Jamaican Creole: Wikis

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Patois
(Jamaican Creole)
Spoken in  Jamaica 2,665,636[1]
 Costa Rica 55,100[1]
 Panama 268,435[1]
Total speakers 3.1 million[1]
Language family Creole language
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 none
ISO 639-3 jam

Jamaican Patois, known locally as Patois (Patwa) or Jamaican, and called Jamaican Creole by linguists, is an EnglishAfrican creole language spoken primarily in Jamaica and the Jamaican diaspora. It is not to be confused with Jamaican English nor with the Rastafarian use of English. The language developed in the 17th century, when slaves from West and Central Africa were exposed to, learned and nativized the vernacular and dialectal forms of English spoken by their masters: British English and Hiberno English. Jamaican Patois features a creole continuum (a linguistic continuum)[2][3][4]—meaning that the variety of the language closest to the lexifier language (the acrolect) cannot be distinguished systematically from intermediate varieties (collectively referred to as the mesolect) nor even from the most divergent rural varieties (collectively referred to as the basilect). Jamaicans themselves usually refer to their dialect as patois, a French term without a precise linguistic definition.

Significant Jamaican-speaking communities exist among Jamaican expatriates in Miami, New York City, Toronto, Hartford, Washington, D.C., Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama (in the Caribbean coast), and London.[5] A mutually intelligible variety is found in San Andrés y Providencia Islands, Colombia, brought to the island by descendants of Jamaican Maroons (escaped slaves) in the 18th century. Mesolectal forms are similar to very Basilectal Belizean Kriol.

Jamaican Patois exists mostly as a spoken language. Although standard British English is used for most writing in Jamaica, Jamaican has been gaining ground as a literary language for almost a hundred years. Claude McKay published his book of Jamaican poems Songs of Jamaica in 1912. Patois and English are frequently used for stylistic contrast (codeswitching) in new forms of internet writing.[6]

Jamaican pronunciation and vocabulary are significantly different from English, despite heavy use of English words or derivatives. A native speaker of a non-Caribbean English dialect can understand a heavily accented Jamaican speaker only if he/she speaks slowly and forgoes the use of the many idioms that are common in Jamaican. Jamaican Patois displays similarities to the pidgin and creole languages of West Africa, due to their common descent from the blending of African substrate languages with European languages.[citation needed]

Contents

Phonology

Accounts of basilectal Jamaican Patois postulate around 21 phonemic consonants[7] and between 9 and 16 vowels.[8]

Consonants[9]
Labial Alveolar Post-
alveolar
Palatal2 Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p   b t   d tʃ   dʒ c   ɟ k   ɡ
Fricative f   v s   z   ʃ (h)1
Approximant ɹ j w
Lateral l
  1. The status of /h/ as a phoneme is dialectal: in Western varieties, it is a full phoneme and there are minimal pairs (/hiit/ 'hit' and /iit/ 'eat'); in Eastern varieties, the presence of [h] in a word is in free variation with no consonant so that the words for 'hand' and 'and' (both underlyingly /an/) may be pronounced [han] or [an].[10]
  2. The palatal stops [c], [ɟ][11] and [ɲ] are considered phonemic by some accounts[12] and phonetic by others.[13] For the latter interpretation, their appearance is included in the larger phenomenon of phonetic palatalization.

Examples of palatalization include:[14]

  • /kiuu/[ciuː][cuː] ('a quarter quart (of rum)')
  • /ɡiaad/[ɟiaːd][ɟaːd] ('guard')
  • /piaa + piaa/[pʲiãːpʲiãː][pʲãːpʲãː] ('weak')

Voiced stops are implosive whenever in the onset of prominent syllables (especially word-initially) so that /biit/ ('beat') is pronounced [ɓiːt] and /ɡuud/ ('good') as [ɠuːd].[7]

Before a syllabic /l/, the contrast between alveolar and velar consonants has been historically neutralized with alveolar consonants becoming velar so that the word for 'bottle' is /bakl̩/ and the word for 'idle' is /aiɡl̩/.[15]

Vowels of Jamaican Patois. from Harry (2006:128)

Jamaican Patois exhibits two types of vowel harmony; peripheral vowel harmony, wherein only sequences of peripheral vowels (that is, /i/, /u/, and /a/) can occur within a syllable; and back harmony, wherein /i/ and /u/ cannot occur within a syllable together (that is, /uu/ and /ii/ are allowed but */ui/ and */iu/ are not).[16] These two phenomena account for three long vowels and four diphthongs:[17]

