Jamaican Patois

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Jamaican Creole
Patois
Native to Jamaica, Panama, Costa Rica, United States, United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, Canada
Native speakers 3.2 million  (2001)[1]
Language family
English creole
  • Atlantic
    • Western
      • Jamaican Creole
Dialects
Language codes
ISO 639-3 jam
Linguasphere 52-ABB-am

Jamaican Patois, known as Patwa, Jamaican Creole or simply Jamaican, is an English-African Creole language spoken mostly in Jamaica and among the Jamaican diaspora.[2]

Formation of the language[change | change source]

Jamaican Patois was developed in the 17 century with the arrival of West African slaves. Once they arrived in the island, they had to quickly learn and neutralize the dialectal forms of the English language. The slaves, just like in any region of the Caribbean rather speak their original tongue than learn the proper forms of the European languages of their masters.[3]

Irish influence[change | change source]

Jamaican Creole draws an Irish phonetic sounds in some areas of Jamaica, however, the schools and education in Jamaica are based on the British English in the writing, reading and speech.

African influence[change | change source]

Jamaican Patois has African influences dating back to the 17th century. Its syntax, sounds, phonetics, grammar, and plenty of words show African influence in every aspect.[3]

Chinese and East Indian influence[change | change source]

The Jamaican language has hundreds or thousands of words with origins of the Cantonese and the Indian languages. Words such as "Ganja" (Mariguana) and "Chao" (Good-bye expression) and plenty more.

References[change | change source]

  1. Jamaican Creole at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  2. Lars Hinrichs (2006), Codeswitching on the Web: English and Jamaican Creole in E-Mail Communication. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.
  3. 3.0 3.1 DeCamp (1977:29)