Ethnologue: Areas: Americas

Jamaica

2,706,000 (1995). Literacy rate 82% to 89%. Also includes Chinese 31,000. Information mainly from R. Hall 1966; J. Holm 1989. Christian, traditional religion, secular. Deaf institutions: 26. Data accuracy estimate: B. The number of languages listed for Jamaica is 3.

ENGLISH [ENG] 322,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Indo-European, Germanic, West, North Sea, English. National language. Bible 1535-1989. NT 1525-1985. Bible portions 1530-1987.

JAMAICAN COUNTRY SIGN LANGUAGE (COUNTRY SIGN) [JCS] Deaf sign language. There is no standardized sign language, but 'Country Sign' differs from region to region. It is used for all communication needs outside the classroom. Signed English is used in at least one deaf school, but students do not understand many of the function words. Many deaf children do not attend school. Survey needed.

WESTERN CARIBBEAN CREOLE ENGLISH [JAM] 2,544,000 in Jamaica (1995 estimate), 94% of the population (1981 Akers); 498,160 in Central America; 12,000 to 18,000 in San Andrés and Providencia; 4,800 in British West Indies; 22,000 in Dominican Republic; 3,054,000 in all countries. Also in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama. Creole, English based, Atlantic, Western. Dialect: JAMAICAN CREOLE ENGLISH (JAMAICAN PATWA, BONGO TALK, QUASHIE TALK). The literacy rate is high and education is in Standard English, but Creole is the dominant language for 94% of the population. Gaining in prestige. Continuum of speech from distinct creole to provincial Standard English of town dwellers. The extreme varieties and Standard English are inherently unintelligible (Voegelin and Voegelin, LePage, Adler). It may be partly intelligible with Cameroons Pidgin and Krio of Sierra Leone, spoken by descendants of Jamaicans repatriated between 1787 and 1860. Reported to be very close to Creole of Belize, close to Grenada, St. Vincent, different from Tobago, very different from Guyana, Barbados, Leeward and Windward Islands. 25% lexical similarity with Guyanese, 13% with Belizean, 9% with Trinidadian, 8% with Barbadian, 5% with Nicaraguan. Linguistic influences from Akan in Ghana and Bantu (I. Hancock 1988). Work in progress.


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Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor.
Copyright © 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc. All rights reserved.

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