Ecology of a Language/Dialect

The Caribbean region has adopted blended languages that originated from their European colonialists, some African languages, and slightly some indigenous languages. The slaves spoke the African languages. The new languages that arose where named Creoles by scholars. In the present, Creoles are on their own, languages that represent hybrid cultures of a region. Even though the Caribbean countries use their respective colonial languages for official purposes, the Creoles prove to be dominant. Hence, Creoles are used by various nations to identify and express themselves. The Creole I chose to work on is Jamaican Patois.

I chose to report on a West Indian Creole language, also known as the Caribbean Creole English, Caribbean Creole, Creole English or Creole, terms used by scholars and linguists. The language I chose to work on is Jamaican Patois. Its native speakers call it Jamaican Patois, Patois (Patwah or Patwa), Jamiekan, or Jumiekan. The non-speakers mostly know it as the Jamaican Creole or Caribbean Creole English.

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According to studies show that by 2001, Jamaican Patois had approximately 3.2 million native speakers. The numbers have gradually increased as the world’s population increases. The language is native to various nations and regions like Jamaica, Dominican Republic (Samana Peninsula), Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Surinam, and Colombia (San Andres and Providencia). In Surinam, there are only two forms of the Creole; Sranan and Ndjuka. The language is also spoken in parts of Miami, Toronto, New York City, Washington DC, and Hartford. Other parts include Birmingham, London, Nottingham, and Manchester.

As stated earlier, Creoles are a blend of colonial languages, native languages, and some indigenous languages. Jamaica and the other nations mentioned above were colonialized by Britain; hence, the English Language. Therefore, Jamaican Patois is a derivative of the English language. Different dialects closely related to Jamaican Patois are Bocas Del Toro Creole, Limonese Creole, San Andres-Providencia Creole, and Miskito Coast Creole. Other dialects that the Jamaican Patois users use include Jamaican English, Kromanti Language, and different immigrant dialects from Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Arabic origin.

Although the Jamaican Patois is mostly used in private and informal communication, it is as well written. The Creole is mainly used for musical purposes, especially in dancehall, reggae, and other genres. In the year 1912, Claude McKay published his book that contained Jamaican poems called Songs of Jamaica. Since then, literature grew tremendously, and many written versions in Jamaican Patois have been released. Patois and English have also been used for stylistic contrast or instead code-switching in modern forms of internet writing. Linguists also study the language as literature in institutions. Lastly, the Creole is slowly influencing the media as it is used in television and radio in Jamaica.

The use of Jamaican Creole is not as much restricted, although there are some instances where it cannot be used. As mentioned above, the Creole is used in informal communication and musical and literature tenacities. For example, the phrase “im caan biit mi, im dʒos loki dat im won” is friendly and can be used in a conversation to mean “He can’t beat me, he simply got lucky and won”. In addition, the language is used by some natives in religion such that they pray to utilize the language and perform rituals. For instance, they recite the common Lord’s Prayer in the Creole. However, for official and formal drives, the language is not used. Instead, they use their official language English. Official matters include courts, schools, and federal and community gatherings.

Patois developed long since the 17th century. The language has grown over the years and is now globally known. However, it does not own supreme authority and power aspects. However, the Creole is mostly used by the natives. They use it to identify themselves in terms of their origin and their current location. For instance, once the language is spoken anywhere in the world, it is evident that the speaker is from the Caribbean. Also, the natives relate the language to their independence. They term the Creole as the new language that defines them after independence.

The Jamaican Patois began small and slowly went to its peak over the centuries. In fact, the language is widely used in its native regions more than the mother dialects. As such, the language is not in any way endangered. It keeps on growing each day. The language has been used extensively in the music industry, where the songs have received great appreciation in the entire globe. Even other countries have adopted musical genres similar to the Jamaican Patois. The language is also associated with the Rasta community, which has been takentaken in many countries worldwide. When you mention the term “Rasta,” people think of the Caribbean countries and the language.

To sum up, we understand the origin of the West Indian Creole language. We all have a native language that defines who we are as well as our roots. Hence, the more significant part of the Caribbean region is characterized by Jamaican Patois. The language is largely used by its natives in speech, verbal, and written contexts. We also discover that the language is not vanishing but rather germinating and could someday be a national language for the natives. This is because the language has found its way out of the Caribbean to the entire world. The natives proclaim their language as global and use the national identity as “tu di worl” meaning “to the world”.



Davidson, Cecelia, and Richard G. Schwartz. “Semantic boundaries in the lexicon: Examples from Jamaican patois.” Linguistics and Education 7, no. 1 (2005): 47-64.

Durrleman, Stephanie, ed. The syntax of Jamaican Creole: A cartographic perspective. Vol. 127. John Benjamins Publishing, 2008.

Sebba, Mark. London Jamaican: Language system in interaction. Routledge, 2014.

Udovičić, Anita. “Jamaican English.” Ph.D. diss., Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek. Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences., 2015.