Roasta's Harangue

Collected by Peter L. Patrick

 

The following text is excerpted from an argument between "Roasta" and "B.", two close, old friends. Both of them are young men in their 20s, members of a Youth Club I studied in 'Veeton', a pseudonymous urban neighborhood of Kingston, Jamaica. [For more info on the Veeton study, please see my book 'Urban Jamaican Creole', 1998, from John Benjamins Publishers, Amsterdam and Philadelphia.] I taped the interaction from the back seat of B.'s car while they rode in the front (you can hear the engine noise on the audio version!). Most of the eleven-minute argument took the form of a dialogue, but the portion here transcribed is a harangue by Roasta, delivered at great speed and volume and with considerable feeling. Roasta defends his proposal for raising funds to help out a fellow member of the Youth Club cricket team, whose house was recently destroyed by arson.

  First is a free translation into colloquial English, to orient you to the content. A line-by-line transcription in Jamaican Creole follows; below each of the numbered lines is a word-for-word gloss, using literal English equivalents. Items glossed as **** are JC curse words with no literal English equivalents; [2pl] indicates a second-person plural morpheme with West African antecedents (similar to Southern American y'all); siin is an affirmative particle (like 'OK'). [Prog] marks the progressive aspect morpheme; the question-mark symbol ? represents a glottal stop. The excerpt is 45 seconds long. The transcription is not intended to be strictly phonemic.

 

First, a free translation:

ROASTA:

No, man! I was talking about that with my friend first, man, even tonight now I-

Line 2

You guys pretend like, Boy, you couldn't even give the man three hundred damn dollars.

3

But what I'm saying is, that you guys pretend you bloody respect the man, and

4

When it comes to the nitty-gritty and you're asking a man for a dollar, he can't find-

5

Then, B., your house burns down, ok? Let me ask you something.

6

Your friends come together and scrape up something, ok?

7

Remember, a house doesn't cost ten thousand dollars any more, you know, boss!

8

If it's houses you're talking about, the cheapest house you can get

9

must be about seventy-five thousand dollars, you know.

10

That's when you can (use your connections too), you know.

11

If you just go BUY a house, for about a hundred thousand dollars,

12

That is one of the cheapest houses, you know. So when you do some figuring,

13

even giving a man five thousand dollars, is just a drop in the bucket.

14

You're only giving him enough money so he can buy a bed and buy something else.

15

So, I know if I can even find about fourteen of the cricketers, ok?

16

Fourteen times three hundred... is roughly, it's not even five thousand, but I'm saying---

B.:

-- Then aren't you going to have to lower your sights?

 

 

Roasta's Harangue: Transcription (and Gloss)

Roasta:

Noo, man! Mi an di man fos taak boo dat, man, aa sins nait nau mi---

 

 

No, man! Me and the man first talk about that, man, all since night now me---

 

Line 2

Unu gwaan laik se bwai, unu kudn blod-baat gi i man chii ondred dala.

 

 

[2pl] go on like say boy, [2pl] couldn't *** *** give the man three hundred dollar.

 

3

Wa mi a se, da unu man da gwaan laik se dem blod-baat rispek di man an,

 

 

What me [Prog] say, that [2pl] man Prog go on like say them **** **** respect the man and,

 

4

Wen yu kom tu di niti-griti an yu da aks a man fi a dala im kyaan fain--

 

 

When you come to the nitty-gritty and you [Prog] ask a man for a dollar him can't find--

 

5

Den B., yuur ?oos bon dong noo, siin? Mek mi aks yu som?m.

 

 

Then B., your house burn down now, [ok]? Let me ask you something.

 

6

Yuur bredrin-dem kom tugeda an lik som?m tu blord-liis stil, siin?

 

 

Your brethren-them come together and slap something to *** **** still, [ok]?

 

7

Memba, a ?oos no kaas ten toozan dala agen, yu nuo, baas!

 

 

(Re)member, a house no cost ten thousand dollar again, you know, boss!

 

8

A ?oos yu a luk pan, di chiipis ?oos yu kyan get

 

 

A house you [Prog] look upon, the cheapest house you can get

 

9

a mus bi boot sevinti-faiv toozan dala, yu nuo.

 

 

is must be about seventy-five thousand dollar, you know.

 

10

Dat a wen taim yu afi jogl op som?m stil, yu nuo.

 

 

That is when time you have to juggle up something still, you know

 

11

F yu a go bai a ?oos f a onjred-ad toozan dala,

 

 

If you [gonna] buy a house for a hundred-odd thousand dollars,

 

12

Dat a wan a di chiipis ?oos, yu nuo. So wen yu du som buk pon it,

 

 

That is one of the cheapest house, you know. So when you do some book upon it,

 

13

Gi aal a man faiv toozan dala, iz jos a jrap in di bokit.

 

 

Giving all a man five thousand dollar, is just a drop in the bucket.

 

14

Y ongl a gi im a moni im kuda kyan bai a bed an bai som?m stil.

 

 

You only [Prog] give him a money him could can buy a bed and buy something still.

 

15

So, mi no nuo se aboot fuortiin a hu mi kyan fain az kriketaz stil, siin?

 

 

So, me no know say about fourteen of who me can find as cricketers still, [ok]?

 

16

Fuortiin chriiz... a rofli, it na iivn riich faiv toozan, bot mi se---

 

 

Fourteen threes... is roughly, it no even reach five thousand, but me say---

 

B.:

-- Den ow yu naa afi bwail dong?

 

 

-- Then how you no have to boil down?

 

 

[JC-U44a, collected November 9, 1989 by Peter L. Patrick in Kingston.

T'anks and much respect to Roasta an' B.!]