Vowel Example Gloss
/ii/ /biini/ 'tiny'
/aa/ /baaba/ 'barber'
/uu/ /buut/ 'booth'
/ia/ /biak/ 'bake'
/ai/ /baik/ 'bike'
/ua/ /buat/ 'boat'
/au/ /taun/ 'town'

Sociolinguistic variation

Jamaican Patois is a creole language that exhibits a gradation between more conservative creole forms and forms virtually identical to Standard English[18] (i.e. metropolitan Standard English). This situation came about with contact between speakers of a number of Niger-Congo languages and various dialects of English, the latter of which were all perceived as prestigious and the use of which carried socio-economic rewards.[19] The span of a speaker's command of the continuum generally corresponds to the variety of social situations that they situate themselves in.[20]

Grammar

The tense/aspect system of Jamaican Patois is fundamentally unlike that of English. There are no morphological marked past tense forms corresponding to English -ed -t. There are two preverbial particles: en and a. These are not verbs, they are simply invariant particles that cannot stand alone like the English to be. Their function also differs from the English.

According to Bailey (1966), the progressive category is marked by /a~da~de/. Alleyne (1980) claims that /a~da/ marks the progressive and that the habitual aspect is unmarked but by its accompaniment with verbs like 'always', 'usually’, etc (i.e. is absent as a grammatical category). Mufwene (1984) and Gibson and Levy (1984) propose a past-only habitual category marked by /juusta/ as in /weɹ wi juusta liv iz not az kuol az iiɹ/ ('where we used to live is not as cold as here') [21]

For the present tense, an uninflected verb combining with an iterative adverb marks habitual meaning as in /tam aawez nuo kieti tel pan im/ ('Tom always knows when Katy tells/has told about him').[22]

  • en is a tense indicator
  • a is an aspect marker
  • (a) go is used to indicate the future
  • /mi ɹon/
    • I run (habitually); I ran
  • /mi a ɹon/ or /mi de ɹon/
    • I am running
  • /a ɹon mi dida ɹon/ or /a ɹon mi ben(w)en a ɹon/
    • I was running
  • /mi did ɹon/ or /mi ben(w)en ɹon/
    • I have run; I had run
  • /mi a go ɹon/
    • I am going to run; I will run

Like other Caribbean Creoles (that is, Guyanese Creole and San Andrés-Providencia Creole; Sranan Tongo is excluded) /fi/ has a number of functions, including:[23]

  • Directional, dative, or benefactlve preposition
    • /dem a fait fi wi/ ('They are fighting for us')[24]
  • Genitive preposition (that is, marker of possession)
    • /dat a fi mi buk/ ('that's my book')
  • Modal auxiliary expressing obligation or futurity
    • /im fi kom op ja/ ('he ought to come up here')
  • Pre-infinitive complementizer
    • /unu hafi kiip samtiŋ faɹ de ɡini piipl-dem fi biit dem miuzik/ ('you have to contribute something to the Guinean People for playing their music')[25]
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Pronominal system

The pronominal system of Standard English has a four-way distinction of person, number, gender and case. Some varieties of Jamaican Patois do not have the gender or case distinction, though most do; but usefully, it does distinguish between the second person singular and plural (you).

  • I, me = /mi/
  • you, you (singular) = /ju/
  • he, him = /im/ (pronounced [ĩ] in the basilect varieties)
  • she, her = /ʃi/ or /im/ (no gender distinction in basilect varieties)
  • we, us = /wi/
  • you (plural) = /unu/
  • they, them = /dem/

Copula

  • the Jamaican Patois equative verb is also a
    • e.g. /mi a di tiitʃa/ ('I am the teacher')
  • Jamaican Patois has a separate locative verb deh
    • e.g. /wi de a london/ or /wi de ina london/ ('we are in London')
  • with true adjectives in Jamaican Patois, no copula is needed
    • e.g. /mi haadbak nau/ ('I am old now')

Negation

  • /no/ is used as a present tense negator:
    • /if kau no did nuo au im tɹuotuol tan im udn tʃaans pieɹsiid/ ('If the cow knew that his throat wasn't capable of swallowing a pear seed, he wouldn't have swallowed it')[26]
  • /kiaan/ is used in the same way as English can't
    • /it a puoɹ tiŋ dat kiaan maʃ ant/ ('It is a poor thing that can't mash an ant')[27]
  • /neva/ is a negative past participle.[28]
    • /dʒan neva tiif di moni/ ('John did not steal the money')

Orthography

Because Jamaican Patois is a non-standard language, there is no standard or official way of writing it. For example, the word "there" can be written de, deh, or dere, and the word "three" is most commonly spelled tree, but it can be spelled tri or trii to distinguish it from the noun tree. Often, Standard English spellings are used even when words are pronounced differently. Other times, a spelling has become widespread even though it is neither phonetic nor standard (eg. pickney = child. =In this case the spelling pikni would be more phonetic). However, due to increased use on the Internet (such as in E-mail) in recent years, a user-driven process of partial standardization has been taking place.

