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Jamaican Creole English

A language of Jamaica

ISO 639-3jam

Population  2,670,000 in Jamaica (2001). Population total all countries: 3,202,600.
Region  Also in Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Panama, United Kingdom, United States.
Language map  Creole Languages of the Northern Caribbean
Alternate names   Bongo Talk, Limon Creole English, Panamanian Creole English, Patois, Patwa, Quashie Talk, Southwestern Caribbean Creole English
Dialects  The basilect and Standard English mutually inherently unintelligible (Voegelin and Voegelin 1977, LePage 1960, Adler 1977). May be partly intelligible to speakers of Cameroon Pidgin [wes] and Krio [kri] of Sierra Leone, spoken by descendants of Jamaicans repatriated between 1787 and 1860. Inherently intelligible to creole speakers in Panama and Costa Rica. Reportedly very similar to Belize Creole [bzj], similar to Grenada, Saint Vincent, different from Tobago, very different from Guyana, Barbados, Leeward and Windward islands. Lexical similarity: 25% with Guyanese Creole English [gyn], 13% with Belize Kriol English [bzj], 9% with Trinidadian Creole English [trf], 8% with Bajan [bjs], 5% with Nicaragua Creole English [bzk].
Classification  Creole, English based, Atlantic, Western
Language use  Vigorous. Creole is the dominant language and gaining in prestige. Post-Creole continuum from the distinct Creole to provincial Standard English of town dwellers. Most believe they speak Standard English. Also use Standard English.
Language development  Literacy rate in L2: High in English. Dictionary. Grammar.
Comments  Linguistic influences from Akan [aka] languages in Ghana and Bantu languages (Hancock 1988).

Also spoken in:

Costa Rica

Language name   Limón Creole English
Population  55,100 in Costa Rica (1986).
Region  East of San José, principally along the railroad between Siquirres and Limón, south of Limón along the road.
Language map  Costa Rica
Alternate names  Southwestern Caribbean Creole English
Language use  Vigorous. All ages. Creole is not considered proper for literary purposes. They consider Jamaican Creole more ‘broken’ than their own. Most have limited comprehension of Standard English.
Comments  Jamaican migrants settled in Limón and Panama middle of the 19th century, so those varieties are similar. Some say they do not understand Islander Creole English [icr] of San Andrés.


Language name   Panamanian Creole English
Population  268,000 in Panama (2000).
Region  Bocas del Toro, Colón, and Rio Abajo in Panama City.
Language map  Panama
Alternate names  Southwestern Caribbean Creole English
Language use  Formerly education was in English, but now in Spanish.
Comments  Ancestors came from Barbados and Jamaica in mid-19th century to work in fruit plantations, and later to build the railway and canal. Influences from both eastern and western Caribbean Creole English.