This is turmeric.
It is a plant that is scientifically named Curcuma longa. Its roots are ground into a powder that is an ingredient in the making of curry.
But I first happened upon it when I was looking into baking, and saw it as an ingredient. So, I started asking around. I asked my friends if they knew it.
“Turmeric?” they’d ask. “What’s that…? You mean, ‘tumeric’?”
“No… It’s turmeric. T-U-R…”
And this went on for a short while until I realised… They’re one and the same.
In Jamaica, it’s tumeric.
Even many the most primly English-speaking Jamaicans call it this. One of my friends used to go to a (often enough) restaurant where he could see ‘turmeric’ on a poster and he still called it ‘tumeric’. And another friend who is now in Canada told me as I type this post, “I thought it was tumeric all along! Didn’t know it was turmeric until I got here!”
For those who believe that Jamaican language is automatically improper language, this might post a problem. But hey, it’s already ingrained, so what to do? 🙂
Whether this first appeared in Jamaican English, then influenced Patois or the other way around, I think it’s safe to say this is a Jamaican language innovation. And for some reason, that makes me smile inside.