Friday, June 5, 2009

When Plantain Want Dead him Shoot

I'll have to hazard a guess as to what this well known Jamaican proverb means. Shoot means to put out fruit. Plantain is a cousin to bananas, it can be fried, boiled, roasted or used as a filling in pastry - not usually a pie, more likely plantain tart. It is sweet when ripe and has a mellow flavour. When green it is starchy and bland and the flavour is usually enhanced with salt, pepper, onion or garlic.

After a plantain plant bears and you harvest the fruit, you generally cut the plant down because it will eventually die anyway. If you are too lazy to cut the plant down, you are merely encumbering the ground and having this useless plant compete with productive ones for space and nutrients.

Now, to map an interpretation of the proverb directly to this, I'd have to say that when you feel you've lived long enough, just put on your best show. But strangely that's not how I've heard this saying used. Here is a context in which it might be used - young Susan is blossoming, vivacious and confident, maybe laughs too much in her granny's mind. Granny is worried that some man is is going to come along and pick her cherry (and as far as Granny can see) blight her whole future. So Granny seeing this, hrumphs and issues the cryptic warning; when plantain want dead him shoot.

Or here is another scenario Marlon is extra energetic today and he is up to all sorts of mischief and making a complete nuisance of himself. Pappa is quickly losing patience and will reach for a strap in a moment, but before he does so he prepares Marlon; when plantain want dead him shoot. If Marlon gets the message he will stop the tomfoolery.

Do they say anything like this in your neck of the woods?

13 comments:

Will said...

hmmm... i have no vincy frame of reference for this one... although i suppose: "monkey don't know the size of he asshole till he swallow plum seed" might work somehow... but then that may not be just a vincy one, may be regional... hmm...

Stephen Bess said...

Nope. My mother would just say, "Keep on here." :) That was enough. The only that I've heard close to that is "a hard head makes a soft behind." That was enough too.

I love what you've presented. Very cool and I've learned something.

Abeni said...

Will,you never heard "when ramgoat merry he get he balls cut"? That is in keping with the theme

Jacqueline Smith said...

Will,
Monkey features in a few of our sayings too. Interesting, 'cause we don't have monkeys in the region- a sign of how old some of these are.

Stephen,
Thanks for saying you enjoyed the post, I was worried that the post is too long, especially for West Indians who already know this stuff, but then I decided to cater to someone like you, glad I did.

Abeni,
As you say that I rememeber "Chicken merry hawk de near".

Abeni said...

St Kitts and Grenada have a lot of monkeys. There are quite a bit in Bdos too

Jacqueline Smith said...

Wow, I had no idea, thanks for letting me know. Were they brought here? I know the British brought mongoose and breadfruit to Jamaica.

Jacqueline Smith said...

Actaully those were snakes that the British brought- to eat the mongoose, who were damaging the cane.

Jdid said...

on another note i never knew that piece of trivia on cutting down plantain trees after they have borne fruit.

Jdid said...

oh and i think the mongoose was also introduced to get rid of rats or something like that and then became a pest themselves.

Ruthibelle said...

definitely reminds me of "chicken merry... hawk deh near!"

ESTEBAN AGOSTO REID said...

Great post !!

Daisy Soap Girl said...

There are so many of those Southern sayings but today I can't even think of one. All I can think of is "pride comes bfore a fall" but trying to figure out which relative used to say it. Anyway I love sweet plaintain & plaintain tarts but can't people to make them here. Tell me about the Sorrell. I'd love to hear about the flower.

Jacqueline Smith said...

Ok Daisy, hate to get you jealous, but I had a large jug of sorrell in the fridge this weekend! The operative word is had- two-twos the tribe had gulped it down. I saw it in the market at a reasonable price and couldn't leave it. I'll serve you up a post on sorrell one day.