Sunday, April 18, 2010

THE LANGUAGE SITUATION IN JAMAICA

There is a close relationship among all Caribbean countries as reflected in their cultural practices, geographical locations and languages. Among all these countries, there is the common African ancestry and historical experience of the Middle Passage and slavery that our ancestors endured. After the British slave trade ended in 1807, the practice of selling slaves Intra-Caribbean became popular. This meant that cultural transference and acculturation occurred. The interaction that took place among persons in these territories is one factor that has accounted for similarities in the language shared by so many Caribbean countries.
Another historical factor affecting the development and preservation of Creole languages in the Caribbean is the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804). During these years of intense warfare, a number of refugees made their way to various Caribbean territories including British colonial islands such as Jamaica.
Languages in Caribbean countries were influenced by the unique and different surroundings of each island. Many words and phrases share similar roots but have different adaptations.

THE LANGUAGE CONTINUUM IN JAMAICA
This is a term that depicts or shows the range of language and language dialect spoken in Jamaica. Jamaicans tend to switch from one language to another in conversation and in different situations. Creole is continuously changing and becoming more like English. This is called decreolistion. The language continuum refers to a range from the acrolet to the mesolect to the baselect.

Acrolect
The acrolect is the Jamaican Standard English (J.S.E) and it’s at the last point of the continuum. It is most often spoken in formal situations. It’s a language used by the intellectual group.

Mesolect
This is a form of Creole with more English derived features than the basilect and is said to be the point on the continuum next to the basilect. It is most often spoken by urban and educated persons.

Baselect
This is a form of Creole with more African derived features than other forms and is said to be the first point on the continuum. It is most often spoken in rural areas and by uneducated persons.

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