I had a delightful yet spirited conversation with my beautiful aunt Sandy who was visiting New York from Jamaica last Summer, which lasted all the way as we drove up from Brooklyn to Poughkeepsie.
Aunt Sandy is an educator who lives in Jamaica, she loves her “patios” dearly. To be referred to as (
Me I love my
That is not to suggest that my dear aunt doesn’t. She just believes that as far as
We are in winter now, and after much thinking and mental turmoil, I am still where I was on our discussion.
I still say
So I decided to look at the definitions of both “dialect” and “language”, so here goes.
Dialect: A regional variety of language distinguished by features of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation from other regional varieties and constituting together with them a single language [Merriam Webster]
Makes sense to me since we learned that our beloved native
Language: (1a) The words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community.
b(1): audible, articulate, meaningful sound as produced by the action of the vocal organs
(2): a systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings
Okay, so I took the liberty to highlight a few of the defining words and terms which I believe are germane in differentiating between what is standard language and the less formal dialect.
My contention is not that
Now, I understand that emotionalism sometimes clouds our thinking and our sense of patriotism gets in the way of rational evaluation at times.
So I’m quite sure that my thoughts on this issue will run afoul of some patriots who are hell-bent on maintaining that it is what they say it is because it is patently Jamaican.
Of course, that was not the way my aunt Sandy and I discussed it, we were cordial and even jovial even as we disagreed vehemently.
I have to remind all as I reminded auntie Sandy, that
We who came from the peasantry were looked down on with scorn and derision because we spoke the way we did by the upper Saint Andrew Gentry.
Until of course many from the peasantry took advantage of educational opportunities and joined the gentry, or so they thought, smile.
By then the Gentry had become darker even if not any less offensive.
So, in other words,
Now, all of a sudden because
In other words, it is not fashionable and acceptable unless and until they say it is.
Despite all of that and the fact that I was royally pissed at the gentry during my public service years when they would ask me ” where were you trained”?
(Fake accents included)
That is not the reason I say our beloved
Sure we use it to communicate among ourselves, and yes, some foreigners are fascinated with it as they would with a cute little puppy.
Nevertheless, each and every person who writes it spells the words differently. The sentences are constructed at the whim and fancy of the writer and to a certain degree that is a part of the charm of our Jamaican lingo.
There is no consensus on how each word is to be spelled and documented and used universally.
Because we have not yet formalized those processes which are outlined in the definition of language and because no one but us, plus a few curious tourists understand what we are talking about and would not understand any of it, even if its written, by the new
Most importantly, it is when we have a standard way of writing, spelling, and understanding words and are able to be tested on them that we are best able to determine whether we are learning what is being taught us.
It is not about each person doing his or her own thing his or her own way.
Auntie Sandy and I will agree to disagree on this one.