How to Talk Like a Rasta

Guyana is a land of diverse people – Indians, Africans, Portuguese, Chinese all brought to the Continent by colonial rulers. Needing a way to communicate, the slaves combined their language with the language of the rulers to form an entirely new language called Creolese. Creolese though oringally Dutch based shifted to an English based language (once the English threw the Dutch out) and is infused with words and phrases from various other languages.

A few simple steps will help you convert your English to a more swaggerlicious (stylish) Creolese. Add to this some dreadlocks and you’ll be ready for the Caribbean.

Pronouns

Don’t bother yourself with singular or plurals. They’re all interchangeable. Memorize the word that appeals to you the most in each category and stick with it.

  • I, Me – ah, me, mi, we, awi
  • You, your – yuh, ayu, allyuh
  • They, she, he – e, he, she, im, de, dem, aledem

Grammatical rules (in order of increasing difficulty)

Rule 1

End words with ‘in’ instead of ‘ing’.

Cookin. Talkin. Walkin. Childs play.

Rule 2

Replace ‘th’ with ‘d’. Drop the ‘th’ if this rule is too complicated.

‘The’ becomes ‘de or just ‘e’. Whatever makes you happy.

Rule 3

Insert ‘ah’ at the beginning of your sentence to buy you time to think.
Ah wah dah – what’s that?

Ah whey yuh bin – where’ve you been?

Rule 4

Repeat adjectives for emphasis.

Dis wata de cold cold – This water is very cold.

Rule 5

Replace ‘er’ with ‘a’.

Butter would become butta. You might’ve realized I said ‘wata’ in my last rule. Tricky.

Rule 6

Drop h’s at your own discretion.

Maths would become mats and him would be ‘im. I’ll make no false claims and admit that I’m still in the process of internalizing this rule.

Rule 7

If you’ve gotten this far, the world is your playground. Improvise at will.
‘I told him’ can be

  • I tol him
  • I told ‘im
  • I tell ‘im
  • Ah tell e
  • I tell e
  • Me tell em
  • And so on and so forth.

Once you’ve mastered these simple rules, its time to take it to the next level.

Phrases

Phrase Translation
Nah skin yer teet bai! Don’t laugh boy!
Wappening What’s happening
Dem ah watch me (this is Guyana’s unofficial National Anthem) They (neighbors) watch every move of mine and judge me. Mainly because there’s rubbish on TV.
Jus-now Eventually
Meh de pon de fone I’m on the phone

Just when you begin to understand what people are saying, they throw a proverb at you. And…you’re back to hitting your head against an easily accessible hard object.

Proverbs

Everyday buckit a go a well, wan day he battam drap out.
Translates to – everyday the bucket goes to the well, one day the bottom drops out.
Means – Repeated practices (good or bad) will have consequences (good or bad). Did you know that this phrase pops up in Bob Marley’s version of “I shot the sheriff“? Go listen.

Ugly pickney nah gat daddie.
Tranlates to – an ugly child does not have a father.
Means – If something goes wrong, most people will say “it wasn’t me”. In case you’re wondering, this phase is not related to “who’s your daddie.”

Orange yellow but yuh nah know if it sweet.
Translates to – A orange the is yellow isn’t necessarily sweet.
Means – don’t judge everything by appearances.

Guyanese proverbs are guaranteed to help you kill some time at the office.

As with all languages, if you want to sound like Captain Jack Sparrow (substitute your favorite Rasta-man’s name here) there’s only one way – practice, practice, practice!!

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58 Comments on “How to Talk Like a Rasta

    • Bob Marley wrote the song – I shot the sheriff..!! Clapton covered the song to popularize Bob Marley’s music

    • me tell em wappning. dem ah watch me, this is guyanas unofficial national Anthem. everyday buckit a go well wan day he battam drap out. overstand’

      • Mi bredren help mi I want to know how to speak rastafarian

  1. Pingback: Travel on the Cheap: Overland Trip from Guyana to Suriname | theOrangeMango

      • mih lov the jamrock linga.it mek mih hilee.nuff respect aledem bad bais.mih nah skin mih teet dem babylon

    • Sorry bob…Brither is guilty of theft on this occasion. Wappening is also shortened to wapen..

  2. Dude, just catching up on blogs etc over the break. This post propa cracked me up, well racist 🙂

  3. Hey Jason,

    checking out your blog after a while…this post is funny!
    I have to start practicing my rasta talk 🙂

  4. LOL try this one….”Learn fi dance a yaad before yu go abroad”. When you figure that out, let me know!

    • “Learn fi dance a yaad before yuh dance abraad?” I think someone told me to learn the basics of anything at home, like discipline and morals, then you won’t have to embarrass yourself when you start launching out in the big, wide world.

  5. And you pronounce ‘bacon’ like ‘beer can’

    I tell im me wanna beer can sanwich

  6. Jst filin irie fo takin mi time to learn rastafari language, ah jst belive i gonna speak it fluently

  7. me feeling iree wit de site. kip it up. i wan decode more of rasta language

  8. Power to de big temptin hard livin site mi uno a sey.
    Mi uno ah like dis ya site bredren.
    Large it up man, ya ah large bless fi dem people.
    Fire bless wi shutter n op keep de flame burnin.

    Tel em sey Boooooooom!!!!

  9. Greetings brethren, been s long time since I watch the dem peeps Inna me area regard most o’drm Rasta Inna me locality. I and I don say play time done, but boy dem nah act right. Me need a word from unu. Respect

  10. Dis cris. I-Man dun dweet but is nuff of it. Reespek to ayu Idren and Bredren

  11. Ah mi like dis site wel wel. As wel as mi like de riddim of reggae in da warm evenin of summa. Ah wahs mi peeps sayin?

  12. am sure Bob Marley was a true rasta man’s heart and a true reggae legend

  13. Wat a gwaan mi bredren¿ Mi dem a yah suh listenin fi dis big ting seh

  14. iz bin longer, biz wanting for dis lakcho. me fe ire, tekin em all from diz saite. blessing

  15. Jah man…. Mi love da rasta language man.. Me jst smoke a bit of ganja maan airiee

  16. Me smoke da indoor cronica ganja. My blessings to yo all.praise JAH. Rastafarian is a good ting

  17. InI ah fillin irie irie wid di site ah miya continue JAH JAH bless

  18. Ini a hail jah rastafari mi nuh hav nutten fi complain bout mi life irie

  19. Mi lub rasta dem,well well,ka mi feel irie wen dem say fiya bun babylon.

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