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 SHOOTOUT IN THE BARBERSHOP

Collected by Peter L. Patrick

Jamaican Creole Transcription

 

I recorded this narrative November 12, 1989, in one of the two rooms shared by Dinah and her daughter Olive [all names are pseudonyms] in their 'yard', in the self-described 'ghetto' area of Gullyside. [See my 1999 book, Urban Jamaican Creole, for a detailed description of the neighbourhood I studied in Kingston.] Dinah, 46, worked as a domestic servant; Olive, 24, was an office worker. The InterViewer is myself, Peter Patrick ("IV" below).

Dinah is recalling the difficult and dangerous time people in her area of East Kingston experienced during the run-up to Jamaica's 1980 elections, in which political violence was common.

The narrative of 51 lines is followed by a line-by-line translation. A linguistic description, using illustrations from this narrative and keyed to the line numbers below, of 12 features thought to be characteristic of Creoles, is here.

[NB: /ə/ is schwa, while /ʌ/ is the 'wedge' vowel -- in case IPA symbols don't show up correctly on your browser.]

1

Dinah:

wen im se 'go', yu haf tu go. wen im se 'shuut', jʌs shuut.

2

 

? [ksst] bad man dem taim de, man!

3

IV:

dem wʌz bad man bifuor dee get ina di palitiks, ?

4

Dinah:

iinhiin, de(m) , (m)i nuo. . . likl bai likl . . . yes . . .

5

Olive:

yes, staat bifuor palitiks man, kaz dem yuus tu riep an tingz laik dat.

6

Dinah:

bʌt tu tuu, bʌt nou wen yu sii dem kya(ng) get mVni

7

 

an dem sii wie dem kyang get mʌni fi kil a man,

8

 

dem mek dem get bada . . . y'anastan, bikaa laik se nou,

9

 

mi kya(ng) get aal sʌm kʌpl toozan fi go kil aaf da big man de,

10

 

dem pie mi fi go kil im aaf, . . .

11

 

dem taim de, mi tingk dem a tek kuok tuu no . .

12

 

mhm, kaa dem man-de jʌs vishʌs no . . .

13

 

a waan tel yu sʌmting, wan nait yu sii . . .

14

 

ai yuus tu waak kʌm dʌng di ruod, lef dem chiljren ʌpa di hoos an,

15

 

de(n) waak kʌm dʌn a dis ais kriim plees, likl bit batamsaid di hoos, an . . .

16

 

taakin tu di man, im wəz a baaba nuo,

17

 

im chrim an im sel ais kriim an du evriting . . .

18

 

a(n) wi onli hiyr a kyar kʌmin ʌp di ruod,

19

 

BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA, pyur gʌnshat, an yu nuo wa wi du, ins-

20

 

aal huu insaid a di man likl- plees,di ais kriim plie,

21

 

daiv dʌng pan di grʌng an im shet ʌp di duar,

22

 

an a big man no, a neva sii a big man baal so in aal mi laif,

23

 

di man put im ed pan i- i han pan i hed yi sii piita,

24

 

an staat baal fi mərda no . . . bikaz-

25

 

di piipl dem insaid di chərch, y'av a glas chərch hʌp die,

26

 

a do no if wen yu raid kʌmin dʌn yu sii a glas chərch, a-

27

 

di liedi ova dier we yuus tu priich, wi kaal ar mada wait,

28

 

di- di paasa fi di chərch, shi ded nou . . .

29

 

di huol chərch lak ʌp, an lak aaf di lait imidiyetli,

30

 

a(n) evribadi lai dʌn pan di fluor pan dem beli . . .

31

 

pyur gʌnshat kʌmin ʌp, wan kyar no an im pyur gʌnshat,

32

 

dem jʌs a faiy- PLOM-PLOM-PLOM-PLOM-PLOM, lef rait an senta-

33

IV:

aatamatik an aal de-

34

Dinah:

yes, an mi tel yu, yu sii man . . . iz- yu hav a gai hʌp dier so,

35

 

im sidʌn pan da ais baks widoot fut, is so im get shat ʌp.

36

 

dem shat im, an . . . mash ʌp di wuol a im fut

37

 

im uonl an wan fut nou, an di piis kʌt aaf,

38

 

, if yu hoot pan di ruod an dat kyar jraivin,

39

 

an a man jʌs a faiya shat, im biznis huu it kyach,

40

 

kaa im insaid a di kyar, an, dem nuo

41

 

i(m)- i- k- wi kya(n) faiya bak tu an kyach im, bʌt dem a bad man . . .

