Don’t Judge me

21 Apr

So let me introduce myself.  My name is…. Hmm do I want or need stalkers? Ahhh no!  Let me start over. Let me introduce my topic today. The topic is “Language skills as they relate to Jamaica”. As my friend and fellow blogger @chineyphat agreed, this topic may be a little controversial.  Guess what, mi nuh care!

I have become so very frustrated with my fellow Jamaicans.  Where has our zeal for language gone?  As I alluded to in a previous post, patois is everywhere. It is my distinct view that patios is for the play field, taking amongst friends etc.  Basically it’s for casual conversation only. When in a formal situation patois should not be used.  Now that I have said that, I will say this, there are a few exceptions.  For example an interjection of patois for effect.  When I was growing up and went to the doctor, he did not speak patois. Neither did his nurse.  Nor did the banker, engineer or dentist.  In fact if you were a professional, you did not speak patois whilst carrying out those duties.

Now let me tell you a little about prejudice.  It comes in many, many forms.  I recently read a book called freakonomics. (Yes a book with pages that was made out of paper) One of the chapters focused on the fact that in America a persons name can cause a prejudice. Briefly, the experiment went like this; the exact same resume was posted to a website the only difference being the names associated with said resume. One was Tyrone and the other was Greg.  Low and behold the resume with Tyrone on it got 33% less calls back than Greg.  So I say that to say this; in Jamaica it’s sad to say but I have developed what I call patois prejudice. When I call customer service or go to the bank mi nuh wah hear nuh rahtid patois! Cho!  Once when I was listening to Wilmot “mutty” Perkins he said that teaching patois in school is rubbish.  I tend to agree.  He said that Jamaican Patois however colourful, does not have the quantum of words nor the structure to be anymore useful than for casual conversation.  The example he cited is Pythagoras theorem.  How does one teach this theory using our Jamaican patios, its impossible.

Now don’t get me wrong I love our local “dialect”. It’s colourful, expressive and ever growing.  It certainly has a distinct place in our culture, big up Miss Lou!  So much so that I searched high and low to find Anancy bedtime story books to read to my kids at night.  I hope you will not hold my prejudice against me. I closing I will say this I love me some Miss Lou.


Posted by on April 21, 2011 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “Don’t Judge me

  1. battymatilda

    April 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I absolutely agree. When I was growing up it was made quite clear to me by my father – exams were sat in English not patois . But then again when I was going to school the teachers who taught me spoke English, imagine that.

  2. Aurie

    April 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    no judgement here! there is a time and place for everything and unfortunately, Patois should not have a seat at the “formal speaking/corporate boardroom/professional life” table. By no means is this a knock on our beautiful dialect, but just like how there are certain countries that hold that the language of business is English and they don’t even have English as the native tongue, there shouldn’t as much consternation about the fact that you say that Patois should be removed from the professional setting.

    • JamaicanZ

      April 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm

      whats the statement? “not in my cabinet!” no patois round ere!

  3. nyree

    April 21, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Have to say I fully agree with you. The longer we let it “slide” it is the worse it will become, and inch closer toward becoming the “norm” ((oh the horror)).

    Funny enough it is easy to slip into, this after I sent a formal email using bbm/twitter abbreviations ((mortifying)). I realised it in my own speech patterns one day, and have made a conscious and deliberate effort not to do so. I also require and correct those who are my direct reports. ((I work in customer service)).


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