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A dedicated assessment section assists with both the Internal Assessment portfolio and exam preparation, providing invaluable and practical support for both students and teachers alike.

“Any student who is preparing for the CAPE Communication Studies exam will find this text an asset. I can confidently say that if students follow the guidance given in this book, they will be successful.” Winifred Ellis, Vice Principal of Saint Joseph High School, Guyana, and member of the subject panel for Communication Studies.

s e i d u t S n o i t a c i n u m m o C CAPE Lelia Lord is an experienced teacher of 35 years. She has taught Communication Studies at Harrison College in Barbados for nine years and has experience as an assistant examiner in the subject. Maureen Dee-Hosein teaches Communication Studies at Presentation College in Trinidad. Elizabeth Habib is an experienced educator with 28 years of teaching practice. She currently teaches Communication Studies at Fatima College, Trinidad. Sonia Lee is a master teacher of Communication Studies at Immaculate Conception High School in Jamaica. CAPE is a registered trademark of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). CAPE® Communication Studies is an independent publication and has not been authorised, sponsored, or otherwise approved by CXC.

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Chapter

5

e r u t a n l a i The soc e g a u g n a l f o W

e use language for different functions or purposes and most human communication performs more than one function at a time. For example, an advertisement may give information but its main purpose is to persuade readers or listeners to believe in the superiority of the product and buy it. A stand-up comedian may appear to be relating an incident but he really wants his audience to derive pleasure from his performance – and laugh! In this chapter we will first examine how language is used to inform, persuade, question, direct and provide aesthetic pleasure. We will also examine how different purposes of language are expressed by using different codes and registers. Finally, we will look at how language changes over time, the factors that contribute to these changes and how historical and social factors affect attitudes to language.

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By the end of this chapter you should be able to: • State the functions or purposes of language • Make the appropriate choice of discourse for each function • Use emotive, neutral, connotative and denotative language • Recognise changes in register and code • State the factors that influence language variation • Discuss the history and development of Caribbean creoles • Discuss attitudes to language

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Figure 5.1 Language has different functions

Purposes of Language The informative purpose

The most obvious function of language is the informative (or communicative) function. This function is used to convey ideas, truth statements, instructions, abstract and complex propositions and to aid understanding. Textbooks and other academic sources, historical records, legal documents, lectures and news reports that present facts fulfil the informative purpose of language. Because a neutral tone is most appropriate for presenting information, denotative rather than connotative language is used. Denotative language is interpreted literally whereas connotative language has emotive shades of meaning, as shown in the (denonative) example below:

On the morning of 11 September 2001, two planes were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Thousands of people died, among them many firemen who had responded to the emergency call. This event would usher in a new era in international politics.

The expressive purpose The expressive or reflective purpose allows for the use of emotive language that communicates and evokes feelings and attitudes. Self-expression in the form of diaries and journals does not necessarily require a response. Reflection may take the form of memories, personal prayers, mental calculation and creative problem-solving. Expressive discourse is often used in poetry, descriptive and creative expression, memoirs and testimonials and usually has a strong personal orientation. The expressive function of language can also be said to provide aesthetic pleasure for the reader or listener, as shown below.

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It was the day the world changed. The daily routine of New York hustle and bustle came to a crashing halt and the collapse of those towers shattered the dreams of millions whose lives would never be the same and for whom the American dream was transformed into a nightmare from which some would never awaken.

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Chapter 5 The social nature of language

The directive purpose The directive or cognitive purpose is aimed at provoking a response from an audience. Connotative language is used to persuade, entertain, awaken feelings of sympathy and even move the audience to action. It may be used to transmit a direct command or request or may employ imagery and figurative language to create an atmosphere that will achieve the desired purpose. Whereas expressive language has a more personal focus, directive language consciously targets its audience. The cognitive function is used in political discourse, debates, sermons, inspirational speech and writing, comedy and drama. Argumentative writing and rhetorical statements are examples of how language is used for questioning or challenging certain assumptions:

September 11, 2001. That was the day that a handful of terrorists took advantage of the freedom we hold so dear to take us hostage – every man, woman and child – to fear. Fear of religious fervour, fear of the disregard for the sanctity of life that threatens our faith in humanity and subjects us to the whims of those who would destroy our hardwon freedoms. We must not let them win.

The social purpose Sometimes the way we use language has more to do with certain cultural or ceremonial conventions that relate to social interaction in a particular community. Certain expressions in spoken and written communication such as daily polite exchanges – ‘Good morning’ or ‘Have a nice day’ – and the salutations used in letter writing do not call for a spontaneous response but if ignored can lead to awkwardness in social relations. These types of exchanges are known as phatic communication.

The identifying purpose Language can also have an identifying purpose as seen in the use of slogans, chants, anthems, nicknames and other terms that allow for expression of personal or group identity. Examples are songs or chants used at sporting events.

Figure 5.2 Language can be used to challenge certain assumptions

The ritual purpose Ceremonial and religious traditions also involve the use of language that has a ritual function and offers its users the possibility of exercising control over certain aspects of their lives.

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Activity 1

Which language functions are represented in the following cartoons? 1

2

Language Register Register refers to the level of formality used in written or spoken language, based on the purpose and situation of what is being communicated and why. A sportscaster reporting on a football match would be more likely to say:

With four minutes remaining, it’s Martin, taking his time, this one is met by Sherman. The shot is on, into the danger area, and it’s headed down by Baker. Not much pace about the game at the moment... Baker to Andrews... Ohhh! That was a poor shot! than:

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Well, since there are only four minutes left, Martin, it seems, has decided to delay the pace of the game in order to…

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Chapter 5 The social nature of language

There are six language registers. They are: 1

Frozen: used in formulaic expression such as prayers, oaths, legal phraseology, scientific and technical communication. This register usually contains complex sentence structures and technical vocabulary and the word order is fixed. For example:

The accused was not called upon to plead as charges were laid indictably.

I…, having been elected to the office of…, do solemnly swear that I shall uphold the constitution of... and shall discharge my duties without fear or favour… .

Figure 5.3 Frozen register

2

Formal: used in public speeches on formal occasions and in formal written communication. The sentence structure and vocabulary are complex but more easily understood in general than some forms of frozen register. Standard language is usually preferred and complete sentences are used. Spontaneous verbal feedback is not expected. For example:

Mr President, members of the board of governors, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to address you on this occasion…

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter of application dated… 3

Consultative: used for communication in a professional or business transaction such as interviews, teacher–student, doctor–patient, service provider–client interaction. This

Figure 5.4 Frozen register

register indicates that the speakers are not intimately related but that there is sustained communication between them. Standard and non-standard forms of language may be used as the speakers may switch codes to relate more easily to each other. Complete sentences are used where necessary and polite expressions reinforce the conversational nature of the interchange. For example:

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‘Good morning, sir, how may I help you?’ ‘I’d like to make a reservation for a double room for two nights, please.’