42

 

a tel yu sii, a krai di nait, an den nou iyr mi,

43

 

'Gosh, luk oo ai kʌm oot a di oos

44

 

'an lef Aliv-dem nou hʌp a di yaad,

45

 

'mi dʌn yiyr so lai dʌn, dem yiyr di shat,

46

 

'dem mʌs bi a lai dʌn pan dem beli hʌp a di hoos tu'

47

 

so yu kya(n) jʌs imajin man . . . i teribl man,

48

 

a wudn laik ekspiyryens nʌtn laik dat agen, . . .

49

 

no sa, a do(n) waa(n) ekspiyryens dem ting de . . .

50

IV:

wai dee wuda jʌs kʌm in an sprie shat pan d-

51

Dinah:

dis iylekshan wa did gaan, do(n) aks if we neva prie fi piis . . .

 

 

SHOOTOUT IN THE BARBERSHOP: Translation

1

Dinah:

When he said "Go", you had to go. When he said "Shoot", you just shot.

2

 

You know? [kisses teeth] (There were) bad guys (in) those times, man!

3

IV:

So they were bad guys before they got into the politics, no?

4

Dinah:

Mmhm, they were, I don't know . . . Little by little . . . Yes . . .

5

Olive:

Yes, starting from before politics man cause they used to rape and things like that

6

Dinah:

But not too too, but now when you see they could get money,

7

 

and they saw where they could get money to kill a man,

8

 

they made them get worse . . . You understand, because like say now,

9

 

I could get even a couple thousand to go kill off that big man there,

10

 

they pay me to go kill him off, so . . .

11

 

Those times, I think they were taking coke too, you know . . .

12

 

Mhm, because those men (were) just vicious, you know!

13

 

I want (to) tell you something, one night, you see . . .

14

 

I used to walk down the road (here), leave the children up at the house and

15

 

then walk down to this ice cream place (here), a little below the house, and ...

16

 

Talking to the man, he was a barber you know,

17

 

he (would) trim and he (would) sell ice cream and do everything.

18

 

And we just heard a car coming up the road,

19

 

BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA, pure gunshots. And you know what we did, ins-

20

 

everyone who (was) inside of the man's little- place, the ice cream place,

21

 

dived down on the ground and he shut up the door,

22

 

and (he was) a big man, you know! I never saw a big man cry so in all my life,

23

 

the man put his head on his- his hands on his head you see Peter

24

 

and started to yell murder, you know . . Because-

25

 

the people inside the church, (there is) a glass church up there,

26

 

I don't know if when you ride coming down you saw a glass church, a-

27

 

the lady over there who used to preach, we called her Mother White,

28

 

the- the pastor for the church, she('s) dead now. .

29

 

The whole church (was) locked up and the light (was) turned off immediately,

30

 

and everybody lay down on the floor on their bellies . . .

31

 

Pure gunshots (were) coming up, one car you know, and he- pure gunshots,

32

 

they (were) just firing- PLUM-PLUM-PLUM-PLUM, left right and center-

33

IV:

Automatic and all-

34

Dinah:

Yes, and I tell you, you see, man! It's- you have a guy up there,

35

 

he (always) sits on theicebox without a foot, (that)'s how he got shot up . . .

36

 

They shot him and . . . destroyed the whole of his foot,

37

 

so he only (has) one foot now, and the piece (was) cut off.

38

 

So, if you (were) out on the road and that car (was) driving,

39

 

and a man (was) just firing shots, not caring who it caught,

40

 

cause he was inside of the car, and they didn't know-

41

 

we might fire back too and catch him, but they were bad guys . . .

42

 

I tell you, you see, I cried the night, and then now hear me:

43

 

"Gosh, look how I came out of the house

44

 

"and left Olive and the others now up at the yard,

45

 

"I'm down here lying down, they heard the shots,

46

 

"they must be lying down on their bellies up at the house too",

47

 

so you can just imagine, man. It was terrible man,

48

 

I wouldn't like to experience anything like that again y'know . . .

49

 

No sir, I don't want to experience those things . . .

50

IV:

Why would they just come in and spray shots on th-

51

Dinah:

This (last) election, don't ask if we (didn't) pray for peace . . .

 

[Interview #VTA-15.2. Tape #JC-U45A-29:20 to 32:20. Collected 11/12/89 by Peter L. Patrick in Kingston]

 

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Last updated on 25 February 2002