Jamaican sayings: with notes on folklore, aesthetics, and social control
“A rich and compelling collection that will make a significant contribution to the study of Jamaican/West Indian/black folklore and culture” –Daryl Cumber Dance, Virginia Commonwealth University “A fantastic collection from the rich storehouse of Jamaican traditional oral literature” –Rex Nettleford, University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica “A Wealth of Information…. The author carries the presentation of the proverbs/sayings to the level of socio-anthropological significance” –E. Valerie Smith, Florida A&M University In 1992, Jamaicans throughout the world celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Jamaica’s formal independence from Britain this collection of Creole sayings contributes to the lively interest in cultural preservation which exists this year in anticipation of the event. The sayings, an archive of the wit and wisdom of many generations, aim to trigger reflection and thought. They are never fully explained, and, says the author, “in the most extreme situation one might well need an entire week to ponder and think seriously” about their meaning. They exert pressure to conform to community standards, and they influence conduct in much the same way as religion does. Strong in imagery and often poetic, the maxims draw upon a variety of well-known flora, fauna, and real or imaginary creatures the anansi, for example, famous for “playin’ de fool fe ketch wise” (playing foolish in order to catch the wise), is regarded as a favorite hero in folklore. Creole, initially constructed as a coded language, employs a number of West African linguistic traditions. These Creole sayings, a valuable addition to the literature and ethnography of the Caribbean region, link Jamaican culture to its African past. They offer delightful reading to Latin American scholars, to students of comparative sociology and anthropology, and to the general public. G. Llewellyn Watson is professor of sociology at the University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetowwn, Canada.
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