooks sunk into our society even today. We were conditioned to believe that our culture and country were inferior to the cultures and countries of the colonizers (which were predominantly white) and so if we talked like them, we were somehow better.

It's unavoidable to return home without an accent when your home for the entire four years of study is in a foreign country. Hell, even I have an accent and it makes me sad when locals point it out by saying "ah merica yuh cum fram? (Did you come from America?)" However, there are different levels to how someone can twang. Some Jamaicans take it to a whole new extreme to the point where they confuse the same foreigners they were trying to blend in with and all you can do is laugh at their pretentiousness when they say things like "Can aye ave a cup of WOH-TER please?"

He-hey yuh nuh see it deh? (Haha, haven't you seen?) Duchess Megan gone a Britain fi mussi 2 second and all a twang (Duchess Megan has been in Britain for all of 2 seconds and is already "twanging"). Woi, what a time to be alive!

Source: [Entertainment Tonight].(2018, July 6). MEGHAN MARKLE SEEMINGLY DEBUTS BRITISH ACCENT--WATCH! [Video File.] Retrieved from

I can give you a whole host of examples of people assimilating into foreign cultures to the point where dem tun fool (they look like idiots) like wearing uggs in the hot Jamaican weather but I don't have that kind of time. There's one thing that I really want to drive home for all my friends who are trying to study abroad: STAY TRUE TO YOUR ROOTS! NO FIGET WEH YUH CUM FRAM! (Don't forget where you come from).

In this blog series, I will be driving home how exactly you can stay true to your roots when you're dropped butt first into a foreign country. Tek mi word as mi a tell yuh and you nah go be da person deh weh a wear winter boot inna Jamaica summa time! (Take my words exactly as I tell you them and you won't be that person who wears winter boots during Jamaican summers.)

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2 comentários

Jénine Shepherd
Jénine Shepherd
20 de jul. de 2018

I agree 10,000% . Thanks for sharing your experiences! It's really hard to stay in touch with your roots but you have managed to do it!


Novelette Thompson
Novelette Thompson
20 de jul. de 2018

I can relate. Although I have lived in the United States of America, my accent will never go away. Most of all, the meals that I cook. Although, I am exposed to a variety of dishes, I am always going back to cooking huge breakfast and some of my traditional Jamaican meals. In as much, as I appreciate, celebrate and embrace diversity, it is my opinion that you should never forget your point of origin. At times, it is not where our story ends, but our culture had established our foundation for our existence. Some of my American friends have also learned to understand the "patois" as well as enjoy my cooking. A Jamaican residing in America but you "Cannot…

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