Vocabulary

Jamaican Patois contains many loanwords. Primarily these come from English, but are also borrowed from Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Arawak and African languages. Examples from African languages include /dopi/ meaning ghost, from the Twi word adope; obeah, also from Twi, meaning a type of African spell-casting or witchcraft (and also used as a popular scapegoat for common woes); /se/ meaning that (in the sense of "he told me that...." = /im tel mi se/), also taken from Ashanti Twi; the pronoun /unu/, used for the plural form of you, is taken from the Igbo language. Red eboe describes a fair skinned black person because of the reported account of fair skin among the Igbo.[29] Soso meaning only comes from both the Igbo and Yoruba language.[30] Words from Hindi include nuh, ganja (marijuana), and janga (crawdad). Pickney or pickiney meaning child, taken from an earlier form (piccaninny) was ultimately borrowed from the Portuguese pequenino (the diminutive of pequeno, small) or Spanish pequeño ('small').

There are many words referring to popular produce and food items—ackee, callaloo, guinep, bammy, roti, dal, kamranga. See Jamaican cuisine.

Jamaican Patois has its own rich variety of swearwords. One of the strongest is blood claat (along with related forms raas claat, bomba claat, pussy claat and others—compare with bloody in Australian English, which is not considered swearing). Homosexual men are referred to as /biips/[31] or batty boys[citation needed].

Example phrases

  • Three men swam.
    • /tɹi man did a suim/
  • I nearly hit him
    • /a didn mek dʒuok fi lik im/[32]
  • He can't beat me, he simply got lucky and won.
    • /im kiaan biit mi, a dʒos bokop im bokop an win/[33]
  • Those children are disobedient
    • /dem pikni de aad iez/
  • What are you doing?
    • /we ju a du/
  • /siin/ - Affirmative particle[34]
  • /papiˈʃuo/ - Foolish exhibition, a person who makes a foolish exhibition of themself, or an exclamation of surprise.[35]
  • /dem/ them (also indicates plural when placed after a noun)
  • /se/ that (conjunction for relative clauses)
  • /disia/ this (used before nouns)
  • /ooman/ woman
  • /buai/ boy
  • /ɡial/ girl

Literature and film

A rich body of literature has developed in Jamaican Patois. Notable among early authors are Thomas MacDermot's All Jamaica Library and Claude McKay's Songs of Jamaica (1909), and, more recently, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Mikey Smith. Subsequently, the life-work of Louise Bennett or Miss Lou (1919–2006), is particularly notable in her use of the rich colourful patois, despite being shunned by traditional literary groups. "The Jamaican Poetry League excluded her from its meetings, and editors failed to include her in anthologies."[36] She argued forcefully for the recognition of Jamaican as a full language, with the same pedigree as the dialect from which Standard English had sprung:

Dah language weh yuh proud a,

Weh yuh honour an respec –

Po Mas Charlie, yuh no know se

Dat it spring from dialec!

Bans a Killin

After the 1960s, the status of Jamaican rose as a number of respected linguistic studies were published, by Cassidy (1961,1967), Bailey (1966) and others [37]. Subsequently, it has gradually become mainstream to codemix or write complete pieces in Jamaican Patois; proponents include Kamau Brathwaite, who also analyzes the position of Creole poetry in his History of the Voice: The Development of Nation Language in Anglophone Caribbean Poetry (1984). However, Standard English remains the more prestigious literary medium in Jamaican literature. Canadian-Caribbean science-fiction novelist Nalo Hopkinson often writes in Jamaican or other Caribbean patois.

