This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Jamaican Patois And The Power Of Language In Reggae Music

4923 words - 20 pages

Jamaican Patois and the Power of Language in Reggae Music


Creole languages are found all over the world on every continent. When two or more languages come into contact to form a new language a Creole language is born. Some type of human "upheaval" that forces people to find a way to communicate, without using their own languages, stimulates the creation of a Creole language. In the case of Creole languages in the Caribbean, the "upheaval" is the past history of slavery. Most Creole languages are based on one language. In Jamaica the African slaves were thrown into a situation where the only common means of communication was English, or at least broken English, therefor Jamaican Creole has a majority of its roots in English (Sebba 1, 1996). Essential words which people could not find an English name for, such as people, things (like plants and animals) and activities (especially religious ones) were taken from a variety of West African languages.

As a result of patois not being an official language, a name for the Jamaican dialect has not been settled to this day. Common names such as Jamaican, Jamaican Creole, Jamaican patwa or patois, Black English, broken English and even baby talk or slang are all used to describe Creole languages. In L. Emilie Adams’ book, Understanding Jamaican Patois, she states that none of these labels are appropriate for the Jamaican dialect. Creole refers to a mixed African/European language as well as Europeans born in the West Indies; therefore it is inappropriate to refer to the language of Africans in Jamaica as Creole. Patois is a term used widely in Jamaica, but patois can refer to any language considered broken or degraded in the world. Pryce (1997) prefers to use the term Jamaican "because it moves toward settling the issue of the status of the language as the legitimate expression of the ethos of the people." Throughout this paper the terms Jamaican Creole or patois, the most popular terms used by linguists and Jamaicans will be used to describe the Jamaican dialect.

Language in Jamaica today reflects the history of the country’s interaction with a variety of cultures and languages from many ethnic, linguistic, and social backgrounds. Aside from the Arawaks, the original inhabitants of Jamaica, all people were exiles or children of exiles. Over 90% of the 2.5 million people living in Jamaica today are descendants of slaves brought from western Africa by the British. The local Jamaican language is a reflection of a history of contact with a variety of speakers, but the official language remains to be Standard English (Pryce, 1997). The most influential speakers were immigrants from Africa and Europe. Kwa, Manding, and Kru are amongst the variety of prominent African languages apparent in Jamaican history. Early Modern English was brought to the Caribbean by sailors, soldiers, indentured servants, convicts, and settlers (lower-class whites) in the form of regional and non-standard...

Find Another Essay On Jamaican Patois and the Power of Language in Reggae Music

An Overview of Reggae Music Essay

1255 words - 5 pages , Nina Sky, and N.O.R.E are artists that have made reggaeton popular in the United States. According to Latin Pulse Music, in Puerto Rico, reggaeton was first referred to as “Underground,” mainly due to its often coarse lyrics and unvarnished language and because it is distributed mainly among the youth (Latin Pulse Music, 2006-2011). Similar to the critique of reggaeton is dancehall. Dancehall is a form of reggae but its meaning has slightly

The Value of Literature in Jamaican Schools

1037 words - 5 pages acceptance. Literature is not only about stories and written art, but also serves as a tool to develop literacy skills. While the values of Literature may be questioned, Language Arts is seen as a crucial subject for every field of study, but what one often fails to recognize is that the basic literacy skills are also taught and developed in Literature. The lack of English speakers in the Jamaican society has been a controversial issue for many

The Punk Movement and Reggae

2243 words - 9 pages guitars in aimless clamor, and also because it requires a great sense of rhythm. Reggae is played on the upbeat, which is counterintuitive to many musicians. The power of Reggae and Punk is the conviction and purpose of the musicians, and the simplicity of the music rendered both genres accessible artistic outlets and vehicles by which rebel culture was able to spread to the masses. There exists a paradoxical relationship between the white man

The Power of Language in Shakespeare's Othello

1187 words - 5 pages The Power of Language in Othello      In Othello, Shakespeare explores the relationship between words and events. Spoken thought, in the play, has all the power of action; speaking about an event will make that event become reality for those who hear - it will affect reality as if that event had taken place. Shakespeare demonstrates the power of words poignantly through Othello's monologues. Othello struggles with the reality that Iago

