You probably didn’t know these Jamaican patois words have Akan origin

Photo Credit: Lionel Rookwood/

The Jamaican patois language has its origins highly influenced by West Africa.

Created by slaves that were brought to the island in the 1600s, the word Patois is derived from French and means “rough speech.”

Also known as Creole, the language is a mixture of broken English and other African languages with Akan being very predominant.

The huge Akan influence in the language is as a result of the sizeable number of Akan slaves that were brought to the island from West Africa to work on plantations during the Transatlantic slave trade.

According to Ruby Madden in The Historical and Culture Aspects of Jamaican Patois, slaves were “divided into groups deliberately without a common language to prevent revolt.”

As a result, “slaves began to learn pidgin in order to communicate with each other and their masters. The children grew up in this life, learned pidgin from their parents as their first language and it evolved from pidgin to creole.”

Take a look at some of the patois words that have Akan origins below:

1. Ackee

Akan name: Ankye

Meaning: Refers to a fruit (Ackee and saltfish is Jamaica’s national dish.)

2. Adrue

Akan name: Aduro

Meaning: Medicine

3. Afasia

Akan name: Afaséɛ

Meaning: Wild yam

4. Afu

Akan name: Afúw

Meaning: Plantation

5. Anansi

Akan name: Anansi

Meaning: A Spider. It also refers to a folklore character.

6. Bafan

Akan name: Abɔfra

Meaning: A baby or toddler

7. Broni

Akan name: Oburoni

Meaning: A white person

8. Casha

Akan name: Kasɛ́i

Meaning: Thorns

9. Dokunu

Akan name: Dɔkono

Meaning: Dessert cooked in banana leaves

10. Cocobay

Akan name: Kokobé

Meaning: Leprosy

11. Kongkos

Akan name: Konkonsa

Meaning: Gossip

12. Nana

Akan name: Nana

Meaning: Grandparent

13. Poto-poto

Akan name: Mpotompoto

Meaning: Muddy

14. Red-eye

Akan name: Anibre

Meaning: Envy

15. Opete

Akan name: Opete

Meaning: Vulture

16. Accompong

Akan name: Akyeampong

Meaning: It is an Akan surname. It means “destined for greatness.”

Last Edited by:Ama Nunoo Updated: February 4, 2021


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