Two spelling systems are used for the Jamaican language below. The first, which I call ‘chaka-chaka’, is based on English spelling. The second, ‘prapa-prapa’, is the specialist system designed by the Jamaican linguist Frederic Cassidy. It has been updated by the Jamaican Language Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona. After the two Jamaican versions, there’s an English translation.
Unu member di story bout di emperor new clothes? A one a dem parable weh tell yu di truth bout human nature. Like Aesop fable. Or fi wi Anansi story. Di emperor story come back to mi couple week aback when mi read Gleaner an see seh ‘Holness saves big on house – Opposition leader outlines benefits of hands-on approach to home construction’.
Mi seh to miself, dat a whole heap a ‘hands-on’. Andrew seh im do mason work an woodwork fi di house. So a how much dat save? Im wuda ha fi do nuff-nuff mason work fi help build dat deh hell of a wall front a di house. An im wouldn’t have no much more time lef fi do no odder work.
Wen mi tink bout it, inna disya time, fi wi lickle dollar no worth nutten. Fifty-two million dollar fi build dat deh house? Dat a lickle or nutten! Di blind can see seh dat a one expensive house. So wa mek some a wi can’t seet?
Anyhow, hear how di emperor new clothes story go. Im did love fi dress up inna pretty clothes an moggle. Two bandooloo tailor decide fi tek im mek poppyshow. Dem go a di palace an tell im seh dem can mek one suit fi im outa cloth weh so light an fine, lickle most yu can’t seet. In fact, if yu fool-fool an incompetent, yu can’t seet at all.
Di emperor seh to himself a now mi a go find out who inna di empire nah do no work an dis a form di fool. So im gi di tailor dem one bag a gold fi start build di suit. Couple week after, im send im prime minister fi go see how di suit a come on. Di tailor dem show im di cloth. Im can’t see nutten.
Im no know how fi go tell di emperor. Cau dat mean seh im incompetent. So im tell im seh di cloth pretty-pretty. Wen di tailor dem done an bring di suit an di emperor tek off im clothes fi fit it, everybody look pon di naked man an seh how im birthday suit lovely.
Di tailor dem so wicked dem tell di emperor seh di people dem outa road hear bout di cloth an waan seet. An di fool-fool emperor lef im yard naked, naked. An chruu di people dem hear seh if yu dunce, yu can’t see di cloth, everybody bawl out seh di cloth pretty.
ONE LICKLE PIKNI
A ongle one lickle pikni, weh no ha no big job fi protect, so im no mind if people tink seh im incompetent, a im bawl out seh, ‘di emperor no got on no clothes!’ Im father tell im fi shut up. An drag im weh. But di people dem see seh a true di pikni a talk. Di man no got on no clothes. An di emperor shame-shame. But im decide fi brazen it out till im ketch back a im yard.
Wi a wait fi one lickle pikni bawl out seh di emperor house cost nof, nof, nof, nof money? So wa mek wi a gwaan like seh a no so? Wi fraid people tink seh wi fool-fool an incompetent? Wi can’t see an blind an hear an deaf. Wi ha fi talk di naked truth.
An by di way, mi know seh plenty people a build house a Jamaica wuda love fi get line a credit fi building material. But dem no lucky laik Andrew an Juliet. Jackass seh di world no level. Mek mi lef it. Mi no waan nobody seh a bad-mind an grudgeful mek mi a talk bout di house. Jack Mandora mi no choose none!
Unu memba di stuori bout di empara nyuu kluoz? A wan a dem parabl we tel yu di chruut bout yuu man niecha. Laik Aesop fiebl. Ar fi wi Anansi stuori. Di empara stuori kom bak tu mi kopl wiik abak wen mi riid Gleaner an si se ‘Holness saves big on house – Opposition leader outlines benefits of hands-on approach to home construction’.
Mi se tu miself, dat a uol iip a ‘hands-on’. Andrew se im du miesn work an wudwork fi di ous. So a omoch dat siev? Im wuda a fi du nof-nof miesn work fi elp bil dat de el ev a waal front a di ous. An im wudn av no moch muor taim lef fi du no ada work.
Wen mi tingk bout it, ina disya taim, fi wi likl dala no wort notn. Fifti-tuu milyan dala fi bil dat de ous? Dat a likl ar notn! Di blain kyahn si se dat a wan ekspensiv ous. So wa mek som a wi kyaahn siit?
Eniou, ier ou di empara nyuu kluoz stuori go. Im did lov fi jres op iiina priti kluoz an mogl. Tuu banduulu tiela disaid fi tek im mek papishuo. Dem go a di palis an tel im se dem kyahn mek wan suut fi im outa klaat we so lait an fain, likl muos yu kyaahn siit. In fak, if yu fuul-fuul an inkompitent, yu kyaahn siit at aal.