Jamaican Patois is also presented in some films, for example, Tia Dalma's speech from Dead Man's Chest.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Gordon (2005)
  2. ^ Rickford (1987:?)
  3. ^ Meade (2001:19)
  4. ^ Patrick (1999:6)
  5. ^ Mark Sebba (1993), London Jamaican, London: Longman.
  6. ^ Lars Hinrichs (2006), Codeswitching on the Web: English and Jamaican Creole in E-Mail Communication. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.
  7. ^ a b Devonish & Harry (2004:456)
  8. ^ Harry (2006:127)
  9. ^ Harry (2006:126-127)
  10. ^ Harry (2006:126)
  11. ^ also transcribed as [kʲ] and [ɡʲ]
  12. ^ such as Cassidy & Le Page (1980:xxxix)
  13. ^ such as Harry (2006)
  14. ^ Devonish & Harry (2004:458)
  15. ^ Cassidy (1971:40)
  16. ^ Harry (2006:128-129)
  17. ^ Harry (2006:128)
  18. ^ DeCamp (1961:82)
  19. ^ Irvine (2004:42)
  20. ^ DeCamp (1977:29)
  21. ^ Gibson (1988:199)
  22. ^ Mufwene (1984:218) cited in Gibson (1988:200)
  23. ^ Winford (1985:589)
  24. ^ Bailey (1966:32)
  25. ^ Patrick (1995:244)
  26. ^ Lawton (1984:126) translates this as "If the cow didn't know that his throat was capable of swallowing a pear seed, he wouldn't have swallowed it."
  27. ^ Lawton (1984:125)
  28. ^ Irvine (2004:43-44)
  29. ^ Cassidy, Frederic Gomes; Robert Brock Le Page (2002). A Dictionary of Jamaican English (2nd ed.). University of the West Indies Press. p. 168. ISBN 9-766-40127-6. http://books.google.com/books?id=_lmFzFgsTZYC&pg=PA168. Retrieved 2008-11-24. 
  30. ^ McWhorter, John H. (2000). The Missing Spanish Creoles: Recovering the Birth of Plantation Contact Languages. University of California Press. p. 77. ISBN 0-520-21999-6. http://books.google.com/books?id=czFufZI4Zx4C&pg=PA77. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  31. ^ Patrick (1995:234)
  32. ^ Patrick (1995:248)
  33. ^ Hancock (1985:237)
  34. ^ Patrick (1995:253)
  35. ^ Hancock (1985:190)
  36. ^ Ramazani (2003:15)
  37. ^ The Routledge reader in Caribbean literature, Routledge 2003, ed. Alison Donnell, Sarah Lawson Welsh, Introduction, p. 9

Bibliography

  • Alleyne, Mervyn C. (1980). Comparative Afro-American: An Historical Comparative Study of English-based Afro-American Dialects of the New World.. Koroma. 
  • Bailey, Beryl, L (1966). Jamaican Creole Syntax. Cambridge UP. 
  • Cassidy, Frederic (1971). Jamaica Talk: Three Hundred Years of English Language in Jamaica. London: MacMillan Caribbean. 
  • Cassidy, Frederic; Le Page, R. B. (1980). Dictionary of Jamaican English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  • DeCamp, David (1961), "Social and geographic factors in Jamaican dialects", in Le Page, R. B., Creole Language Studies, London: Macmillan, pp. 61–84 
  • DeCamp, David (1977), "The Development of Pidgin and Creole Studies", in Valdman, A, Pidgin and Creole Linguistics, Bloomington: Indiana University Press 
  • Devonish, H; Harry, Otelamate G. (2004), "Jamaican phonology", in Kortman, B; Shneider E. W., A Handbook of Varieties of English, phonology, 1, Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter, pp. 441–471 
  • Gibson, Kean (1988), "The Habitual Category in Guyanese and Jamaican Creoles", American Speech 63 (3): 195–202, doi:10.2307/454817 
  • Gordon, Raymond G. Jr. (2005). "Languages of Jamaica". Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. http://www.ethnologue.org/show_country.asp?name=JM. 
  • Hancock, Ian (1985), "More on Poppy Show", American Speech 60 (2): 189–192, doi:10.2307/455318 
  • Harry, Otelemate G. (2006), "Jamaican Creole", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 36 (1): 125–131, doi:10.1017/S002510030600243X 
  • Ramazani, Jahan; Ellmann, and Robert O'Clair, eds., Richard (2003.). The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Third Edition. 2: Contemporary Poetry. Norton. ISBN 0-393-97792-7,. 
  • Irvine, Alison (2004), "A Good Command of the English Language: Phonological Variation in the Jamaican Acrolect", Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 19 (1): 41–76, doi:10.1075/jpcl.19.1.03irv 
  • Lawton, David (1984), "Grammar of the English-Based Jamaican Proverb", American Speech 2: 123–130, doi:10.2307/455246 
  • Meade, R.R. (2001). Acquisition of Jamaican Phonology. Dordrecht: Holland Institute of Linguistics. 
  • Patrick, Peter L. (1995), "Recent Jamaican Words in Sociolinguistic Context", American Speech 70 (3): 227–264, doi:10.2307/455899 
  • Patrick, Peter L. (1999). Urban Jamaican Creole: Variation in the Mesolect. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. 
  • Rickford, John R. (1987). Dimensions of a Creole Continuum: History, Texts, Linguistic Analysis of Guyanese. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 
  • Winford, Donald (1985), "The Syntax of Fi Complements in Caribbean English Creole", Language 61 (3): 588–624, doi:10.2307/414387 

