Dialect Poems and Their Role in Society.

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The Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Agnes 1999,397) defines dialect as “a form or variety of a spoken language including the standard form, peculiar to a region, community, social group, occupational… and although it includes the standard form of language spoken by the region, community…it differs from it in matters of pronunciation, syntax …”. But somehow, the Caribbean dialect has been a form of expression which has still not been widely accepted or respected by people living within the region and those within the wider world. In the early 1900’s, the use of dialect in Jamaican advertisements on the radio by the late Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley was received with some amount of reservation from the various quarters of the region. Some critics believed that the use of dialect in the media created a stereotype of the people and the language (Herdeck 1979). However, in 1965, Bennett’s performance at the Commonwealth Festival of Arts, which was laced with the Jamaican dialect, was positively reviewed as having the uncanny ability to grasp an experience which can be understood across cultures (Herdeck 1979). Despite this, the rejection of our dialect is still present but the work of dialect poems is increasing its popularity as a form of literature.

Dialect poetry is a profound tool for the dissemination of pro-social messages. According to Chamberlain (1993), there is an increase in the call for the greater use of dialect in both spoken and written expressions. This support for dialect, along with the pervasiveness of the African Oral tradition (Habekost 1993), within the global society, presents the genre as an excellent social tool. Thus the researcher is convinced that since dialect poetry stems from our past and is a part of our culture, its effectiveness as a social tool is therefore increased through the incorporation of the messages it expresses. Dialect poetry as a social learning tool is also based on its attention grabbing ability....
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