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Language in Exile

Three Hundred Years of Jamaican Creole

Barbara Lalla, Jean D'Costa

Publication Year: 2009

"An important addition to studies of the genesis and life of Jamaican Creole as well as other New World creoles such as Gulla. Highlighting the nature of the nonstandard varieties of British English dialects to which the African slaves were exposed, this work presents a refreshingly cogent view of Jamaican Creole features."
--SECOL Review

"The history of Jamaican Creole comes to life through this book. Scholars will analyze its texts, follow the leads it opens up, and argue about refining its interpretations for a long time to come."
--Journal of Pidgin & Creole Languages

"The authors are to be congratulated on this substantial contribution to our understanding of how Jamaican Creole developed. Its value lies not only in the linguistic insights of the authors but also in the rich trove of texts that they have made accessible."
--English World-Wide

"Provides valuable historical and demographic data and sheds light on the origins and development of Jamaican Creole. Lalla and D'Costa offer interesting insights into Creole genesis, not only through their careful mapping of the migrations from Europe and Africa, which constructed the Jamaican society but also through extensive documentation of early texts. . . . Highly valuable to linguists, historians, anthropologists, psychologists, and anyone interested in the Caribbean or in the history of mankind."
--New West Indian Guide

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-x


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xvi

Ten years ago, the writers of this book embarked on a search for the beginnings of Jamaican Creole, image of Jamaica's history, ally and enemy of Standard Jamaican English, and, mother tongue of Jamaica's majority, the enforcer of complex language behavior in every Jamaican. ...


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pp. xvii-xx

Part One: Early Jamaican Creole

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pp. 1-5

The questions most fascinating to creolists are those that ask exactly how and when such languages as Jamaican Creole or Cameroon Pidgin or Gullah came into existence. All too often, the questions must be asked in the absence of historical data adequate to determine either the precise timing of the process of creolization ...

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1. The Colonial Crucible

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pp. 6-36

Language usage in today's Jamaica represents a history of contact among many different types of speakers drawn from many ethnic, linguistic, and social backgrounds. Save for the first known inhabitants-extinct by about 1620-all were exiles or the children of exiles. ...

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2. Source Materials

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pp. 37-46

Because Jamaican Creole grew out of folk usage and was thus an oral language, those who spoke it rarely wrote it down. Instead, most of its chroniclers were educated Britons who wrote in the metropolitan English of their times, employing a variety of genres, styles, and registers. ...

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3. Reconstructing the Sound System

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pp. 47-67

The phonological structure of early Jamaican Creole can be inferred only after detailed orthographical analysis. Such analysis is complicated by the problems that writers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries would have encountered in their efforts to set down an oral, nonstandard language that partially overlapped with their own. ...

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4. Morphosyntax and Lexicon

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pp. 68-78

Extensive syntactic analysis lies well beyond the scope of this volume, partly because the data yields little that contrasts with twentieth-century JC. The texts collected in this volume have, with a single exception (Text 24), produced few surprises in the realm of syntax. ...

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5. Language Variation

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pp. 79-98

Limited in many ways, the data of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century JC nonetheless point to the foundations of a speech continuum in Jamaica. Extensive language variation apparently existed between basilectal Jamaican Creole at one end of the spectrum and acrolectal Jamaican English at the other. ...

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6. Implications of the Data

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pp. 99-124

Textual records of Jamaican Creole suggest that the language in its earliest form resembled other Caribbean English creoles and West African anglophone creoles more than it does today. It is difficult to evade the issue of common ancestry. ...

Part Two: Data and Commentary

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7. The Late Seventeenth Century

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pp. 127-128

Sir Hans Sloane visited Jamaica in 1687-1689, making his famous botanical survey of the island and compiling material used in his description of the Caribbean region. Although the first volume of his account of his stay in Jamaica was published eighteen years after his sojourn as personal physician to the governor of Jamaica, ...

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8. The Eighteenth Century

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pp. 129-132

Eighteenth-century writers in Jamaica seldom recorded any verbatim nonstandard speech. The speech of Africans and creoles is represented by sparse word lists, and few writers even attempted to comment on the language usage of the island. ...

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9. The Early Nineteenth Century

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pp. 133-168

Hugh Crow (1765-1829) of Liverpool, a captain active in the triangular trade, retired after making his final journey from Bonny in 1807-1808. His Memoirs (begun in 1815 and continued up to shortly before his death) were edited by his executors chiefly from his manuscript and from anecdotes fresh in their recollections (Crow 1830: 179). ...

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10. The Later Nineteenth Century

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pp. 169-216

In the preface to his memoir, Henry G. Murray admits to having "Anglicised the native idiom, for the benefit of readers, not 'to the manner born.' '' His narrative is set firmly in SE, yet the dialogues incorporated in it and, most notably, the following "Nancy Story" of Mudfish (Murray 1877: 21-23), ...


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pp. 217-222


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pp. 223-232


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pp. 233-250


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pp. 251-253

E-ISBN-13: 9780817384098
E-ISBN-10: 081738409X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817355654
Print-ISBN-10: 0817355650

Page Count: 276
Illustrations: 41
Publication Year: 2009