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Encyclopedia > Jamaican English

Jamaican English or Jamaican Standard English is a dialect of English encompassing in a unique way, parts and mergers of both American English and British English dialects. Typically it uses British English spellings but does not reject American English spellings.[1] Standard English is a controversial term used to denote a form of written and spoken English that is thought to be normative for educated users. ... A dialect (from the Greek word διάλεκτος, dialektos) is a variety of a language characteristic of a particular group of the languages speakers. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... For other uses, see American English (disambiguation). ... British English (BrE) is a broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere. ...


Although the distinction between the two is best described as a continuum rather than a solid line,[2] it is not to be confused with what linguists call Jamaican Creole, nor with the vocabulary and language usage of the Rastafarian movement.[3] ("Patois" is a French term referring to regional languages of France, which include some creole languages, but in Jamaica it refers to Jamaican Creole, which Jamaicans have traditionally seen as "broken" or incorrect Standard English). Jamaican is generally considered to be a Creole language. Most modern linguists hold the view that Creoles are full languages. Jamaican Creole, also known locally as Patois/(Patwa) or simply Jamaican, is an English/African-based language --not to be confused with Jamaican English nor with the Rastafarian use of English-- used primarily on the island of Jamaica. ... Haile Selassie I Rasta, or the Rastafari movement, is a religion and philosophy that accepts Haile Selassie I, the former Emperor of Ethiopia, as God incarnate, whom they call Jah. ... Patois, although without a formal definition in linguistics, can be used to describe a language considered as nonstandard. ... There are a number of languages of France. ... A creole language, or simply a creole, is stable language that originated from a non-trivial combination of two or more languages, typically with many features that are not inherited from any parent. ...

Contents

Grammar

Jamaican Standard English is grammatically similar to British Standard English (see British English). Recently, however, due to Jamaica's proximity to the United States and the resulting close economic ties and high rates of migration (as well as the ubiquity of American cultural/entertainment products such as movies, cable television and popular music) the influence of American English has been increasing steadily. As a result, structures like "I don't have" or "you don't need" are almost universally preferred over "I haven't got" or "you needn't". British English (BrE) is a broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere. ... mtDNA-based chart of large human migrations. ... A stilt-walker entertaining shoppers at a shopping centre in Swindon, England Entertainment is an event, performance, or activity designed to give pleasure or relaxation to an audience (although, for example, in the case of a computer game the audience may be only one person). ... Coaxial cable is often used to transmit cable television into the house. ... Popular music is music belonging to any of a number of musical styles that are accessible to the general public and are disseminated by one or more of the mass media. ...


Vocabulary

Recent American influence is even more obvious in the lexicon (babies sleep in "cribs" and wear "diapers" [or "pampers"]; some people live in "apartments" or "townhouses", for example). Generally, older vocabulary tends to be British (babies wear "nappies", not "diapers"; cars have "bonnets" and "windscreens"; children study "maths", use "rubbers" to erase their mistakes and wish they were on "holiday"), while newer phenomena are typically "imported" together with their American names. Look up lexicon in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


An interesting use of mixed British and American vocabulary is with automobiles, where the American term "trunk" is almost universally used instead of the British term "boot", the British word "sleeping policeman" is used instead of the American word "Speed Bump" , while the engine covering is always referred to by the British term "bonnet". This is probably because the American term, "hood", is used in Jamaica as a vulgar slang for penis, probably as an abbreviation of "manhood".


Naturally, Jamaican Standard also uses many local words borrowed from Jamaican Creole (such as "duppy" for "ghost"; "higgler" for "informal vendor"; and of course lots of words referring to local produce and food items - "ackee", "callaloo", "guinep", "bammy"). Jamaican Creole, also known locally as Patois/(Patwa) or simply Jamaican, is an English/African-based language --not to be confused with Jamaican English nor with the Rastafarian use of English-- used primarily on the island of Jamaica. ... Binomial name Blighia sapida K.D.Koenig The Ackee or Akee (Blighia sapida) is a member of the Sapindaceae (soapberry family), native to tropical West Africa in Cameroon, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote DIvoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo... Amaranth Taro Xanthosoma Philadelphia Pepper Pot. ... Binomial name Melicoccus bijugatus Jacq. ...


Pronunciation

Main article: Phonemic differentiation.

The most noticeable aspect of Jamaican English for speakers of other varieties of English is the pronunciation or "accent". In many ways, the accent bears great resemblance to that of southern Ireland, particularly Cork, possibly a remnant of Jamaica's former colonial ties. Jamaican Standard pronunciation, while it differs greatly from Jamaican Creole pronunciation, is nevertheless recognizably Caribbean. Giveaway features include the characteristic pronunciation of the diphthong in words like "cow", which is more closed and rounded than in Standard British or American English; the pronunciation of the open-mid back unrounded vowel (IPA: [ʌ], like in "but")(again, more closed than the SB or AE version, though not as closed as in the Creole); semi-rhoticity, i.e. the dropping of the "-r" in words like "water" (at the end of unstressed syllables) and "market" (before a consonant); but not in words like "car" or "dare" (stressed syllables at the end of the word). Merger of the diphthongs in "fair" and "fear" takes place both in Jamaican Standard and Jamaican Creole, resulting in those two words (and many others, like "bear" and "beer") becoming homophones. (Standard speakers typically pronounce both closer to "air", while Creole speakers render them as "ear"). The short "a" sound (man, hat) is very open, similar to its Irish or Scottish versions. Phonemic differentiation is the phenomenon of a phoneme in a language splitting into two phonemes over time, a process known as a phonemic split. ... Look up pronunciation in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Statistics Province: Munster County Town: Cork Code: C (CK proposed) Area: 7,457 km² Population (2006) 480,909 (including City of Cork); 361,766 (without Cork City) Website: www. ... West Indian redirects here. ... In phonetics, a diphthong (also gliding vowel) (Greek δίφθογγος, diphthongos, literally with two sounds, or with two tones) is a monosyllabic vowel combination involving a quick but smooth movement from one vowel to another, often interpreted by listeners as a single vowel sound or phoneme. ... Vowels Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open Where symbols appear in pairs, the one to the right represents a rounded vowel. ... Not to be confused with the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... English pronunciation is divided into two main accent groups, the rhotic and the non-rhotic, depending on when the letter r (equivalent to Greek rho) is pronounced. ... This article discusses the unit of speech. ... In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a sound in spoken language that is characterized by a closure or stricture of the vocal tract sufficient to cause audible turbulence. ... Homonyms (in Greek homoios = identical and onoma = name) are words which have the same form (orthographic/phonetic) but unrelated meaning. ...


