Dialect v 'proper' language
Many individual Caribbean countries have their own distinct dialect or 'patois' in addition to the official language.
There has been widespread debate on whether those dialects should be recognised as legitimate languages.
The topic came up again last week among the French Caribbean community in Britain at their annual Creole Day celebrations.
Some other countries want to follow the footsteps of Haiti which is the only country where Creole is an official language.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Have your say
I am so glad that we are now recognised as a people - Caribbean people.
Just like Americans speak proper English but then have their own dialect: "hey that is like the coolest thing I've ever saw"
- (That is the coolest thing I have ever seen)we also have it. It's just that the line between American English and "patois"
is thinner than the line in the Caribbean.
Yes I do think that our dialects should recognised as official languages because the way we speak is influenced by our countries'
history. So wouldn't disowning our dialects be just like disowning our history.
Dialects are essential for the evolution of languages. How do you think English was created? It was a combination of Garmanic
and Scandinavian languages, French, and bad Latin. Languages evolve a lot more slowly now due to standardisation and globalisation,
so whenever we have an opportunity to help it along, we shouldn't hinder it due to some unnecessary loyalty to our own pronunciations.
It is a fact that the majority of West Indians speak dialect and to understand it is a necessity in day to day life. The British
have many different accents and you will here them say many words in which if they were speaking to an island person they
may have no idea what the Brit is talking about. The same goes for the Australians. But I may be mistaken but there is no
In order for a language to become official, it has to be recognised by a group of people. There have been studies in the past
about how languages develop and evolve. To simply dismiss different varieties of English as "Bad English" is completely false.
Many of these patois and creoles have grammatical structures and are accepted by its people. If Caribbean English is considered
bad English then what about American Standard English in comparison to Standard British English. Although we can understand
each other there are some differences in language. Furthermore, weren't the first Americans British decedents? This should
mean that American English is also a bad form of English because it's not exactly like the British form. The same could be
said for French spoken in Quebec, but you never here any debates about this. Caribbean people must learn to love and embrace
their uniqueness. This is what sets us apart from others.
Dear Frank Smith and all others like you, let me remind you that "American English" is nothing more than the bastard child
of "Queens English", words are spelt differently (mostly lazy - they spell them how they sound, the way a child would), and
mispronounce them. And since it is called English, then it's England's, so if that's not how they say it then that's broken.
So maybe we should do away with "American English"? Who are you people who think that you have the right to tell me that your
language is the right one? English is made up of stolen and mispronounced words that we say the "root word" is Latin or French
or so on. So if "mi wha chat how me feel an ow my ppl talk yu chaa tell mi nutten ar fi stap". We must elevate ourselves from
this mind set that whatever the old Colonial powers do is the right and only way. Personally I'm not gonna live my life by
the rules of ppl who thought slavery was right.
A people's culture is wrapped up in their language. Let a language die, you let a culture die and not officially recognising
a language is a good way to kill that language.
Perhaps there shouldn't be a versus debate. As long as you could maintain both, be able to discern their uses, then this is
not a problem. Personally, I use both depending on the setting. The varying forms of our anglophone Caribbean dialect, is
more than just a broken form of English. It's foundation goes back to Africa. If I were to write to you in my dialect, I am
quite sure that the majority of readers may not be able to understand. One may further think that it is Germanic or some form
of non-latin based language.
Those who are equally at ease in standard English and what is referred to as "broken English " or dialect are at a distinct
advantage. Problems arise when dialect and English are mixed and confused.
I think "Proper"language is standard especially when communicating on an international level. But your dialect is the local
language spoken on a more informal level. So both have their own relevance and should not be confused.
I think instead of letting this be a language, Caribbean should learn to speak proper English. So I say no that is not a language.
It's a disgusting way to speak because the words are not pronounced correctly for example we say arange and it should be orange.
Why do people keep saying that English dialect cannot be written. The Antiguan 'Broken English' dialect has been written among
Antiguans for years. We have books/literature in dialect. Our newspapers contain some form of dialect daily. We write it to
each other and everyone can understand. I understand that a bible has been published in the Jamaican form of Broken English,
with many other publications along decades.
Broken English, dialect even patois are no way to describe the Creole languages spoken throughout the Caribbean.
In the Caribbean, people from different islands are recognized by their accents. Dialect or broken English is usually what
is communicated between friends. Our writing, official documents and other forms official communication is done in English.
English is the official language of many countries and our dialects have not gotten in the way of communicating with other
heads of government throughout the world or people anywhere. Our accent defines us, 'cause I could tell a Trini as soon as
he open he mouth, or a Jamaican, and I know the difference between a Lucian or a Dominican. Just let it be. We are fine the
way it is.
Patois can be written and read, hence the Caribbean scripts, plays and pantomimes. It’s broken English and it should be recognised
as it is our culture and must of us speak it daily to our children and friends. Every nation or region has they own unique
mark, and patois is ours.
Growing up, my mother always insisted on 'proper English'. Therefore, it has never been a personal practice of mine. In St
Vincent, the dialect used is moreso a form of broken English with mild traces of French words thrown in. I do not think there
would be enough variance to the 'proper' English to really warrant a move towards formalizing it in this form.
As a born Caribbean man I truly believe that we should keep our own dialect as a language cause it is so unique to identify
us. Also, it help us keep our culture which is dying so fast because of rapid migration, and we are ever being taught that
to speak like that is wrong. Ever since I was a child, I always wondered why, and who are these people to tell us how to speak
when you cannot get an Englishman or woman to change his or her accent nor an Australian to chance theirs. We in the Caribbean
should be able to keep our unique way we speak. So, Trini, Bajan, Guyanese, Vinci, Lucian, Jamican, Antiguan, or wherever
you are from, we should be able to keep our dialect. Developed countries are allowed to do so, so why can't we?
Yes, dialect should be recognised.
The idea that the dialects in the English-speaking islands cannot be written, is absolutely incorrect. It is written and spoken
everyday. Because you do not see English-speaking islanders not writing it when they communicate with you, do not think for
one moment that we don't. Ya nah see it? It is our communication when we speak to each other at work.
I can only address the issue of dialect in the English-speaking Caribbean. In each of these islands there's a different form
of dialect that I'll refer to as "broken English." Sometimes it’s convenient and helps to make your point more forceful when
spoken, but it’s so difficult to read and write. I think the correct English should be taught in schools, but use the dialect
when communicating with your peers and friends. I think certain words and phrases are unique to each country and as such
each country can make a compilation of such. Dialect helps define one’s country.
How long can this French-based Creole/Patois survive in some of these countries??? The whole world going English, so get a
grip people. Make some choices that will have some meaningful impact and just don’t be out in the cold.
Clayton, 'most is'?!! Dialect is usually just a lazy person's excuse for speaking properly and should be outlawed, except
for poking fun!!
Most of the dialects used in the English-speaking islands is just a form of broken English, which cannot be considered a language
in itself because it cannot be written. But the patois we speak in Haiti, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique and St Lucia is
more distinct, has an alphabet and can be written. It is already official in Haiti, taught at school in the French departments
and used in parliament in St Lucia. This is the one which should be recognized as legitimate.