Jamaican Creole vs Standard English

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Jamaican Creole and Standard English Contrasted |

Between 1066 and 1362, French was the official language of the England. English was viewed as an inferior vulgar hybridised Creole of Anglo-Saxon, Jutish, and Danish dialects. (Incidentally, Norman French itself could be described as a vulgar hybridised Creole of Gaulish, Latin, Norse, and Frankish dialects). Obviously, that opinion has changed, and in view of the humble origins of English it might be expected that English be understanding and supportive of its own dialects and Creoles. For many centuries, in Jamaica itself, English has been the prestige form, the sought after standard, whereas Jamaican Creole has been viewed as an inferior way of speaking; as a vulgar hybridised Creole of English, various West African dialects, and others. (Notice the emboldened words.) There are many features of Jamaican Creole, which mark it out as distinct from Standard English. For example, a recent email that I received read, “Wat ah way you know nuff people eh.” Most people who speak English as their first language would not understand that as a spoken phrase even if they could grasp its meaning from its written form. First, I’m going to present the pronominal systems of both English and Jamaican Creole and examine the strengths and weaknesses of both systems, then, I’m going to briefly discuss plural marking in both languages. Next, I will discuss the interesting origin of certain Jamaican Creole words and finally, i will discuss the need for standardisation in Jamaican Creole if it is ever to become an officially recognised language. The pronominal systemThe pronominal system of SE has a four-way distinction of person, number, case, and gender. Compared to Jamaican Creole there are a lot of differences. . | Singular Nominative| .| Singular Nominative| . | Possesive| .| Plural| .| Possesive| .| Masc.| Fem.| Masc.| Fem.| Masc.| Fem.| Masc.| Fem.| .| 1st Person| I| .| me| .| my| .| we| us| our|

2nd Person| you| .| you| .| your| .| you| you| your| 3rd Person| he| she| him| her| his| hers| they| them| their| .| it| .| it| .| its| .| .| .| .|
Standard English still holds to the obsolete indicators of case, nominative and accusative (basically subject and object) even though in English case is usually determined by position. eg. “Her hit he” is unacceptable in Modern English. So, why the need to distinguish between ‘he’ and ‘him’? The reason is because in Old English, case really mattered. “Her hit he” would still be understandable as “he hit her” simply because the nominative ‘he’ or ‘she’, no matter its position was always the subject or Agent of the sentence, whereas the accusative ‘him’ or ‘her’, was always the direct object or Theme. . | Singular| Plural| 1st Person| mi| wi|

2nd Person| yu| unu|
3rd Person| im| dem|
.| i/it| .|
As we can see, this is not the situation in Jamaican Creole. Case is always demonstrated by position. Any pronoun before the verb is the subject, and after the verb it is either the direct or indirect object. Other features to note are the lack of gender and absence of nominative and accusative case forms. Also lacking in Jamaican Creole are possessive pronouns like my, your, his, her, its, our, their. To demonstrate possession, Jamaican Creole either has the simple pronoun directly in front of a noun, (for example ‘my book’ would be ‘mi buk’), or adds the prefix fi-, (as in ‘fi-mi buk’ also meaning ‘my book’). Plural Marking Plural marking in Standard English is a hodgepodge of different forms borrowed and assimilated from many languages. The original Old English way of making plurals was either the addition of -n or -en or the changing of the vowel sound, as it is for Modern German. Those original Old English plural markers survive in a few Modern English words. For example child/children, man/men, ox/oxen, foot/feet. The Norman French way of making plurals was...
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