Language use: Standard versus Creole

Jamaican Standard and Jamaican Creole exist side by side in the island in a typical diglossic pattern (see diglossia). Creole is used by most people for everyday, informal situations - it's the language most Jamaicans use at home and are most familiar with (and is closest to their hearts); it's also the language of most local popular music. Standard, on the other hand, is the language of education, high culture, government, the media and official/formal communications. It's also the native language of a small minority of Jamaicans (typically upper class and upper/traditional middle class). Most Creole-dominant speakers have a fair command of Standard English, through schooling and exposure to official culture and mass media; their receptive skills (understanding of Standard English) are typically much better than their productive skills (their own intended Standard English statements often show signs of Creole interference). Jamaican Creole, also known locally as Patois/(Patwa) or simply Jamaican, is an English/African-based language --not to be confused with Jamaican English nor with the Rastafarian use of English-- used primarily on the island of Jamaica. ... In linguistics, diglossia is a situation where, in a given society, there are two (often) closely-related languages, one of high prestige, which is generally used by the government and in formal texts, and one of low prestige, which is usually the spoken vernacular tongue. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


Most writing in Jamaica is done in Standard English (including private notes and correspondence). Jamaican Creole has a standardized spelling and has only recently been taught in some schools. As a result, the majority of Jamaicans can read and write Standard English only, and have trouble deciphering written dialect (in which the writer tries to reflect characteristic structures and pronunciations to differing degrees, without compromising readability). Written Creole appears mostly in literature, especially in folkloristic "dialect poems"; in humoristic newspaper columns; and most recently, on internet chat sites frequented by younger Jamaicans, who seem to have a more positive attitude toward their own language use than their parents.[4] Old book bindings at the Merton College library. ...


While, for the sake of simplicity, it is customary to describe Jamaican speech in terms of Standard versus Creole, a clear-cut dichotomy does not adequately describe the actual language use of most Jamaicans. Between the two extremes -"broad Patois" on one end of the spectrum, and "perfect" Standard on the other - there are various in-between varieties. This situation typically results when a Creole language is in constant contact with its standard (superstrate or lexifier language) and is called a creole speech continuum. The least prestigious (most Creole) variety is called the basilect; the Standard (or high prestige) variety the acrolect; and in-between versions are known as mesolects. A dichotomy is a division into two non-overlapping or mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive parts. ... A phase that happens to native languages in a peripheral, especially colonial society that emerge from the previous dominance of a high language imposed by the center. ... In linguistics, a basilect is a dialect of speech that has diverged so far from the standard language that in essence it has become a different language. ... An acrolect is a register of a spoken language that is considered formal and high-style. ... A mesolect is a register of spoken language whose character falls somewhere between the prestige of the acrolect and the informality of the basilect. ...


Consider, for example, the following forms:

  • "Me a wok ova de-so" (basilect)
  • "Im workin' ova de-so" (low mesolect)
  • "Me is workin' over dere" or "(H)e (h)is workin' over dere", "(high mesolect)
    He is working over there." (acrolect)

(As noted above, the "r" in "over" is not pronounced in any variety, but the one in "dere" or "there" is.)


Jamaicans choose from the varieties available to them according to the situation. A Creole-dominant speaker will choose a higher variety for formal occasions like official business or a wedding speech, and a lower one for relating to friends; a Standard-dominant speaker is likely to employ a lower variety when shopping at the market than at her workplace. Code-switching can also be metaphoric (e.g., a Standard-dominant speaker switching to a lower variety for humoristic purposes, or to express solidarity). Code-switching is a term in linguistics referring to alternation between one or more languages, dialects, or language registers in the course of discourse between people who have more than one language in common. ...


References

  1. ^ Andrea Sand (1999), Linguistic Variation in Jamaica. A Corpus-Based Study of Radio and Newspaper Usage, Tübingen: Narr.
  2. ^ Peter L. Patrick (1999), Urban Jamaican Creole. Variation in the Mesolect. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.
  3. ^ Velma Pollard (2000), Dread Talk. Montreal: McGill-Queen's UP.
  4. ^ Lars Hinrichs (2006), Codeswitching on the Web: English and Jamaican Creole in E-Mail Communication. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Jamaican English - Definition, explanation (1206 words)
Jamaican English or Jamaican Standard English is a dialect of English encompassing in a very unique way, parts and mergers of both American English and British English dialects.
Jamaican is generally considered to be a Creole language /Creole.
Jamaican Standard and Jamaican Creole exist side by side in the island in a typical diglossic pattern (see diglossia).
Definition of Jamaican English (1074 words)
Jamaican English or Jamaican Standard English is a dialect of English encompassing in a very unique way, parts and mergers of both American English and British English dialects.
Jamaican is generally considered to be a Creole language /Creole.
Jamaican Standard and Jamaican Creole exist side by side in the island in a typical diglossic pattern (see diglossia).
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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