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Languages of Jamaica

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Jamaica. 2,713,130. National or official language: English. Literacy rate: 82% to 89%. Also includes North Levantine Spoken Arabic (2,000), Portuguese (5,000), Spanish (8,000), Chinese (31,000). Deaf population: 154,909. Deaf institutions: 26. The number of languages listed for Jamaica is 3. Of those, all are living languages.

Living languages


[eng]   Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, English 
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Jamaican Country Sign Language

[jcs]   Alternate names: Country Sign.  Dialects: There is no standardized sign language, but 'Country Sign' differs from region to region.  Classification: Deaf sign language 
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Jamaican Creole English

[jam] 2,665,636 in Jamaica (2001). Population total all countries: 3,181,171. Also spoken in Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Panama, United Kingdom, USA. Alternate names: Patwa, Patois, Bongo Talk, Quashie Talk, Southwestern Caribbean Creole English.  Dialects: The basilect (extreme varieties) and Standard English are inherently unintelligible to each other's speakers (Voegelin and Voegelin, LePage, Adler). It may be partly intelligible to speakers of Cameroon Pidgin and Krio of Sierra Leone, spoken by descendants of Jamaicans repatriated between 1787 and 1860. Inherently intelligible to speakers of creoles in Panama and Costa Rica. Reported to be very close to Belize Creole, close to Grenada, Saint Vincent, different from Tobago, very different from Guyana, Barbados, Leeward and Windward islands. Lexical similarity 25% with Guyanese, 13% with Belizean, 9% with Trinidadian, 8% with Barbadian, 5% with Nicaraguan.  Classification: Creole, English based, Atlantic, Western 
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