Jamaican is an English-based Creole with influences from languages of
West and Central Africa. It developed during the 17th century and includes significant
influences from various dialects of English, especially those of Scotland and Ireland.
Over 4 million people speak Jamaican, most of whom live in Jamaica. There are
also many speakers in parts of the USA, Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua
and the UK.
Jamaican is used mainly as a spoken language, though has been used to
some extent as a literary language for over a century. The is no written
standard, though increased use of the language in writing, especially in
schools, has led to a partial standardisation. Some schools in Jamaica
use both English and Jamaican as mediums of instruction and have found
that children taught in this way tend to achieve better results than
those taught only in English.
Information about the Jamaican alphabet and pronunciation compiled by Wolfram Siegel
Di habrij Jumiekan di taak wa dehn taak dehn kaali patwa, dehn kaali kriol, ar iivn
bad hInglish, askaadn tu ou dehn fiil proud ar kaanful. Jumiekan dem uona hatitiuud
divaid uoba di langwij di huol a dem taak di muos, likl muos aal di taim. Alduo hInglish
a di hofishal langwij a di konchri, ahn dehn aal ab wa dehn kaal Jumiekan hInglish, a
muosli bakra ahn tapanaaris yu hie widi iina hofishal serkl, anles smadi waahn himpres
wid piiki-puoki. Kaman yuusij rienj frahn Jumiekan hInglish to braad patwa wid bout
chrii digrii a separieshan, aafn iina di wan piika siem wan kanvasieshan.
The speech of the average Jamaican is variously described as a patois or creole, or
even as bad English, depending on the degree of pride or disdain of the describer.
Jamaicans' attitudes themselves are very divided over the language they all speak most,
if not all, of the time. Although English is the official language of the country, and
a variant known as Jamaican English is acknowledged, it is mostly heard only in formal
situations, unless one wants to impress with "speaky-spoky." Common usage ranges from
Jamaican English to broad patois with about three degrees of separation, often within
a single speaker's conversation.