Tuesday, January 17, 2006

English.... kinda

No, really. One of the things I love about English is that wherever it’s spoken in the world (as both a native language and otherwise) it’s never the same. Today, my 11th grade private student, who has a fondness for reggae and Jamaican hip-hop, asked me to write down the lyrics to a song. The song turned out to be Mattafix’s Big City Life, one of my own favorites, and a personal theme here in Hungary - mostly for the irony: although most of us are trying to beat the system in one way or another, none but one is really living a big city life. And even her, barely.

All right, so here’s the problem: I’ve also puzzled over the lyrics of this song, because even after looking them up, I still didn’t fully understand them. The refrain contains the following lines:

Don’t let the system get you down...
Big city life, me try fi get by,
Pressure nah ease up no matter how hard me try.
Big city life, here my heart have no base,
And right now Babylon de pon me case.

So, (not that this is of any interest to you, but obviously you’re bored or you wouldn’t even have read this far), I spent my evening researching Jamaican English. In addition to having grammatical rules where subject and object personal pronouns are interchangeable, they also have quite a few unique words and cultural references, mostly due to the Rastafarian influence on the language. All right, I’ll stop sermonizing and go to bed. Long story short, Marlon Roudette (the singing half of Mattafix) lives in a big city, with a lot a pressure all the time; he’s just a guy trying to make it by, but the cops are always on his case. And HOT DAMN, have you seen the video?? If Robbie Williams won’t let me be his slave, Marlon is second. Now really, good night.

ps this picture came from a Hungarian website and the caption there was "Változatos és finom." Look it up... it's a useful phrase.


Laura said...

I am already his slave so sorry stick with Robbie.

Kat said...

Just downloaded this song and I haven't really researched the lyrics as ambitiously as you have, but it's a great song to dance to alone in your apt.

rich said...

Please tell me what "Változatos és finom" means? All I can get is "Fine and manifold?" Does it not translate to English well?