Di empara se tu imself a nou mi a go fain out uu ina di empaiya naa du no wok an dis a faam di fuul. So im gi di tiela dem wan bag a guol fi staat bil di suut. Kopl wiik aafta, im sen im praim minista fi go si ou di suut a kom aan. Di tiela dem shuo im di klaat. Im kyaahn si notn.
Im no nuo ou fi go tel di empara. Kaa dat miin se im inkompitent. So im tel im se di klaat priti-priti. Wen di tiela dem don an bring di suut an di empara tek aaf im kluoz fi fit it, evribadi luk pan di niekid man an se ou im bortdie suut lovli.
Di tiela dem so wikid, dem tel di empara se di piipl dem outa ruod ier bout di klaat an waahn siit it. An di fuul-fuul empara lef im yaad niekid, niekid. An chruu di piipl dem ier se if yu dons yu kyaahn si di klaat, evribadi baal out se di klaat priti.
WAN LIKL PIKNI
A ongl wan likl pikni, we no a no big jab fi protek, so im no main if piipl tingk se im inkompitent, a im baal out se, ‘di empara no gat aan no kluoz!’ Im faada tel im fi shot op. An jrag im we. Bot di piipl dem si se a chruu di pikni a taak. Di man no gat aan no kluoz. An di empara shiem-shiem. Bot im disaid fi briezn it out til im kech bak a im yaad.
Wi a wiet fi wan likl pikni baal out se di empara ous kaas nof, nof, nof, nof moni? So wa mek wi a gwaahn laik se a no so? Wi fried piipl tingk se wi fuul-fuul an inkompitent? Wi kyaahn si an blain an ier an def. Wi a fi taak di niekid chruut.
An bai di wie, mi nuo se plenti piipl a bil ous a Jamieka wuda lov fi get lain a kredit fi bildin matiiryal. Bot dem no loki laik Andrew an Juliet. Jakaas se di worl no levl. Mek mi lef it. Mi no waahn nobadi se a bad-main an grojful mek mi a taak bout di ous. Jak Manduora mi no chuuz non!
Do you remember the story about the emperor’s new clothes? It’s one of those parables that tell the truth about human nature. Like Aesop’s fables. Or our anansi stories. The story about the emperor came back to me a couple of weeks ago when I read a Gleaner report that said, ‘Holness saves big on house – Opposition leader outlines benefits of hands-on approach to home construction’.
I said to myself, that’s a whole lot of ‘hands-on’. Andrew said he did both masonry and woodwork for the house. So how much did that save? He would have had to do lots of masonry in order to help build that massive wall in front of the house. And he wouldn’t have had much time left over to do any other job.
When I think about it, these days when our weak dollar isn’t worth much. Fifty-two million dollars to build that house? That’s little or nothing! The blind can see that that’s one expensive house. So why can’t some of us see it?
Anyhow, here’s how the story of the emperor’s new clothes goes. He loved to dress up in pretty clothes and show off. Two trickster tailors decided to take him for a ride. They went to the palace and told him they could make an outfit for him out out cloth so light and fine that it was almost invisible. In fact, if you were idiotic and incompetent, you wouldn’t be able to see it at all.
The emperor said to himself now I’m going to find out who in the empire isn’t doing any work and just forming the fool. So he gave the tailors quite a lot of gold to start making the outfit. A few weeks later, he sent his prime minister to see how the clothes were coming along. The tailors showed him the cloth. He couldn’t see a thing.
He didn’t know how to tell the emperor. Because that would mean he was incompetent. So he told him that the cloth was very beautiful. When the tailors finished the outfit and brought it and the emperor took off his clothes to fit it, everybody took a look at the naked man and said how lovely his birthday suit was.
The tailors were so wicked, they told the emperor that his subjects had heard about the cloth and wanted tp see it. And the foolish emperor went out of the palace start naked. And because the people had heard that if you’re a dunce, you wouldn’t be able to see the cloth, everybody exclaimed that the cloth was pretty.
ONE LITTLE CHILD
It was only one little child, who had no big job to protect, so he didn’t mind if anyone thought he was incompetent, who cried out, ‘the emperor doesn’t have on any clothes!’ His father told him to shut up. And dragged him way. But the people saw that the child was speaking the truth. The man was naked. And the emperor was very ashamed. But he decided to put on a good face until he got back home.
We are waiting for a little child to cry out and say that the emperor’s house costs lots and lots and lots of money? So why are we pretending that it’s not so? Are we afraid it will look as if we’re foolish and incompetent? We can’t see and pretend to be blind and hear and play deaf. We have to speak the naked truth.
And by the way, I know that lots of people who are building houses in Jamaica would love to get line of credit for building materials. But they’re not as lucky as Andrew and Juliet. Jackass says the world isn’t level. Let me leave it alone. I don’t want it to be said that I’m mean-spirited and envious and that’s why I’m talking about the house. That’s the way the story goes!