‘Yes, Mrs Stanley. I have your application here. Will you be willing to come in for an interview on Monday the 25th at nine o’clock?’ ‘Yes, Mr Vincent.’ ‘Very well. My receptionist will be expecting you.’ 4

Casual/Informal: used with casual acquaintances, peers and colleagues, but not close friends. The topic of discussion may be general and there is a conversational tone reflected in the use of colloquialisms and slang. There is less concern for the use of polite expressions. Incomplete sentences and interruptions are common and the conversation may not follow a logical sequence. There may also be attempts to code-switch to adopt the dialect of the other person. For example:

‘What’s up? Everyting OK?’ ‘For now. You saw de match yesterday?’ ‘Yeh, it was bess! Wah yuh tink bout de new teacher?’ ‘I ent see she yet. Wat she teachin?’ 5

Intimate: used with family members and close friends. Communication is aided by nonverbal elements and reference may be made to unspecified topics and situations. There is evidence of intimacy in the use of nicknames and terms of endearment as well as expression of personal emotions. Incomplete sentences, interruptions, shortened responses and unexplained references are the norm. Dialect is not modified. For example:

‘Hello?’ ‘Hello, Mom. It’s me. Can I spend the night at Brian’s house? We’re going to study.’ ‘Do his parents know? And what about your tennis lesson tomorrow?’ ‘It’s okay, his mom will drop me off in the morning.’ ‘Okay, honey. See you then. Bye.’ 6

Private: used to express personal impressions, musings, self-talk and reflection. Incomplete sentences, simple vocabulary, use of standard or non-standard varieties reflect the speaker’s level of comfort with the language. Exclamations, interjections and non-verbal expressions are possible. For example:

Well, I don’t believe it. Where did I put that book? Oh, no! Please don’t tell me I lost it.

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Chapter 5 The social nature of language

Dear diary, Just when I thought that things couldn’t get worse, they did. Will these clouds of darkness and confusion never leave me? What’s next? When will it all end? If only... But it’s useless wishing. Nothing seems to work... and yet I keep on hoping. Hoping for what? Some relief from this nightmare, this disaster that is my life... Table 5.1 contains several examples of how different registers can be used to convey the same information.

Different registers FROZEN

FORMAL

CONSULTATIVE

CASUAL/

INTIMATE

PRIVATE

INFORMAL We regret to

I am sorry to

Unfortunately I

Did you know

You know

Oh no! He

announce the

inform you that

have to tell you

that… died?

that man

dead!

death of...

we have just

that... has died.

died…

received news that… It is hereby

The

It is my duty to

You know, I have to

I didn’ tell

I was sure I

declared and

management

inform you that...

tell you…

you that…?

tell dem…

agreed that…

wishes to advise that...

Contraindications:

The use of

I would not

You know, you

You crazy?

Dey say ah

not to be taken in

antibiotics is not

recommend that

shouldn’t use this if

Doh take dat

shouldn

cases of allergy, …

recommended.

you take…

you are…

tablet.

take this, but…

Table 5.1

Hints to help distinguish between registers •

Frozen register does not sound like communication that would be used in the course of normal conversation. It does not allow for spontaneous expression.

Formal register is bound by conventions of speech and writing with respect to carefully chosen terms and phrases. It can be described as the language of academics and is marked by the use of the passive voice and impersonal constructions, for example: ‘It can be observed that...’, ‘One can only assume that...’. It does not lend itself to conversation so colloquialisms, ellipses and contractions are not acceptable.

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Activity 2

1

2

Read the following and identify the register in which each is written: a)

Preliminary investigations indicate the use of one or more incendiary devices.

b)

20 g of copper sulphate crystals was dissolved in a beaker containing 200 ml of H2O. The aqueous was then heated. The following observations were made.

c)

While it is often assumed that dialects are an inferior form of language, this is in fact not the case.

d)

I don’t think that it is in your best interests to pursue this course of action, but of course the final decision is yours. Have you considered your options?

e)

Doh be stupid, eh. Listen to wat ah tellin yuh and doh roll up yuh eye wen ah talkin to yuh.

f)

The Board of Governors wishes to announce that, effective immediately, all correspondence must be addressed directly to the Chairman.

g)

Do you remember what we discussed the other day? What do you think I should do?

h)

Further to our correspondence on 24 March 2009, I wish to respectfully decline the appointment as Chairman of the Board.

i)

Who, me? I doh want that job at all.

Write each of the following scenarios in three different registers to give examples of how the following would be expressed in different contexts: a)

a request for cell phones to be switched off

b)

a reminder to the public that smoking is not allowed on the premises

c)

an announcement of an impending hurricane

d)

an advertisement for a government environmental protection campaign.

Language Variation As we discussed in the previous chapter, language is human and, therefore, it responds to social and other pressures such as technological developments and economic and political change. The dynamic nature of language means that language variation is always taking place. In fact, at any period of language history, varieties of language coexist. These varieties usually develop in cases where there is limited communication between different parts of a community that share one language. Geographical boundaries, isolation, political conflict or military hostilities may lead to sustained loss of contact between groups so that changes in the language are not shared by all speech communities. The variety of a language common to a particular speech community is called a dialect. Dialects are usually regional and a source of shared identity and community. All languages have dialects that are mutually intelligible to the speakers of each variety. For example, there are dialects of English, French and other standard languages, as well as different standard languages (British, American, Canadian, Australian and so on). In the play Pygmalion on which the film My Fair Lady is based, Professor Higgins bemoaned the failure of the English to learn the

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‘proper way’ to speak and claimed to be able to identify a man’s place of birth by his speech.

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Chapter 5 The social nature of language

An Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him – The moment he talks he makes some other Englishman despise him. One common language I’m afraid we’ll never get – Oh why can’t the English learn to... Set a good example to people whose English is painful to your ears. The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears. There even are places where English completely disappears – Well in America they haven’t used it for years. Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady

Perhaps the most well-known British dialect is Cockney, the traditional speech form of inhabitants of the East End of London. Cockney is intriguing not only for its unique lexicon and pronunciation but also for its rhyming slang, which serves as a code to exclude the uninitiated and reflects a very humorous outlook on life. Some Cockney terms have been absorbed into colloquial English, for example: bread (money) – bread and honey; brass tacks (facts). Here are some examples of Cockney rhyming slang: •

butcher’s hook = look – ‘Let’s ’ave a butcher’s at it.’

trouble and strife = wife

chew the fat = have a chat

bacon and eggs = legs

bull and cow = row

German bands = hands – ‘Me Germans are cold’

Oliver Twist = fist

Rosy Lee = tea

Figure 5.5 Cockney slang

It is important to distinguish between dialect and accent, which is a specific way of pronouncing words. You may have noticed in the examples that Cockney speakers drop /h/, as do speakers in many other regions of England and Wales. Some Americans pronounce /r/ in ‘car’ but many do not.

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However, differences in accent do not indicate a different dialect because dialects differ from each other in terms of semantics (word choice), syntax (sentence structure), grammar and morphology (word forms) whereas accents refer to pronunciation. Accents, like dialects, can be regional or social. They can be used to strengthen social bonding or to increase prestige. News reporters from different regions, for example, do not all speak with the same accent even when they are reporting in standard English. The dialect spoken by the dominant group in the society commands the most prestige and becomes the target to which others aspire. Education, publishing and an established body of literature enhance the status of the prestigious dialect and it emerges as the standard, often supported by economic, political and social factors. Many educated people speak two dialects – the standard and a non-standard dialect. The ability to manipulate the two based on the social setting is called code-switching or style-shifting.

Activity 3

1

Look at or listen to a few news broadcasts featuring speakers from different Caribbean or other English-speaking countries. Can you recognise different accents?

2

A new store clerk greets her first customer: ‘Yes? Ah could help yuh?’ Her employer explains that her greeting is inappropriate. What should she say?

Prestige Assumptions about the social class of a speaker are often based on their use of a particular code or style of language; overt prestige is associated with using the standard language, as well as having a prestigious accent. For example, in Britain, superior status has traditionally been accorded to ‘Queen’s English’ and what is called Received Pronunciation (RP); in the USA, formal broadcasting accepts the speech and pronunciation patterns of the Midwest as the norm. In the Caribbean, while the perception of the superiority of the Queen’s English still exists, the influence of American media has contributed to the adoption of Americanisms in broadcasting and public communication. Arguments for and against the validity of a language involve issues of privilege and prestige, identity and cultural heritage. A language acquires prestige when: •

Its speakers occupy a dominant role in the society.

It affords its speakers access to economic power and upward social mobility.

It is the recognised language for education.

It has value as the instrument of technological innovation.

There is a significant body of written work using that language.

Changing attitudes to language have created more acceptance of non-standard forms and the development of covert prestige. Covert prestige allows people to identify with others based on age, gender, regional or cultural norms. In the Caribbean, there is increased use of vernacular forms in the mass media for general purposes other than humour or cultural events. The popular music industry has also contributed to young people in the Caribbean developing forms of expression that are heavily influenced by the language of dancehall, rap, urban street slang and other contemporary forms.

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Chapter 5 The social nature of language

How History Affects Language The history of language is bound up with the history of civilisation. In Chapter 4, we saw that the Indo-European roots of language gave way to several branches of Germanic languages, which formed the primary source of what we now call English. However, the Anglo-Saxon language of 500 CE absorbed many influences in its progress to the English spoken today, some of which can be seen in Table 5.2.

Timeline of the history of English DATE

EVENT

450 CE

Germanic warrior tribes (Angles, Saxons, Jutes) invade Britain after departure of Roman troops.

597 CE

St Augustine brings Christianity to Britain – including Latin and Greek words.

7th and 8th

Laws, religious manuscripts, Beowulf and other literature are written in Old English.

centuries 793 CE

The Vikings invade – raiders from Scandinavia, Denmark.

878 CE

King Alfred the Great is victorious against the Danes. Danelaw divides Britain north/east – leads to development of northern and southern dialects. King Alfred undertakes a programme of translation of manuscripts from Latin to English.

1066 CE

The Normans invade – Norman French is used by the court but official documents are in Latin.

1348 CE

The Black Death arrives – Latin-speaking priests die.

1362 CE

English is used in official documents.

1380 CE

John Wycliffe translates the New Testament from Latin to English.

1385 CE

English is the language of instruction in schools – there are many dialects of English.

End of 14th

Geoffrey Chaucer writes The Canterbury Tales in London English (Oxford and Cambridge influence) –

century

Middle English

1453

Gutenberg press is invented – printing leads to standardisation of spelling and grammar.

1455

Gutenberg Bible is published.

1526

6,000 copies of the Tyndale Bible (translated from Hebrew and Greek) are printed in Europe.

17th century

The Renaissance – Latin and Greek vocabulary, spelling and grammar are all adopted.

1604

First English dictionary is published – Modern English.

1590–1616

Shakespeare writes his plays – more than 2,000 new words are introduced.

1640

More than 20,000 titles are published in Britain.

1650

Spelling is standardised.

Table 5.2

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How Cultural Change Affects Language The dynamic nature of language makes it adaptable to changes in the culture and worldview of its speakers. One important factor in the change of language use is the issue of political correctness. Many terms and expressions that were once commonly used are now deemed to be offensive or detrimental to the sense of identity of minority groups. Widespread access to the media has made people more aware of how the labels attached to certain behaviours and lifestyles can lead to stereotyping, which prevents certain groups from enjoying all the opportunities available in modern society. Here are some examples of politically correct terms related to: Racial or ethnic identity: •

African, African-American, black, people of colour

Asian, Asian-American

Native American

Latino, Hispanic

Physical challenges: •

visually impaired, hearing impaired, differently abled, physically challenged, special needs

Societal issues: •

senior citizen, plus size, single-parent household, partner, alternative lifestyle, gender reassignment, blended family, same-sex relationship

Gender is another important consideration in determining the labels that are attached to certain roles and occupations. There are some who argue for the use of gender-neutral terms such as chairperson rather than chairman and against the use of man/mankind as a generic term rather than humans. Many females in the film industry prefer the term actor to actress, and airline staff are now known as flight attendants instead of stewards, stewardesses or air hostesses. Perhaps the factor that has introduced most change into language in recent years is the explosion of developments in technology. The effect of technology on the structure of language will be examined in Chapter 6 in more detail but it is fair to say that innovations in computer technology and the Internet have helped English to become a global language and have allowed Western (mainly American) culture into many of the world’s civilisations.

Activity 4

98

1

List three other politically correct terms that you have encountered. Where did you hear/see them being used?

2

List four gender-neutral terms you have encountered. Where did you hear/see them being used?

3

What do these acronyms and abbreviations mean?

4

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HTTP

IM

VoIP

HTML

URL

GUI

Where did Google get its name?

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Chapter 5 The social nature of language

The Caribbean Context: History N

USA

0

200

400

600km

The Bahamas

Atlantic Ocean

Turks and Caicos Islands

G

Mexico

Cuba r

e

a

t

A

n

s s

Dominica Martinique

e r

Aruba

L e s s e r

s A n t i l l e

Barbados

The Grenadines Grenada Tobago Trinidad

Pacific Ocean

I s l a n d s

Caribbean Sea

l l e s A n t i

St Lucia St Vincent

n d w a r d W i

Dominican Republic

e

t i l l e s

l

L

Jamaica

I s

a Anguilla n Barbuda Antigua St Kitts US Nevis Guadeloupe Virgin Is Montserrat

s

Cayman Islands

r

Haiti

d

e

L e e w a r d

British Puerto Virgin Is Rico

South America

Figure 5.6 The Caribbean

European colonisation of the Caribbean region began in the late 15th century when the Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas (San Salvador) in 1492, thinking that he had reached the East Indies. The natives whom he met in the Greater Antilles – and mistakenly called Indians – were the Tainos, who were descendants of the Arawaks who had migrated from South America. Arawakan languages are still spoken today by the Amerindians in Guyana. Although the Caribs who inhabited the Lesser Antilles were more aggressive than the Tainos, whom they had driven out, they were no match for the superior weaponry of the Spanish colonisers and fell victim to diseases brought by the Europeans. Slavery and forced labour on the plantations resulted in the native populations being wiped out, except in those regions where the inhospitable terrain allowed them to exist in relative isolation. In spite of their reduced population, the culture of the native peoples affected the culture and lexicon of the Caribbean. Native traditions of food preparation, tobacco cultivation and basketweaving, as well as items of flora and fauna, were new to the Spanish, who adopted many Arawak and Carib words, which then passed into English. Some examples are: tobacco, cassava, guava, cashew, pawpaw, iguana, maize. In 1510, the Spanish began importing slaves from Africa into Hispaniola to replace the dwindling native population. The British first settled St Kitts in 1624, and from there they expanded their settlements to the Leeward Islands. With the settlement of Barbados in 1627, the British were able to expand their territory to the Windward Islands, Jamaica, Suriname and Guyana. The spread of

Did you know? Only about 2 per cent of the Caribbean’s numerous islands are inhabited.

English therefore followed the pattern of colonisation with St Kitts and Barbados as the focal points. Between 1630 and 1640, the Dutch seized Curaçao from the Spanish and established settlements in Saba, St Martin and St Eustatius. The French took possession of Martinique and Guadeloupe in 1635 and Saint Domingue (Haiti) in 1665.

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Development of English-based Creole The occupation of Barbados by the British was a significant event in the linguistic history of the West Indies for several reasons. Firstly, the island was never settled by any other European power before the British. Secondly, the great influx of Europeans meant that the proportion of whites to blacks was almost equal in 1660, so that the Africans were in close contact with speakers of different varieties of English. The introduction of sugar in 1650 and the change to the plantation system caused many small landowners and indentured servants to migrate to other territories, the landowners taking their slaves with them. By 1712, the slave population of Barbados was 41,970 compared to 12,528 whites. Many of the slaves were creoles who had, by this time, developed great competence in speaking English in spite of the variety of languages that had been brought by the first-generation slaves. St Kitts, between 1623 and 1712, was under constant British rule. However, the island was then partitioned, with the British occupying the middle and the French occupying each end. Nevertheless, St Kitts retained a mainly English influence in its language development. The British did not establish settlement in Jamaica until 1664. Great numbers of slaves had to be imported from Africa to manage the sugar plantations such that by 1723 the white population of about 8,000 was greatly outnumbered by a black population of about 74,000. Newly arrived slaves in Jamaica would have been introduced to forms of language that had evolved in Barbados (owing to these landowners and slaves migrating to Jamaica), but the continued importation of slaves meant that African languages would have also exerted significant influence on the linguistic development of the society. In Dominica and St Vincent, the indigenous peoples managed to maintain strongholds because of the rugged and inhospitable terrain; the British only succeeded in establishing control in 1763. In St Vincent, English was named as the official language in that year but the continued presence of the French led to the persistence of French Creole until the end of the 18th century. However, travel and trade between St Vincent, Barbados and St Kitts strengthened the dominance of English so that French Creole declined by the early 19th century. In Dominica, by 1791, there were only about 600 English speakers whereas the French landowners maintained dominance until the end of the 19th century. The rugged terrain meant that each community – French, English and Carib – could exist independently of each other. French Creole, most likely spoken by immigrants from the French islands, became a lingua franca and in fact remains so to this day. St Lucia and Grenada both changed hands several times between the British and the French, with the British finally gaining sovereignty in Grenada in 1783 and St Lucia in 1815. Grenada had been French territory alone up to 1763. The proximity of St Lucia to Dominica and the French-controlled islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe preserved French Creole as a first language in St Lucia in spite of efforts by British administrators to reduce its influence. The geographic location of Grenada, given its proximity to the South American mainland, added to its strategic importance to the British. Inspired by the French Revolution, many French Creole-speaking slaves revolted and were killed, whereas many of the French colonists migrated. English then began to assume more prominence. Tobago had been occupied briefly by the Spanish, the Dutch and the French and was finally settled

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in 1763, mainly by planters from Britain, Barbados and Grenada, who brought their slaves with

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Chapter 5 The social nature of language

them. The new inhabitants of Tobago would have been speaking varieties of English, English- and French-based creoles from the other islands and West African languages. Figure 5.7 shows the regions in Africa from which slaves were brought to the colonies. CANADA

New York

UNITED STATES

Lisbon

Atlantic Ocean

New Orleans NEW SPAIN Mexico City

Merida

Havana

BELIZE GUATEMALA

Tunis

Madeira

Fez

Algiers

CUBA Kingston

Taudeni

Port-au-Prince Santo Domingo Saint-Louis Dakar Fort James

JAMAICA

Monrovia

Accra

ETHIOPIA

Lagos

GOLD IVORY COAST COAST

Recife

Lake Victoria CONGO

Lake Tanganyika

Luanda

Salvador

Pacific Ocean

DESERT

Agadez

Libreville

BRAZIL

Cairo EGYPT

SAHARA

Timbuktu

Freetown

Caracas BRITISH Paramariba GUIANA FRENCH GUIANA

Mediterranian Sea

Tripoli

Canary Is MOROCCO

Benguela

ANGOLA

Mogadishu Mombasa Zanzibar Kilwa

Lake Nyasa Mozambique Tete

Sofala

Rio de Janeiro San Paulo

Kalahari Desert

Atlantic Ocean

Montevideo

Cape of Good Hope

Buenos Aires

MADAGASCAR

Indian Ocean

N

0

1000

1000 km

Figure 5.7 The African Slave Trade from 1450 to 1808

Trinidad had been settled only sparsely by the Spanish since 1498 but the native population and its language had virtually disappeared except for place names and names of flora and fauna. The Cedula of Population, introduced in 1783, allowed Roman Catholic refugees from France, Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Grenada to resettle after the upheavals of the French and Haitian Revolutions. French Creole thus emerged as the lingua franca of Trinidad with English spoken by only 21 per cent of the free population and presumably a much smaller number of the slaves, in spite of the island being British since 1797. There was a significant proportion of Spanish speakers but French was the language of business and government. Between 1810 and 1820, about 4,000 immigrants from the South American mainland arrived. Many of these immigrants had migrated there from French and English islands, and some were Spanishspeaking peasants (peons), descendants of Africans, Spaniards and Amerindians who chose to live in the northern foothills where they planted cocoa (coco panyols). Their retention of Spanish culture and language survives to the present day. In the early 19th century, increasing numbers of migrants from Britain, the USA and Barbados arrived. English was named as the official language in 1823 but the spoken language of Trinidad reflected the multitude of influences that had created it. The British took possession of Guyana (Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice) in 1815, but the population was sparse and grew slowly through migration from Barbados and other Englishspeaking islands. The Amerindians, however, continued to occupy the forested interior and therefore maintained their languages. Guyanese Creole, therefore, is heavily influenced by Barbadian English with several Dutch lexical items added to its word stock.

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VENEZUELA Atlantic Ocean

GUYANESE CREOLE ENGLISH Georgetown GUYANESE CREOLE ENGLISH

SRANAN

Paramaribo SARAMACCAN

AUKAN FRENCH GUIANESE CREOLE FRENCH Cayenne

BERBICE CREOLE DUTCH

KWINTI

FRENCH GUIANA AUKAN

GUYANA

SURINAME

KARIPUNA CREOLE FRENCH

Figure 5.8 Creoles in Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana

Figure 5.8 shows the regions where the creoles of Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana are spoken.

Maroon languages British occupation of Suriname (1651) was brief as the Dutch took possession in 1667. Nevertheless, English strongly influenced the formation of the creole languages of Suriname: Saramaccan, Sranan and Ndyuka. Saramaccan evolved as the language of slaves (mostly Africanborn) who escaped from the plantations to form Maroon communities. Their language reflects a high level of African as well as Portuguese lexicon. Ndyuka is also a Maroon language whereas Sranan is the lingua franca of Suriname. Jamaican Maroons originally spoke Kromanti, the language of the slaves who founded the Maroon societies in the 17th and 18th centuries. That language is no longer used today except in ritual religious observances. Otherwise, Jamaican Maroons speak Jamaican Creole in their everyday lives.

French Creole, Papiamentu, Garifuna The French adopted a policy of assimilation in the territories that they controlled. This aimed to ensure that the language of the slaves would be eradicated in order to reduce the possibility of rebellion among groups sharing a native language. It also attempted to isolate the colonies from their English- or Spanish-speaking neighbours so as to elevate the status of the language and culture of the ‘mother country’. Although the French Creoles of Martinique and Guadeloupe have mutual intelligibility with those of St Lucia and Dominica and share a common grammatical structure with English-based creoles, they exist in conflict with the standard French of metropolitan France. The language situation in Haiti differs somewhat from Lesser Antillean French Creole because of the political implications involved. The ideology of the Haitian Revolution (1791) attempted to sever all cultural and linguistic ties with France and to use language as a tool of national unity. The migration

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of the surviving whites and many mulattoes left behind a few hundred thousand ex-slaves, more

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Chapter 5 The social nature of language

than half of whom had arrived from Africa in 1770. The evolution of Haitian Creole then, reflects a concerted movement away from a linguistic relationship with the standards of French. Having seized Curaรงao, Bonaire and Aruba from the Spanish in 1634, the Dutch communicated with the few remaining Spanish-speaking natives in Spanish rather than Dutch. The birth of Papiamentu probably began with the Afro-Portuguese pidgin spoken in the slave camps of West Africa and on the slave ships. Proximity to South America, in particular Venezuela, brought many Spanish words into the lexicon. Dutch-speaking whites and Portuguese-speaking Jews, who had emigrated from Brazil, learned Papiamentu from the slaves in order to communicate with them, and their children learned the language from their African nannies. Around the middle of the 17th century, slave ships, carrying mostly children abducted in Africa, ran aground off the island of St Vincent. The survivors found refuge with the native Arawaks and Caribs who still enjoyed relative autonomy on the island. The newly arrived slave children added their languages as well as the European words that they had learned from the slave traders to create the Garifuna language. The Garifunas were captured and deported to Jamaica. However, many of them died aboard ship and the survivors were abandoned off Honduras. Garifuna settlements spread along the coast of Honduras, into Guatemala, Nicaragua and Belize. The word stock of the language is about 60 per cent Arawakan-Carib, the remainder being French, English and Spanish.

Emancipation and indentureship The abolition of the slave trade by the British in 1807, the Dutch in 1814, the French in 1818 and the Spanish in 1820 created an urgent need for sources of labour to service the sugar and cotton plantations. This need was met by illegal slave trading up to the 1830s and then by immigration and indentureship after Emancipation. The first source of labour for the British was freed slaves who had been settled in Sierra Leone as well as those liberated from Spanish slave ships. Subsequently, indentured labourers were brought from Madeira, China and India. East Indian immigration, begun in 1845, brought almost half a million immigrants from Bihar, Madras and the United Provinces to Trinidad and Guyana. Most of these immigrants spoke dialects of Bhojpuri, while some used Tamil (Madras), Bengali and other regional languages. For the Indians in Trinidad, Bhojpuri became the lingua franca among themselves on the plantations but the target language in most cases was French Creole (called Patois) because most of the landowners were French Creoles. These immigrants did not contribute much to the grammatical structure of the creoles that they met in the colonies as, by this time, the language was already well established, but many lexical items were added to it. With Emancipation, the former slaves had access to education and, by 1909, school enrolment had reached about 25,000 in Trinidad, 7,000 in St Lucia and 98,000 in Jamaica. The purpose of teaching the slaves to read was so that they could be instructed in Christian doctrine. In the British colonies, most of the teachers were either missionaries or at least immigrants from England or North America and the curriculum and medium of instruction were based on English standards. Whereas the Roman Catholic Church recognised the importance of using the creole to teach its catechism in the French colonies, and Dutch missionaries used Sranan and Saramaccan in Suriname, the British held to the superiority of English for all instruction. Nevertheless, many teachers had difficulty in making themselves understood by students who were only familiar with some form of creole.

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As education became the means of gaining access to the professions and achieving social mobility, the free coloureds aspired to emulate the upper classes and also believed in the superiority of British education. As standard English was the accepted medium and goal of education, Englishlexicon creole was relegated to the status of a ‘broken’ form of speech to be eradicated by education. The fact that it was the first language of almost two million speakers (early 1930s) and served as the primary form of communication for most aspects of daily life was disregarded. Children entering school were expected to discard their first language and learn to speak ‘properly’ and creole was seen to be appropriate only for scandal, humour and the uneducated. The pressure to switch codes to meet socially accepted norms therefore became, and remained, strong even when the speaker had not developed competence in the prescribed structures of standard English.

Creole in Contemporary Caribbean Society Gulf of Mexico

BAHAMAS

BAHAMAS CREOLE ENGLISH Nassau

Atlantic Ocean Havana

TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

TURKS AND CAICOS CREOLE ENGLISH CUBA

Grand Turk

CAYMAN ISLANDS

CAYMAN ISLANDS SEMI-CREOLE ENGLISH

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

SAMANÁ SEMI-CREOLE ENGLISH George Town

HAITIAN CREOLE FRENCH JAMAICAN PATWA CROLE ENGLISH

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS CREOLE ENGLISH ANGUILLA

HAITI

JAMAICA Port-au-Prince

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

PUERTO RICO San Juan

Santo Domingo

GUADELOUPE

Road Town

VIRGIN ISLANDS

Kingston

ANGUILLAN CREOLE ENGLISH

Charlotte Amalie

See inset

BARBUDA CREOLE ENGLISH

US VIRGIN ISLANDS CREOLE ENGLISH ST. MARTIN ST. MAARTEN PAPIAMENTU

ST. MARTIN CREOLE FRENCH ST. BARTS PATOIS FRENCH ST. BARTS CREOLE FRENCH

NETHERLANDS ANTILLES

ST. KITTS AND NEVIS

ANTIGUAN CREOLE ENGLISH

Plymouth

GUADELOUPE

GUADELOUPEAN CREOLE FRENCH

ST. KITTS CREOLE ENGLISH MONTSERRAT

MONTSERRAT CREOLE ENGLISH

ST. BARTHÉLEMY ST. BARTS CREOLE ENGLISH

Caribbean Sea

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

St. John’s

Basseterre

MARIE GALANTE CREOLE FRENCH

Basse-Terre

KOKOY CREOLE ENGLISH

DOMINICA

DOMINICAN CREOLE FRENCH

Roseau

MARTINIQUE

ST. MAARTEN CREOLE ENGLISH

Castries

Saba

ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

Kingstown

ARUBA

ST. LUCIA

ST. LUCIAN CREOLE FRENCH St. Eustatius

Oranjestad

MARTINIQUE CREOLE FRENCH

Fort-de-France

NETHERLANDS ANTILLES

Bridgetown

VINCENTIAN CREOLE ENGLISH GRENADA

GRENADA CREOLE ENGLISH

BARBADOS

BAJAN CREOLE ENGLISH GRENADA CREOLE FRENCH

St. George’s

Willemstad

PAPIAMENTU

TRINIDADIAN CREOLE FRENCH

TOBAGONIAN CREOLE ENGLISH TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO Port of Spain

Caracas

VENEZUELA

TRINIDADIAN CREOLE ENGLISH

Figure 5.9 Creoles spoken in the Caribbean

Figure 5.9 shows some of the creoles spoken in the Caribbean. Recognition of the status of creole languages in the Caribbean has varied depending on social and political considerations. Recent recognition has led to the development of creole writing systems. Religious missionaries in the French and Dutch colonies were among the first to develop dictionaries and publish material in creole. In Haiti, there have been several versions of written creole and Haitian French Creole (Kréyol) is recognised as a national language in the constitution. Written Sranan has been stable and recognised for several years and Papiamentu versions of the Bible and other religious material were published in the 19th century.

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Dominica and St Lucia have writing systems and dictionaries published in Kwéyòl. The French Caribbean departments of Martinique and Guadeloupe provide for the use of creole as the medium of instruction in certain aspects of the curriculum and Papiamentu is now both taught and examined in the Netherlands Antilles. Recognition of the status of creole in the English-speaking territories has been bolstered by publication of dictionaries of Jamaican, Bahamian and Trinidadian Creole as well as the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Towards the mid-19th century, newspapers and other material began to be printed locally. Although standard English was the main language of the newspapers, there were often items, sometimes

Dutch 1%

written anonymously, using creole expressions to give local colour. Another important factor contributing to the appearance of published literary material was the growing number of intellectuals from the region who undertook to portray life in the West Indies using creole dialogue. Thus,

English 16%

the birth of the West Indian novel created opportunities for the voices of its people to be heard. Opportunities for further education increased with the establishment of campuses of the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados in the early 1960s. For the first time, a West Indian education could be seen to have value and the academic environment allowed linguists and

Spanish 61%

French 22%

researchers to develop theories that contributed to bringing more value to the languages of the region. Spanish

Political autonomy and internal self-government, achieved in the 1960s for the former British

Dutch

territories, added another dimension to the move to validate the languages and culture of the

English

territories. Caribbean people could now begin to establish their own standards with respect to

French

education in their societies and make choices that reflected their own cultures and development. Opportunities for expression in creole have increased in contemporary Caribbean society, even

Figure 5.10 Distribution of official Caribbean languages

as globalisation is strengthening the power of the media to affect cultures worldwide. Radio and television stations broadcasting in local languages are competing for attention with mainly American offerings of black urban music, slang and fashion. However, although linguists and educators in the Caribbean may bemoan the impact of the media on the language and expression of young people in the region, global English is having an undeniable impact on all cultures and languages. In the Caribbean today, there are about 22 million Spanish speakers, 8 million French and French Creole speakers, 6 million whose official language is English but whose first language is more likely an English- or French-based creole, and half a million in the Dutch territories who speak Papiamentu or another creole in their daily lives. Figure 5.10 shows how this is represented as a percentage. Table 5.3 shows the variety of languages spoken in the Caribbean. Throughout the region, therefore, monolingualism in a standard language is the exception rather than the rule and the ability to modify one’s dialect is dependent on the level of education attained as well as the extent to which the standard is held to be an indicator of class superiority

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Languages of the Caribbean COUNTRY

OFFICIAL

CREOLE

OTHER LANGUAGES

LANGUAGE Anguilla

English

English-based creole

Antigua and Barbuda

English

English-based creole

Aruba

Dutch

Papiamentu

Bahamas

English

English-based creole

Barbados

English

None

Belize

English

English-based creole, Garifuna

Bermuda

English

None

Bonaire

Dutch

Papiamentu

British Virgin Islands

English

English-based creole

Cuba

Spanish

None

Curaçao

Dutch

Papiamentu

Dominica

English

Kwéyol, English-based creole

Dominican Republic

Spanish

Grenada

English

English-based creole

Guadeloupe

French

Kréol

Haiti

French, Kréyol

Jamaica

English

Patwa

Martinique

French

Kréol

Montserrat

English

English-based creole

Puerto Rico

Spanish

St Kitts, Nevis

English

English-based creole

St Lucia

English

Kwéyol, English-based creole

St Maarten

Dutch, French

St Vincent, the Grenadines

English

English-based creole

Trinidad and Tobago

English

English-based creole, Patois

Spanish, English

Mayan, Spanish

Spanish, English

Spanish, English

English

Papiamentu, English

Bhojppuri, Hindustani, Spanish

Guyana Suriname

English Dutch

English-based creole, Berbice

Bhojpuri, Arawaccan,

Dutch Creole

Cariban, Warruan

Saramaccan, Ndjuka, Sranan

Bhojpuri, Urdu, Javanese

Table 5.3

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Chapter 5 The social nature of language

Language Variation in the Caribbean The relative isolation of the Caribbean territories during the colonial and post-colonial periods was the result partly of geographical distance, not only between islands but between plantations, as well as political and linguistic factors. Each territory developed its own variety of language depending on the European powers that controlled it at various times, as well as the sources from which slave and indentured labour came. Plantation society was structured on a rigid pyramid hierarchy and speakers at each level of the plantation system used the style of language in which they could communicate most effectively. This meant that, depending on the person or group they were addressing and their social status, speakers would modify their choice of language. Newly arrived Africans were motivated to acquire the creole in order to communicate with fellow slaves, while house slaves, given their daily contact with Europeans, had more opportunities to learn the standard language. After emancipation, access to education and the possibility of upward social mobility strengthened the tendency to modify one’s language code depending on the social setting and to achieve overt prestige. To a large extent, where economies are dependent on North American and European tourism, overt prestige is still a strong consideration.

Nation language It can now be said that the term ‘nation language’ should be used to identify the vernacular of a people and acknowledge its importance in the context of the history, character and culture of each nation. Guyanese creoles, for example, reflect the influence of the Dutch, the British, immigrants from Barbados and indentured Indians. In addition, the presence of the Amerindians – who continue to occupy the interior and who have preserved their languages – gives great significance to Guyana as the home of the largest group of the first peoples of the region. Trinidad’s multifarious influences of Spanish, French, Indic and African languages, as well as other island dialects, gives its language a unique flavour, and the creole of Grenada bears witness in its pronunciation and lexicon to its French influence, as well as its former administrative links with Tobago and St Vincent. The survival of the French heritage of St Lucia and Dominica creates linguistic links not only with Martinique, Guadeloupe and Haiti, but also with Trinidad and Grenada. Jamaica’s history also offers an interesting perspective on its language. Most of the black population in the late 19th century were first generation Africans, and had little access to education. Increased travel between Jamaica and the metropolitan countries in search of employment continued until after the Second World War. Eventually, education and exposure to other cultures contributed to a fierce sense of independence and pride in their cultural identity. The work of artists like Louise Bennett and Bob Marley helped to promote the language of Jamaica and to popularise Jamaican culture and music. At the same time, Jamaica’s dependence on tourism as a mainstay of its economy meant that workers in the industry had to be adept at switching codes to suit the context of their communication. For each nation, therefore, its language is not only the voice of its people, but a chronicle of its history and a source of its identity.

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Activity 5

1

Choose any two language territories and compare the influences that led to the differences in their creoles.

2

What are the social and linguistic factors that affected language development in your territory?

3

Explain the term ‘mutually intelligible’ using the information that you have read above.

Noh Lickle Twang Me glad fe se’s you come back bwoy, But lawd yuh let me dung, Me shame o’ yuh soh till all o’ Me proudness drop a grung. Yuh mean yuh goh dah ’Merica An spen six whole mont’ deh, An come back not a piece betta Dan how yuh did goh wey? Bwoy yuh noh shame? Is soh you come? Afta yuh tan soh lang! Not even lickle language bwoy? Not even little twang? Bwoy yuh couldn’ improve yuhself!

An yuh get soh much pay? Yuh spen six mont’ a foreign, an Come back ugly same way? Noh back-ansa me bwoy, yuh talk Too bad; shet up yuh mout, Ah doan know how yuh an yuh puppa Gwine to meck it out. Ef yuh want please him meck him tink Yuh bring back someting new. Yuh always call him “Pa“ dis evenin’ Wen him come sey ‘Poo’. Louise Bennett

Trini Talk: A dialect poem Trinidadians are a special people of dat there is no doubt, Doh care what odders say or how dey run dey mouth. But of all de special talents dat we Trinis possess, Is de way we talk dat ranks us among de best. At de street corners, in de shop or at work on any given day, Is to hear us speak and carry on in our own special way. De colourful words, de antics and de accent all combine, To create a whole language dat has stood de test of time. Look at de many words dat we Trinis create, Just to make it easier for us to communicate. Words like bobbol, skylark, commess and bobolee, Are words dat yuh cah find in any English Dictionary. Coskel, boobooloops, lahay and dingolay, Mou Mou, bazodie, jagabat and tootoolbay. Is our colourful history, yes our glorious past, Dat give us a language dat very few could surpass, So many Trinis doh speak patois again. But we use words like doux doux and lagniappe all de same. So mauvais langue is when yuh bad talk people yuh doh even know. And a lighted torch we still call a flambeau. And East Indian words yuh could guess so easy. Like doolahin, beta, bap and dhoti. And we love dalporee, bodi and khurma, Baigan, barra, sahina and kuchela.

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Chapter 5 The social nature of language

Activity 5

continued

Listen to de sweet talk of a true Trini male, Dat could win de heart of any Trini female. And every spectator does turn a coach at a cricket or football match. Shouting out advice for bad play or dropping a catch. Man we know how to talk before we could creep. We could out talk all odders in one clean sweep. A Trini who cah talk will laugh instead. And if he cah do dat, he better off dead. Miguel Browne

4

Summarise what the writer of each poem is expressing about how language is used in the Caribbean.

Attitudes to Language Earlier in this chapter, we examined the role of language in the contexts of history, education, social relations and gender. Language choice often involves more than linguistic considerations and in fact is related to notions of identity, power (or lack of it) and social cohesion. Discussions about language often focus on how people feel about their culture, identity and development.

Attitudes to language in the English-speaking Caribbean First-time visitors to the English-speaking Caribbean often assume that all territories in the region share an identical culture and identity. However, the distinctions that exist between territories, given the political and economic competition of the colonial era and the varying cultural legacies, are reflected not only in differing speech forms but also in notions of superiority among the territories. Attitudes to language in the region, therefore, vary widely from a sense of respect for ‘Queen’s English’ to making fun of the ‘small island’ status of certain territories. The term ‘small island’ refers not so much to size as to comparative economic development and political independence; for example, Jamaicans may consider all the other territories, including Guyana, to be ‘small islands’, but in Trinidad the term is applied to those territories from which most immigrants have come: Grenada, Barbados and the Windwards and Leewards. The ‘small island’ stigma is perhaps best communicated in some Trinidadian calypsos of the 1950s such as ‘Take yuh meat out mih rice’ (Lord Kitchener), ‘Bajan Smartman’ (The Mighty Sparrow) and ‘Grenadians in Trinidad’ (Lord Blakie). In these songs, the calypsonians’ mimicry of Barbadian and Grenadian accents demonstrates the popular response to immigrants into Trinidad in the 1940s and 1950s and reflects the superiority that Trinidadians felt not only about their nation’s status but about their language. In spite of the mutual intelligibility that exists between the English-based creoles of the territories, there are certain identifiable characteristics of the speech of each territory. The territories of which the speech is most easily identified are Jamaica and Barbados. In the case of Barbados, it is pronunciation that is distinctive, whereas Jamaican Patwa is recognisable for its pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. Interestingly, in contemporary society, while ignorance of Jamaican basilect (the form of creole that is furthest from standard English) may contribute to prejudice against it in some quarters, the global influence of Jamaican music and culture is ensuring that many slang terms used in the Caribbean, as elsewhere, are of Jamaican origin.

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Send them back Move leh mih geh mih share, dey beatin Grenadians dong in the square. Ah mus give a lash, leh mih geh mih share, man, dey lickin Grenadian in Woodford Square. Since dey hear we have Federation, all ah dem pack up here in de island Immigration have dem under a tes, even police beatin dem wen arres If yuh see how dey holin de scamp and dem, boy yuh bong to bawl. Some ah dem could read an spell but dey cyah pronounce at all. De police tellin dem: “Say ‘pig’ you stupid man.” An as dey say ‘hag’, licks in de police van. Lord Blakie

In those countries where tourism is a major contributor to economic development, there is more pressure to attempt not only to communicate in standard English but also to adopt a foreign accent when interacting with tourists. The stereotype of returning residents who have adopted an American or British accent and idiom (even after a very brief trip abroad) is another popular source of humour and even derision. Even so, for the Caribbean speaker there are conflicting attitudes to the ‘mother tongue’. This ambiguity is well expressed in Louise Bennett’s ‘No Lickle Twang’ that we saw earlier in this chapter. Erudite English: English that attempts to impress the hearer/reader by the use of complex words and expressions. It is not necessarily standard English.

Caribbean English Roberts (1988) identifies several types of English spoken in the Caribbean. Among them are foreign English, radio and television English and erudite English. Use of these types of English is perceived as reflecting high social and educational status. Vernacular English is seen as appropriate for local cultural activities, or in the realm of politics for scandal and innuendo. One significant factor of language choice in the region is the attempt, by persons exposed to a very basic level of education, to emulate the language of the upper classes by using ‘erudite English’ in formal communication. Erudite English is used to give the impression of being highly educated even when the speaker is not skilled in using standard English. In colonial times, great value was placed on a classical education, so the ability to use Greek- and Latin-influenced expressions was regarded as the hallmark of intellectual achievement. This gave rise to the speechmaking tradition of plantation society and contributed largely to the traditional tea meetings of Barbados as well as the ‘robber talk’ of Trinidad Carnival. Up to the present time, the language of formal speech and writing in the region often reflects the tendency to use stilted language, complex vocabulary and sentence structure in order to create an impression of sophistication. Many serious traditional calypsos are examples of this.

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Chapter 5 The social nature of language

Which of the three types of English identified by Roberts would you say is used in the following extract?

Activity 6

My so dearest Irma, Every day my heart get more heavier by the minute and second. If only I had the money Irma, I would migrate to you tonight before you fall in some rich white man trap, but I is scraping to make ends combine. It look like nobody want a honest carpenter no more. More and more I is thinking of the preachering venture. Alphonso too think it is a worthwhile experience and I agree wholeheartedly with him. His drinking is almost nil now and it is only the gambling which is a sore point. I tried to endeavour to talk him out of it Irma, but he contradict me by saying that every man is entitled to one vice. And Irma I cannot lie to you, because you always had the gift. Is true. I did factually loan him a very small sum one evening for his lotto habit. He promised sincerely to repay me at the month-end and I shall hold him true to his word. Please write soon dear and don’t let present difficulties cause you to lose faith in your lonely Paul and in the lord. Your aching Paul Adapted from ‘The Diary of a Down-courage Domestic’ in The Book of Ifs and Buts Vintage Tales by Rabindranath Maharaj

What is ‘good’ language? Why don’t our people learn to speak the Queen’s English, which we were taught in school, when it is necessary? Students should be told, to be understood, they should speak proper English when dealing with the rest of the world. Every day I shake my head at the poor level of communication in this country. We all watch cable. Why can’t we learn to speak properly? ‘Onlyest’ is not a word. From ‘Today’s Big Question’ in Trinidad Express, 14 October 2009

You know, sometimes I really don’t understand how we think in this country. Here we have a situation where most of our kids can’t pass English exams and generally are as comfortable with the language as you would be in a closed room full of snakes, and we are talking about a Patois Bible. And here I am reading that a media house, come next week, is going to be broadcasting a portion of the news in Patois. It’s like collectively we have fallen and hit our heads very hard. Jamaica Star, 27 June 2008

These comments on the use of patois/creole in public communication reflect the opinions of many Caribbean people about what constitutes ‘good’ language use. The human nature of language allows us to make choices that are very often determined by sociological and political considerations. While the history of the Caribbean illustrates how language can be used to reinforce military and economic power, it also demonstrates the power of language to survive because of its roots in the culture of a people.

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Culture and Identity Unification

A language can be used to unify people, as in the case of many post-colonial countries where the European language was the only common form of communication for linguistically diverse groups. In Mozambique, for example, there are twenty-three native languages but the official language is Portuguese. The language that people choose to speak also reflects their pride in cultural and political identity. Haiti, for example, has French and French Creole as official languages and in fact most Haitians speak only French Creole.

Marginalisation Language choice can also lead to division and marginalisation. Separatist movements in Canada (Quebec) and Spain (Basque region) are examples of attempts to resist linguistic and cultural imperialism through maintaining the traditional languages and culture of those regions. The report from the Inspector of schools for Trinidad from 1859 demonstrates that educators thought that children of the lower classes were incapable of learning English:

Many children are sent to the Ward Schools at a yet tender age, understanding no language except the common patois French. The minds of these little creatures are not apt at learning... The first thing the master has to do is to teach it to understand and speak the English language, a task of no little difficulty in itself and requiring patience and industry for a long time. in A Century of West Indian Education by S.C. Gordon

Language strength The use of a standard language in education has not always been successful in replacing the native language of children exposed to a non-standard language from birth. In St Lucia and Dominica, for example, French Creole is the traditional lingua franca, which has survived because of regular travel and trade with Martinique and Guadeloupe. The fact that standard English is the official language and the language of instruction has contributed to the existence of a parallel English Creole rather than eliminating the native language.

International Communication Many creoles do not yet have a standardised writing system and this hinders the recognition of creole as a valid language. While writing is not a defining characteristic of language, it contributes to its stability and uniformity. Publication of dictionaries along with translations of standard texts into creole gives credibility to non-standard languages and enables their use in education and international communication. Some examples of this are:

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Dictionary of Bahamian English

Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago

Dominica’s Diksyonnè

Patois Bible (Jamaica)

A Dictionary of Common Trinidad Hindi

Dictionary of St Lucian Creole

Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage

Dictionary of Jamaican English

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Chapter 5 The social nature of language

Discussion points: 1

‘Why we have to learn standard English? I fin we could write all we exams in we own language. Me eh no Englishman.’ What arguments about language would you use to respond to this statement?

2

‘Since my cousin spen tree weeks in New York she feel she better dan me. Ah cyah understand wat she sayin at all.’ What attitudes to language are evident in this statement?

Language can be used for several purposes: communicative, expressive, directive, phatic,

Activity 7

Summary

identifying and ritual. •

Many factors in the environment contribute to language variation: social pressures, developments in technology, geographical location, political and economic status.

Language variation creates dialects that are mutually intelligible to speakers of the varieties but a dialect’s prestige is determined by the economic and political power of its speakers.

There are six registers of language: frozen, formal, consultative, casual/informal, intimate and private. Registers vary in accordance with the level of formality and purpose of the communication.

Speakers use code-switching/style-shifting to match the social context of the communication. They may modify register, word choice and grammatical construction.

The language situation in the Caribbean is the result of a highly stratified plantation society as well as severe social and geographical isolation of its subgroups.

End-of-chapter questions 1

A visitor to the Caribbean is fascinated by the varieties of creoles that he has encountered in the territories. What three reasons can you give to explain language variation in the region?

2

In a letter to the editor for a newspaper, the writer is arguing against the use of creole in the classroom. Reply to the letter giving two advantages of using each of the following in education: a) creole

3

b) standard languages.

Your friend wants to write an article on drug abuse among teenagers to be published in the youth supplement of a Sunday newspaper. What advice can you give her about the appropriate code, register and language variety that she should use?

4

Does the publication of a dictionary contribute to language development? Give two reasons to justify your answer.

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CAPE®Communication Studies

Develop your communication skills, confident in the knowledge that all syllabus requirements are being met with this unique book and accompanying website package: The organisation of the content allows students to move from the known to the unknown, facilitating a progressive approach to learning and ensuring key topics are built upon in each chapter. ●

A dedicated assessment section assists with both the Internal Assessment portfolio and exam preparation, providing invaluable and practical support for both students and teachers alike.

“Any student who is preparing for the CAPE Communication Studies exam will find this text an asset. I can confidently say that if students follow the guidance given in this book, they will be successful.” Winifred Ellis, Vice Principal of Saint Joseph High School, Guyana, and member of the subject panel for Communication Studies.

s e i d u t S n o i t a c i n u m m o C CAPE Lelia Lord is an experienced teacher of 35 years. She has taught Communication Studies at Harrison College in Barbados for nine years and has experience as an assistant examiner in the subject. Maureen Dee-Hosein teaches Communication Studies at Presentation College in Trinidad. Elizabeth Habib is an experienced educator with 28 years of teaching practice. She currently teaches Communication Studies at Fatima College, Trinidad. Sonia Lee is a master teacher of Communication Studies at Immaculate Conception High School in Jamaica.

Lelia Lord Maureen Dee-Hosein Elizabeth Habib Sonia Lee

Exclusive online content is delivered in an engaging and interactive way to enable accessible revision of topics and to bring variety to learning with videos and quizzes. ●

WITH COMPANION WEBSITE

s e i d u t S n o i t a c i n u m ® m o CAPE C ● S onia Le ib b a H th e b a z li E ee-Hosein ● Maureen D rd o L Lelia

e

www.pearsoncaribbean.com

CAPE is a registered trademark of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). CAPE® Communication Studies is an independent publication and has not been authorised, sponsored, or otherwise approved by CXC.

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CAPE Communication Studies sample  

CAPE Communication Studies sample chapter

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