Further reading

  • Adams, L. Emilie (1991). Understanding Jamaican Patois. Kingston: LMH. ISBN 976-610-155-8. 

External links


Wikibooks

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

Jamaican Patois, known locally as Patois/Patwa or simply Jamaican, and called Jamaican Creole by linguists, 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. Jamaican is the descendant of a 17th century creolization process which, simply put, consisted of West and Central Africans acquiring and nativizing the vernacular and dialectal British Englishes (including significant exposure to Irish and Scottish varieties), with which their forced labour brought them in contact. Of course it must be understood that all languages are derived from usually more than one already existing language. In the sense that Italian, Catalan, French, Spanish, and Portuguese are all derived from Latin, no one would call any of these languages Latin creole or Patois. Modern day Jamaican creole is what is called a linguistic continuum in linguistics terms. That is, there is no cut-and-dry division between the standard language (the acrolect) and the most divergent, rural form (the basilect). The intermediate form is called the mesolect.

Significant Jamaican-speaking communities exist among Jamaican expatriates in Miami, New York City, Toronto, Washington D.C., Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama (in the Caribbean coast), and London. There is also a very similar, mutually intelligible variety found in San Andres Islands, Colombia, brought to the island by decendants of Jamaican maroons in the 18th century. Jamaican creole exists mostly as a spoken language. Although standard British English is used for most writing in Jamaica, Jamaican has been gaining ground as a literary language for almost a hundred years. Claude McKay published his book of Jamaican poems Songs of Jamaica in 1912.

Jamaican pronunciation and vocabulary are significantly different from most other English dialects, despite heavy usage of English words or derivatives. It is to the point where a native speaker of a non-Caribbean English dialect can only understand a heavily accented Jamaican speaker if they talk slowly and forego the use of the numerous idioms that are common in Jamaican.

This is due to the fact that many Jamaican words have their origin in various African languages and the language syntax is mostly derived from the various African languages. Pluralisation of nouns is done by either prepending a cardinal—de five bud = the five birds—or by appending the plural indicator, "dem"—de bud dem = the birds. Similarly, verb tense is specified using prepended tense indicators—mi swim, mi a go swim, mi beh~ swim, mi a fi swim, etc.

Interest in Jamaican culture outside of Jamaica was heightened by the proliferation of the Rastafari movement and reggae and ska music throughout the world beginning in the 1960s.

Contents

The pronominal system

The pronominal system of Standard English has a four-way distinction of person, singular/plural, gender and nominative/objective. Some varieties of Jamaican Creole do not have the gender or nominative/objective distinction, though most do; but usefully, it does distinguish between the second person singular and plural (you).

  • I, me = mi
  • you, you (thou, thee) = yu
  • he, him = im or ihn (nasilized in the basilect variety)
  • she, her = shi or ihn (nasilized, with no gender distinction in the basilect variety)
  • we, us = wi
  • you, you = unu
  • they, them = dem


To form the possessive adjectives and the possessive pronouns, simply add "fi-" to the pronouns above. Note, though, that most varieties of Jamaican Creole use merely the nominative/objective pronouns in place of these possessive variants, which are used for emphasis.

  • my, mine = fi-mi
  • your, yours (thy, thine) = fi-yu
  • his, his = fi-im
  • her, hers = fi-shi (also fi-'ar, and fi-im in basilect variety)
  • our, ours = fi-wi
  • your, yours = fi-unu
  • their, theirs = fi-dem

Often, fi- is used in front of nouns, to indicate possession (replacing 's).

e.g. a fi-Anne daag dat, that is Anne's dog.

