>Subject: [cerninfo] Caribbean Dialect Taking Giant Step Forward
>Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2005 12:52:30 -0500
>From: Bevan Springer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> From Bevan Springer
>Caribbean Dialect Taking Giant Step Forward
>NEW YORK (March 16, 2005) To speak or not to speak nation language or
>Caribbean dialect? That is the question.
>Growing up in the Caribbean, my teachers and parents alike made it
>abundantly clear that the language of the classroom or our home was
>While we spoke dialect (Barbados), creole (St. Lucia) or patois (Jamaica)
>regularly amongst peers, many Caribbean parents discouraged this
>practice at home - and understandably so - for fear that we wouldn't fully
>nuances of the English language, which we needed to pass examinations and
>graduate to some of the more prestigious educational institutions in our
>Today, however, pursuing studies in Caribbean linguistics and dialect is
>both "cool and chic" and moreover practical with some governments, like St.
>Lucia, making French Creole (once frowned upon in households), one of the
>working languages during - of all places - sittings of Parliament in that
>While I have been gently admonished to this day for lapsing into the
>Caribbean vernacular while hosting WLIB's "The Caribbean in Five", given
>the global scope of the radio program, I note with curiosity the rush underway
>"across the pond" in the Mother Country of England for introducing a
>Jamaican patois course into the educational system there.
>According to a story from the BBC, a Jamaican Language and Culture course
>has sparked interest among students at City College in Birmingham.
>The story quotes course facilitator Heather Reid as saying the program is
>attracting people who are already fluent in Jamaican patois so they could
>take pride in their indigenous language.
>"There is a large section of the Jamaican population who are taught as
>children that they shouldn't speak patois, that patois is bad English,
>or an improper, unacceptable way of speaking," she said.
>The other reason for the course is to teach non-Jamaicans how to understand
>and communicate with their British-based islanders whose accents are too
>strong or whose English is considered to be non-standard. The message is
>the same as the different regions of Britain are making, i.e. dialects are
>different, but not necessarily sub-standard. We may not have wanted Bob
>Marley as an Air Traffic Controller with his patois - but his music would
>not have the same worldwide effect in the Queen's English!
>So this move is a step in the right direction, by placing value on a
>language that is part and parcel of our Caribbean culture and heritage.
>Indeed, several academics across the Caribbean have embraced our native
>languages and have begun to chronicle several works for study and analysis.
>However, institutionalizing dialect does have downside risks. While we
>embrace our culture, we ought to strengthen our command of Standard
>English, which is now the universal language for doing business whether flying
>commercial airplanes or hosting radio shows for mainstream audiences in New
>York City! It is after all one of the biggest assets we in CARICOM (The
>Caribbean Community) have!
>Finding the right balance which allows us to effectively recognize that we
>are dealing with a bilingual situation can limit inter-lingual interference.
>And there's more ... with efforts underway in Trinidad and Tobago to
>introduce Spanish to every man, woman and child in the years ahead, we may
>soon become a trilingual people. We'll be on course to catch up with our
>Dutch Antillean neighbours who switch between Dutch, Spanish, English and
>Papiamento with relative ease.
>Hats off to the visionaries who place value on exploring varied forms of
>communicating in standard and non-standard varieties of language.
Nearby mié 30 mar 2005 09:42:04 AST
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