Jamaican Patois and the Power of Language in Reggae Music

4982 Words20 Pages
Jamaican Patois and the Power of Language in Reggae Music Introduction Creole languages are found all over the world on every continent. When two or more languages come into contact to form a new language a Creole language is born. Some type of human "upheaval" that forces people to find a way to communicate, without using their own languages, stimulates the creation of a Creole language. In the case of Creole languages in the Caribbean, the "upheaval" is the past history of slavery. Most Creole languages are based on one language. In Jamaica the African slaves were thrown into a situation where the only common means of communication was English, or at least broken English, therefor Jamaican Creole has a majority of its roots in English (Sebba 1, 1996). Essential words which people could not find an English name for, such as people, things (like plants and animals) and activities (especially religious ones) were taken from a variety of West African languages. As a result of patois not being an official language, a name for the Jamaican dialect has not been settled to this day. Common names such as Jamaican, Jamaican Creole, Jamaican patwa or patois, Black English, broken English and even baby talk or slang are all used to describe Creole languages. In L. Emilie Adams’ book, Understanding Jamaican Patois, she states that none of these labels are appropriate for the Jamaican dialect. Creole refers to a mixed African/European language as well as Europeans born in the West Indies; therefore it is inappropriate to refer to the language of Africans in Jamaica as Creole. Patois is a term used widely in Jamaica, but patois can refer to any language considered broken or degraded in the world. Pryce (1997) prefers to use the term ... ... middle of paper ... ...Nicholas, Tracy. Rastafari. — A Way of Life. Chicago: Research Associates School Times Publication, 1996. Oumano, E. "Reggae Says No to ‘Politricks’." The Nation, 265 (August 1997): 32-34. Pryce, Jean T. "Similarities Between the Debates on Ebonics and Jamaican." Journal of Black Psychology, 23 (August 1997): 238-241. Pulis, J. W. "Up-Full Sounds: Language, Identity, and the World-View of Rastafari." Ethnic Groups, 10 (1993): 285-300. Seeba, Mark. "How do you spell Patwa?" Critical Quarterl,y 38 (1996): 50-63. Seeba, Mark. "London Jamaican: Language systems in interaction." Languag,e 72 (1996): 426-427. "Talk Jamaican." Website. On-line. Internet. Available WWW: http://www.go.com/Titles?col=WW&qt=Jamaican+creole+or+patwa+or+patois&svx=home_searrchbox&sv=IS&Ik= Vasciannie, S. "The Official Language of Jamaica." Carribean Today, 10 (March 31, 1999).

More about Jamaican Patois and the Power of Language in Reggae Music

Open Document