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Creole Language in Jamaica




Jamaican Creole is a language distinctive to the island of Jamaica. The historical past of Jamaica is responsible for the development of Jamaican Creole. With the Spanish Conquest of Jamaica, European powers started arriving
on the island. English was the language of the conquerors. The natives of Jamaica were however not familiar with the language.

The need for communication between the natives and the Europeans, mainly British, led to the formation of a language consisting of the elements of English mixed with other European languages like Spanish, Irish and Scottish. The inclusion of various local words added a new dimension to Jamaican Creole.

The word 'creole' means a language formed by the unison of two or more languages. Jamaican Creole has another name Patois. It is a spoken language of the Jamaicans.

Jamaican Creole attained a place of significance with the decolonization of Jamaica. The respect of English as a superior language as it belonged to the rulers somewhat diminished. The main reason of the popularity of Jamaican Creole is the development of a sense of pride for their distinctive culture. For many years Jamaican Creole was thought to be a sort of broken English. The truth however is different, Jamaican Creole is a linguist continuum. Though English words have been borrowed and adopted in Patois, it has a position of its own.

English is still used as the official and formal language in Jamaica as Jamaican Creole is essentially a spoken language. It is difficult for the children as they speak Patois and learn English in schools. Jamaican Creole can not be easily understood by people who do not know the language.

The rhythm and beauty of the Jamaican Creole has however not gone unnoticed. It has been used as a medium of expression inliterature, in poems, stories and plays. Patois is also used in the composition of lyrics of the popular kind of music, the Reggae.