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RASTA TALK

RASTA TALK, also Rasta, Dread Talk, Iyaric, I-lect, the language/speech of Rasta(fari). The usage of the Rastafarian community in the Caribbean, UK, US, and elsewhere, derived from JAMAICAN CREOLE, with elements from the Old Testament of the BIBLE and the black consciousness movement. Rastafarianism (also Rastafari, Rastafaria; informal Rasta, Ras) originated among the poor in Jamaica in the 1930s. Haile Selassie is regarded as the incarnation of God (Jah), through whom, despite his death in 1975, the faithful of the black diaspora will be taken out of Babylon (the oppressive white power system) to the promised land of Ethiopia. Since the 1960s, young middle-class people have also been included among their number.

Rastas reject both STANDARD ENGLISH and CREOLE; their alternative usage emerged in the 1940s as an argot among alienated young men, became a part of Jamaican youth culture, and has been significant in the growth and spread of DUB poetry and REGGAE music. A major syntactic difference from Creole is the use of the stressed English pronoun I (often repeated for emphasis and solidarity as I and I) to replace Creole mi, which is used for both subject and object. Mi is seen as a mark of black subservience that makes people objects rather than subjects. The form I and I may also stand for we and for the movement itself:
I and I have fi check hard … It change I … now I and I [eat] jus' patty, hardo bread, from Yard (New York Magazine, 4 Nov. 1973).

[I was greatly affected … It changed me … Now I only eat patties, hard-dough bread, from Jamaica (a reference to Rasta vegetarianism).]
At the same time I fully know why leaders of societies have taken such a low view of I n I reality. They hold Rasta as dangerous to their societies ( Jah Bones , ‘Rastafari: A Cultural Awakening’, appendix to E. E. Cashmore , The Rastafarians, Minority Rights Group Report 64, 1984)
.Because of its significance as a mark of self-respect and solidarity, I often replaces syllables in mainstream words: I-lect Rasta dialect, Iyaric (by analogy with Amharic) Rasta language, I-cient ancient, I-man amen, I-nointed anointed, I-quality equality, I-sanna hosanna, I-thiopia Ethiopia. Other items of vocabulary are: control to keep, take, look after, dreadlocks hair worn long in rope-like coils (to signify membership of the group), dub a piece of reggae music, rhythmic beat, queen a girlfriend, Rastaman a male, adult Rastafarian, reason hard to argue, sufferer a ghetto-dweller, trod to walk away, leave, weed of wisdom and chalice (by analogy with Holy Communion) marijuana, ganja (regarded as a sacred herb). Rasta word-play includes the etymology Jah mek ya (God made here) for Jamaica, and the adaptations blindjaret for cigarette (pronounced ‘see-garet’) and higher-stand in preference to understand.

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