Monday, June 28, 2004

Dispelling A Notion: Jamaicans and Language

Hmmm as your regular Jamaican on the UWI campus, I am constantly assaulted by colleagues who must either mock, question, jeer or insult Jamaicans for our use of English or lack of it. One of the most popular attacks is on the adding and subtracting of "h". Mind you no one attacks Trinidadians for minusing "r" (eg. Gyul and not girl) or other islanders for mixing up "r" and "w". And when the French add or drop "h" it is ooh too sexy eh. My usual response is not that cynical but to advise them that one we speak a seperate language "patois" fully functional and developed as opposed to trying to speak English and not succeeding. It also gets on my nerves when Jamaicans say we speak bad when people speak patois... this only speaks to ourself hatred and the fact that we loathe anything we create. What it is, is that we are a bilingual society eh. Not a nation of illiterates. So cut us some slack eh. Next time you see that "yute" talking Patois, don't tell him "im chat bad" but if you must say anything ask him to speak standard English, or he'll make the wrong associations. Finally to dispell this myth about Jamaicans and English and just language in general it ought to be interesting to note that Jamaica won the "CARIBBEAN PUBLIC SPEAKING CONTEST" who would have thought it. We the language barren pariahs, win a speaking contest... it comes oh so much as a shock. It was won by one Hixwell Douglas who was not the first Jamaican to win but his victory makes it the second consecutive year that Jamaica has won. Hmm so much for that story about bad speaking Jamaicans.

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