Seems as if a certain
word from the West Indies has infiltrated its way into the Tampa Tribune’s Sunday edition this past weekend causing a
big brouhaha by my friends who usually shout it loud and use it to describe, imply or say multiple things. While the
word is commonly used in London, Jamaica and on other islands, (I’m sure) it’s funny to see it catch on in the Tampa
Bay area. They embrace like it’s new and while yes, it may be new to those who haven’t traveled or spent a weekend in
sun-splashed Montego Bay or on the floors of gritty Kingston dancehalls, it has been a part of island slang or Patois
for a long time.
gwaan – go
Now I could be wrong about the spelling. My friends who play in a local reggae band, Tribal Style like to stress the word by adding the letter ‘a’ more times
than one, but may also be seen simply as ‘gwan.‘ Similar words include ‘galang’ which means about the
same and most popularized recently by M.I.A. ‘Gwey’ means go away and can
be used as well to tell someone to scram or keep it moving.
You can expand your ‘Rasta Patois’ in several
ways. The most rewarding way is straight from the horse’s mouth, so you may wish to seek the knowledge from some West
Indian folks in your neighborhood. If you can’t learn anything that way due to the low number of West Indian peeps in
your circle, try watching films. The Rockers is an awesome
and entertaining starting point. The 25th anniversary edition DVD has great features, including a small Rasta Patois
dictionary. A good source on the net is Jamaicans dot com and Jahworks seems decent.
Patois words: satta