The Caribbean Language Situation: An Overview Dr. Shondel Nero UWI, Mona - School of Education Semester 1 2011 Language in Jamaica The following is an exchange heard in a grade seven classroom Teacher: What did I say the family is? Student 1: Miss the family is a group of people living together and caring for each other Student 2: Mis dis bwai tomp mi aa push di des paa mi Teacher: Last week we looked at members of the family Student 3: Yes Miss. Mother, children, father, sister, brother Teacher: Last week we looked at the roles of the father Student 4: Mii tiicha/go out an werk/ an ern di moni tu bai fuud Teacher: Now we are going to look at the roles of the mother Student 5: Mek shuor di fuud iz kuk/mek shuor shi pripier di chiljren far skuul Features of Jamaican classrooms Children enter the school system with English or Jamaican Creole (JC) or a mixture of both. JC is used within the school, almost all the time. Many teachers do not use English (Shields, 1989) A range of varieties A continuum or 2 co-existent systems A range of varieties im a nyam im dinna im a iit im dinna im iiting im dinna him is eating him dinna he is eating his dinner. (Hall-Alleyne, 1981: 32) Where did Jamaican come from? The Acquisition Process in Jamaica: Plantation system Many different languages Twi-Asante paramount In contact with English Importance of language contact (central to L2 acquisition) Many different points of access to English (stratification) Standardising English The development of the printing press by William Caxton. Caxton spoke the East Midlands dialect, which was in use in parts of southern England around the Thames. The language used in his first printed work. The two major British universities (Oxford and Cambridge) used this particular variety; also helped to secure its status. Choice of dialect was not rule-governed- helps to explain why English is so unpredictable and the rationale for some of the demands made on what you learn. English was one of the European languages brought to the Caribbean. It is the language used in this part of the world as an international means of communication.. Creole Continuum ------------------------------------------------------------------ Basilect Mesolect Creole Creole English Patois/Patwa Creolese Acrolect Standard English Phonology (African continuities) Archaic forms “ratta” “yerri” musu end in vowelsuggests that at one time all words in Jcn ended this way- an attempt to align English and West African syllabic structures Insertion of vowel in nasal consonants sinake sumaal Pitch/tone (stress as the word rises or falls; sound can be ordered on a scale of high to low); important feature in older Jcn kyaang Shift in sounds of D to or V to B eg beks hebi Morpho-syntax (African continuities) Where properties of morphology and syntax apply e.g. number in nouns - add s + sing. - subject takes sing. verb) Changed little since established in 16th and 17 th centuries, except in changes connected with continuum . Blurring of distinctions between verb and adjective eg. Dem mad mi (big-up) Use of transitivity Serial verbs: he take picture show his child Use of seh anyhow she; relic of Niger Congo, also found in London Lexico-semantics (African continuities) Some African words died out if they were not tied to things still in use: benta; some still in use with Jamaican things afu, pumpum, backra, ackee etc. Gender and generation: expressed by affixing words meaning eg male/female man cow (bull) Juxtaposition: must be definitional eyewater; nose hole (what of babyfather?) 20th century ideologies (with African continuities) Rastafarianism – African continuity e.g. philosophical idea of the power of the word Pronominal system (I and I) Reveals Jamaican facility with language Some rules of Jamaican Creole (according to Bailey and Craig) Unmarked verb for: Tense (e.g. She come yestadie) Subject/verb concord (e.g. Im waak to skuul) Zero copula (verb “to be”) if: Predicate is adjective (e.g. Yuh sick) Verb in progressive form (e.g Im workin) Location (e.g. Mih sista outside) Rules of Jamaican Creole (cont’d) Flexible pronoun use (e.g ‘im tell she/her) Inverted sentence Serial verbs (e.g. she come start cook right away) Zero marking for plurals if number already indicated (e.g. t(h)ree dahla; if no number indicated, use “dem”, e.g. dih man dem Summary Creoles based on language coming out of plantation society English-based Creoles are fraught with controversy Two co-existent grammatical systems OR Unidirectional Continuum Social differentiation Language inextricably tied to identity Implications for school Status of Creole in the Caribbean (Carrington, 2001) Tendency to assess the status of Creole by reference to its coexistence with a European standard variety Literature on the status of Creoles in two categories (1) Functional distribution of the language in various domains, specifically the level of penetration into