The Power Of Language

1177 words - 5 pages important link between language and power is persuasion. The power of persuasion is so strong it allows certain individuals to influence, and therefore, control thousands, even millions, of people and bind them together in search of one common cause.      This tactic of persuasion is also called propaganda. Propaganda is the spreading of information in order to influence public opinion and to manipulate other

The Power of Language

781 words - 3 pages , Annie Sullivan, showed her the power of language goes beyond words but also into actions. Sullivan was able to teach Keller how to write without sound, but by feeling and touching. One morning Sullivan came to Helen and gave her, her favorite doll to play with. As she was playing with it her teacher spelled “doll” in her hand. Helen was intrigued by these hand movements and then started to repeat them. By doing this she learned her first word. She

The Power of Language

1066 words - 4 pages The Power of Language The unity of a nation is one of the most important factors that determine its prosperity. In this case, language has become one of the most influential driving forces in its ability to enhance communication with others. Wherever people from some country travel through another countries, they carried with them, a national identity, which is usually involved in languages. In the United States, most of people speak English

the power of language

960 words - 4 pages states that Asian American students are pushed to excel in subjects such as math and science and are told to stray away from English. This is the stereotypical view that Asians are more likely to excel at math/science, and fail at English because they simply cannot understand the English language. They receive inferior treatment by society because of their broken English. Tan states, These Asian American students “have teachers who are steering them

The Power of Language

912 words - 4 pages The way that we choose to speak to others is crucial for determining how they interpret messages being sent through spoken language. Even the simplest statements can effect another person either negatively or positively, depending on the words used to convey the message. Word patterns in spoken language hold power when influencing others (Adler and Proctor, 2014). Word choices in communication determine the amount of confidence (or lack thereof

The Power of Music

2748 words - 11 pages “Music is the universal language of mankind” (Longfellow, When most people think about music they think of it as a subtle art. It is something that most people take for granted in their lives. It is fun to sing along to a song in the car, or to dance along at a party, etc... It is also a background noise in movies, or parties, or a variety of other places. Most people never stop and think about the transformative power that

The Power of Music

1890 words - 8 pages Many American schools have been cutting their budgets, and music classes are one of the first classes to be cut. This is because music is not considered part of the core curriculum as are classes such as English and math. Music classes are being cut despite their proven mental benefits in areas such as language and mathematics. Music classes should not be getting cut from public schools and the benefits of playing a musical instrument should be

Similar Essays

The Perception Of Jamaican Expats Through Reggae Music

1020 words - 5 pages culture, people and language. Also stated a brief statement by my father who was in born in Jamaica, and which he migrated to America at a very young age. I also included examples of how reggae has presented the community negatively and positively. The title of this paper is the perception of Jamaican expats through reggae music. Because writing this paper is to express how reggae music benefited the expat community in the US. I, a second generation Jamaican, it has broadened my views on reggae music. I knew reggae music was a part of my culture, but I did not know the dynamics of reggae music.

The Evolution Of Reggae Music Essay

1103 words - 4 pages and most importantly, the emotional lyrics about politics, freedom, poverty and religion (Rastafarianism) Reggae was popular in both urban and rural areas. In the 30's and early 40's, 'Mento' was referred to as "Jamaican Rumba", and "Mango Walk" was an example of a popular hit then. In the 1950's Mento music was subsequently classified as "Calypso". Next, the late 50's and early 60's was the evolvement of "Ska". Being

Reggae: The Music Of Protest Essay

2352 words - 9 pages ;#8230;,n.d.). On the other hand, Bob Marley claimed that the word was Spanish in origin, meaning "the king's music." Veteran Jamaican studio musicians offer the simplest, and probably the most logical, explanation. "It's a description of the beat itself," says Hux Brown, lead guitarist on Paul Simon's 1972 reggae-flavored hit, "Mother and Child Reunion". "It's just a fun, joke kinda word that means the ragged

Retention And Preservation Of African Roots In Jamaican Folk Music

4172 words - 17 pages Retention and Preservation of African Roots in Jamaican Folk Music Preface Amid tens of thousands of volumes in this library collection at UVM, the "silence" is in fact a low hum issuing from the vents. I read essay upon essay, ideas and histories of ideas, until I pause in a pensive moment. A thick green binding breaks my meditation. A title, The Power of Sound, fills my mind with music. I consider the power of words. The music issuing