Vocabulary

Naturally, Jamaican Creole contains many words borrowed from English as well as from Spanish, Portuguese, Hindustani, and African languages. Examples of such words include "duppy" meaning 'ghost' from Twi adope, id; "pickney/pickiney" meaning 'child' (may have been taken from an earlier form "piccaninny" and ultimately borrowed from Portuguese "pequenino" or most likely from the Spanish "pequeño"); "obeah" (also from Twi) referring to a type of spell-casting, voodoo or witchcraft native to Africa (and also used as a popular scapegoat for common woes); and even "seh" meaning 'that' (in the sense of "he told me that" = "im tel mi seh") and taken from a west African dialect. Words from Hindustani include "nuh", "ganja" (marijuana), and "janga" (crayfish).

Tense and aspect marking

The tense/aspect system of Jamaican Creole is fundamentally unlike that of English. There are no morphological marked past tense forms corresponding to English -ed -t. There are 2 preverbial particles: 'en' and 'a'. These are not verbs, they are simply invariant particles which cannot stand alone like the English ‘to be’. Their functions differs also from the English

       *'en' is called a ‘tense indicator’
       *'a' is called the ‘aspect marker’
       *'go' is used to indicate the future

There are no morphological marked past tense forms corresponding to English -ed -t.

  • Mi run
    • I run (habitually); I ran
  • Mi a run or Mi deh run
    • I am running
  • A run mi dida run or A run mi ben/(w)en a run
    • I was running
  • Mi did run
    • I have run; *Mi a go run
    • I am going to run; I will run

Use of the copula (equivalent to "to be")

  • the Jamaican Creole particle 'a' is required
    • e.g. Mi a write (I am writing)
  • the Jamaican Creole equative verb is also 'a'
    • e.g. Mi a di teecha (I am the teacher)
  • Jamaican 'deh'
    • e.g. Wi deh a London (We are in London)
  • with true adjectives in Jamaican Creole, no copula is needed; adjectives are a special class of verbs
    • e.g. Mi tyad now (I am tired now)

Negation

  • negator ‘no’ used in present
    • Wi no deh a London (We are not in London)
    • Mi naah (no +a) run (I’m not running)
  • 'neba’ or ‘neva’ used only in past
    • Mi neba knuow dat (I didn’t know that)
    • Nobaddy neva si him (Nobody saw him)
  • insertion of a 'y' in a word
    • Mi kya~ do dat (I can do that)
    • Mi kyaa~ do dat (I cannot do that)

Phonology

Characteristic features include the absence of /ɒ/ (as in British English "got"), which fell together with /ɑː/, as in most US Englishes. Jamaican Creole developed two palatal plosives, namely /kʲ/ and /ɡʲ/, they derive from English palatal allophones of /k/ and /ɡ/. Due to African influences, /kʲ/ and /ɡʲ/ are now phonemes in Jamaican Creole. Furthermore, Jamaican Creole has no /θ/ (as in Standard English "thing") phoneme; /θ/ fell together with /t/. Other features of many Jamaican dialects include:

  • /v/ being pronounced as /b/,
  • Word-initial /h/ being dropped (Have becomes 'ave) in many dialects, but may also be added to words beginning with vowel sounds: "eye" becomes "hi."
  • Intervocalic /t/ becoming /k/, little = likkle, bottle = bahkkle
  • Occasional metathesis; film = flim
  • Deletion of word-initial /s/: 'pit=spit, 'pen'=spend, 'tumok/'tomok=stomach

Orthography

Because of its status as non-standard, there is no standard or official way of writing Jamaican Creole; (for example the word 'there' can be written 'de', 'deh' or dere'; and the word for 'three' is most commonly spelt 'tree', but it can be spelt 'tri' or 'trii' to distinguish it from the noun tree). Often, Standard English spellings are used even when words are pronounced differently. At other times though, a spelling has become widespread even though it is neither phonetic nor standard (eg. 'pickney' = 'child'; in this case the spelling 'pikni' would be more phonetic).

Examples

  • That man was swimming
    • Da man de did a swim.
  • Three men swam.
    • Tree man did a swim.
  • I do not like what you are saying about your girlfriend.
    • Mi nuh like wah yu a seh bout yu gyal.
  • I did not say anything about you.
    • Mi neva seh nuttn bout yu.
  • Nyam- v. to eat ex: "Mi a go nyam" (I'm going to eat)
  • Pickney- n. a child or children ex: "Ey pickney, wha you name?" / "Dem pickney deh 'aad-ears"
  • Seh- that (as in: "'im tell mi seh you shi boops" (He told me that you're her sugar-daddy)

(Note that double negatives in Jamaican Creole are used as intensifiers)

External links


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