Patois Chantal Dufreny Jessica Turral
Also Known As • Patwa • Afro. Jamaican • Jamaican Creole “ungrammatical English” ?
Creole • Creoles are languages that form as a result of some human upheaval which makes it impossible for people to use their own languages to communicate • Arise due to the interaction between a native language and a forced language • Result: a new language comes about that has some characteristics of the original languages and also has some characteristics of its own
Recall: the Anglo-Saxon invasion • Upheaval Changes language • Began in 449 • Ruled from 5th Century until the Norman Conquest in 1066 • Old English comes about • Anglo-Saxon language and culture viewed as more sophisticated • Celtic influences practically eradicated
History • Indigenous people called the Arawaks were residing in Jamaica • The Arawaks were a peaceful group of people who migrated from Venezuela at 2 separate points in history (650 & 900AD) • Columbus “discovered” Jamaica in 1494 • Influx of Spanish-Europeans in 1510 into what is present-day Spanishtown
Slavery in Jamaica • 1655 Jamaica is captured by the British who turned to large-scale importation of Africans to be used on sugar plantations (until emancipation in 1838) • African slaves forced into a situation where English was the only common means of communication • Slavetraders and owners spoke English • Slaves spoke a variety of African languages • Slaves had to assimilate by learning English • More than 90% of the 2.5 million people in Jamaica are descendants of slaves brought from western Africa by the British
Origin of Patois • A lot of the words in Patois are of English origin • Some words also adopted from African languages especially when no equivalent English word could be found • (often for words that refer to people, plants, animals, activities, and religious words) • Note: the name Jamaica is derived from the Arawak word Xaymaca meaning “Island of springs” • No other known traces of the Arawak exist today
Jamaican English &Rastafarian English • There are two other languages often confused with Jamaican Creole • Jamaican English is a regional dialect of English • Rastafarian English is tied heavily to the religion.
Eastern & Western Jamaican Creole • There are two types of Jamaican Creole: Eastern and Western • Phonologically different • One difference: Eastern dialect treats /h/ as a phonetic • Western (Like English): treats /h/ as phonemic • Phoneme: The smallest phonetic unit in a language that is capable of conveying a distinction in meaning, as the m of mat and the b of bat in English
Status of /h/ • Western Jamaican Creole: h is phonemic meaning that the h sound change produces a separate word with a change in meaning • /hiit/=hit and /iit/=eat • /han/= hand and /an/ • Ham and am • Eastern Jamaican Creole: h is phonetic • There are no sound differences between the words with h and those that are h-less but the words have different meanings • For example: pen and pin • /iit/=hit and /iit/=eat
Differences Between English and Jamaican Creole • Jamaican Creole is missing Dental Fricativesθ, ð • English ð (voiced dental fricative), e.g. in function words • they, the, those, them, father • Jamaican Creole: • dey, de, dose, dem, fadda • English θ (voiceless dental fricative) • threes, with • Jamaican Creole: • tri, wid • Also missing ʒ (voiced alveolar fricative) • Unable to pronounce the “er” sound in “pressure” • Becomes “preh-shah”
Back Harmony • In English there are no restrictions on back harmony • In Jamaican Creole, high vowels have to agree on backness. • The high vowels are /i/ and /u/ • The combinations /iu/, /ui/ are impossible • But /ii/ or /uu/ are possible • As in “biini” (tiny) and “ziin” (okay)
Backness matching doesn’t matter with /a/ • a can be paired like /ai/, /ia/, /au/, or /ua/ • “baik” (bike), “buat” (boat), “taun” (town) • In English we do not have this restriction, meaning that there is not need to match on backness • Ex) intuition (the /ui/ is ok
Peripheral Vowel Harmony • Sequences of mid vowels can not follow each other within one symbol • /e/, /o/ • However, peripheral (not mid) vowels may occur in sequences (/i/, /u/, /a/) • As in “buat” (boat), “biak” (bake)
Examples • /tri man did a suim/ • /dem a fait fi wi/ • /im kiann biit mi/ • /buai/
Poem • Dah language weh yuh proud a, • Weh yuh honour an respec- • Po Mas Charlie, yuh no know se • Dat it spring from dialec
The Continuum • The debate surrounding the use of Patois as opposed to Standard English dates back to the times of slavery • During slavery, Standard English was presented as a superior language • The indigenous language was denigrated to inferior status • Many people in Jamaica are somewhere along the continuum between speaking British Standard English and the local Patois, so there is a great deal of linguistic flexibility • The middle and upper class Jamaicans often use Patois in social settings but not in the workplace
Controversy • Negative impact of dialect: Illiteracy? • Many believe that the high rate of illiteracy in Jamaica is due to the presence of the two languages • Children are taught to read and write in Standard English • Yet they speak Patois • There are those who strongly support the formalization of its use in Jamaican society while there are those who strongly opposite it
Effect of Jamaican Patois on Education • Jamaican students who grew up in a Patois-speaking household sometimes report that they felt their success on the verbal section of the SAT was hindered • Different vocabulary – many of the words you are expected to know for the SAT are never used in your house
Presence of Patois outside of Jamaica • Not only through the spread of reggae music which is highly popular around the world • There are also large communities of people from Jamaica living in other countries • Many go to England (which is to be expected since they were under British rule for many years) • In the years following WWII the US and the UK were in need of reconstruction and expansion of their economies. • Following 1944 there was tremendous migration of Jamaican immigrants (esp in London and NY)
Patois in the US • New York has the largest population of Jamaican immigrants (439,400) • One of the largest communities of Jamaican-Americans in NY is in Queens where there is a population of 93,153 • Those who are born in the US but born of Jamaican heritage usually don’t acquire the ability to master Patois • Patois is lost in first generation Americans because it is not taught, or even allowed, in American schools.
Sources • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaican_Creole • http://www.reggaemovement.com/History/patois.htm • http://www.nyu.edu/classes/blake.map2001/jamaica.html • Jamaican Creole • Otelemate G. Harry • Department of Language, Linguistics & Philosophy • University of the West Indies, Mona Campus • Journal of the IPA (2006) 36/1