Date of Publication

5-5-2017

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Modern Languages and Cultures

First Advisor

Dr. Ewelina Barski-Moskal, Assistant Professor, Spanish

Abstract

Is Patwa a language? Linguistically speaking, Jamaican Creole is seen as a language. However, culturally there are many misconceptions about the status and importance of the language. This research focuses on a linguistic analysis of Jamaican Creole. Firstly, it emphasizes the diachronic linguistic aspects of the language, examining the origins of the language. British English played a very influential part in the development of Jamaican Creole as well as the Niger-Congo languages from West Africa. One sees how historically intertwined the Creole is with the context of slavery and the formation of other Creole languages across the colonial world. Secondly, the examination of the Creole’s grammar provides evidence of the evolution of the language, its divergence from British English and transference of some grammatical structures from the dominant Niger-Congo sect of languages, the Akan group (Twi). Thirdly, this research takes into consideration the sociolinguistic nature of Jamaican Creole; how it is perceived by its speakers and its status in society. Jamaican Creole has no rights in any public institution that relates to the state and the lives of citizens which includes the judicial system, public health care institutions, and schools. Interestingly enough, Jamaican Creole is present in all of these areas. It is more commonly used than the Jamaican Standard English because it is the language in which most have full fluency. This research calls for Jamaicans to challenge their current assumptions about Patwa, with the hope of fostering more positive attitudes towards the language. The purpose of this research is to give the audience an adequate explanation to why it is important to preserve and respect their own nation language. Essentially, I am promoting the message that, Patwa is a language, no ifs, buts, or maybes.

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