those domains (2) Attitudes of different categories of users towards use of Creole in various domains. Domains used as measures of Creole penetration Politics and government The media Performing and literary arts Education Politics and government Haiti is the only country in the region that identifies Creole (along with French) as a language within its constitution In Aruba and Netherlands Antilles – Papiamentu used for govt to people communication The Media Creole has already penetrated print media, especially newspapers and church periodicals the latter (notable in French Creole territories) Widespread on the radio, especially call-in talk shows Popular on religious stations in French Creole territories Creole not as common in TV news broadcasts in anglophone territories; more so in French territories. Performing and literary arts Creole has long penetrated performance poetry (e.g., Louise Bennett, Mutabaruka, Paul KeensDouglas) Evident in literary publications (e.g work of Pollard, Olive Senior, Merle Hodge, etc. Has dominated the music industry – reggae, dancehall, etc. Attitudes Towards Creole Contradictory attitudes – Creole is at once celebrated and denigrated; Kachru and Nelson (2001) call this “attitudinal schizophrenia” (p. 14) Creole celebrated to mark true Caribbean identity; for solidarity; for artistic performance; for humor; for being “real”. Denigrated -- Steretypes linked to speaking Creole, eg. poor, uneducated, unskilled. Conservative attitude attached to speaking English Public attitudes towards JC is changing; there’s more tolerance for its use in public, especially among youth (Jamaican Language Unit Survey, 2005). Education Attitudes towards the use of Creole in education have been and continue to be controversial Many parents and Creole speakers themselves are opposed to the use of Creole in school or as a medium of instruction. Typical objections to the use of Creole in school (Siegel, 2006) It is a waste of time, and has no practical benefit. If the goal of schooling is acquiring proficiency in standard English (SE), then time spent on Creole takes away from acquisition of SE. Interference (in the sense of negative transfer) – Creole might interference with the acquisition of SE. Creole marks students as lesser – linguistically, socioeconomically, and educationally. It can further ghettoize students who are already marginalized, thereby preventing our delaying their academic success and job prospects. JC in Education Promote Creole as the medium of instruction (Devonish & Carpenter, 2007). Accept Creole as the mother tongue and the bridge to L2 acquisition (Craig, 2006) Purge Creole from the classroom and promote monolingualism in English Expect many other positions in between The Jamaican Language Education Policy (2001) adopted an approach of transitional bilingualism. References Alleyne, M. (1980). Comparative Afro-American. Ann Arbor:Karoma Press. Bailey, B. (year?) Carrington, L. (2001). The status of Creole in the Caribbean. InP. Christie (Ed.). Due respect: Papers on English and English- related Creoles in the Caribbean in honour of Professor RobertLe Page (pp. 24-36). Kingston: UWI Press. Christie, P. (2001). Forty years on. In P. Christie (Ed.). Due respect: Papers on English and English-related Creoles in the Caribbean in honour of Professor Robert Le Page (pp. 1-21). Kingston: UWI Press. References (cont’d) Craig, D. (1983). Teaching standard English to nonstandard speakers: Some methodological issues. Journal of NegroEducation, 52 (1), 65-74. ________ (2006). From vernacular to standard English: Teaching language and literacy to Caribbean students Miami, FL: Ian Randle Publishers. Devonish, H. & Carpenter, K. (2007). Full bilingual education in a creole situation: The Jamaican bilingual primary education project. Occasional paper No. 35. Society for Caribbean Linguistics. Trinidad and Tobago: UWI, St. Augustine. Hall-Alleyne (1981). References (cont’d) Jamaican Language Unit, University of the West Indies. (2005). Language attitude survey of Jamaica. Mona, Jamaica. Kachru, B. & Nelson, C. (2001). World Englishes. In A. Burns & C. Coffin(Eds.), Analysing English in a global context (pp. 125). London andNew York: Routledge. LePage, R., & Tabouret-Keller, A. (1985). Acts of identity: Creole- based approaches to language and ethnicity. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press. Ministry of Education, Jamaica. (2001). Language education policy. Retrieved from the worldwide web on May 23, 2006 at: http://www.moec.gov.jm/policies/languagepolicy.pdf References (cont’d) Shields, K. (1989). Standard English in Jamaica: A case of competing models. English Worldwide 10 (1), 41-53. Siegel, J. (2006). Keeping creoles and dialects out of the classroom. Is it justified. In S. Nero (Ed.), Dialects, Englishes, Creoles, and Education (pp. 3967). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers.