by Barry Pennock-Speck - ict4u2learn

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Jamaican English


By far the most different of all the varieties of English –although some might say it is a language in its own right. Even native speakers of English who have heard many different varieties of this language will have trouble understanding Jamaican Patois or Patwa, as it is sometimes called.

English has been present in Jamaica since 1655 when it was captured from the Spanish. The majority of the population nowadays is of African descent due to the slave trade. The second largest part of the population is multiracial. Although English is the official language of Jamaica, the majority of the population speak Jamaican Patois. This is a creole language (See the lesson on creole on this web site) made up of an English superstrate and African substrate.

The recordings are of two young Jamaican girls living in London. The transcription was carried out by the speakers themselves. I have modified it a little. You will notice when you look at the examples that many of the words are respellings of Standard English words to imitate the pronunciation: love/luv; corn/kaan; follow/fallah/.


Map of Jamaica


Kingston, Jamaica