Jamaican Creole English


A language of Jamaica

Alternate Names
Bongo Talk, Jamiekan, Limon Creole English, Patois, Patwa, Quashie Talk

2,670,000 in Jamaica (2001). Population total all countries: 3,205,000.

Language Status

5 (Developing). De facto language of national identity.


None known. The basilect and standard English mutually inherently unintelligible (Voegelin and Voegelin 1977, Le Page 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.

Language Use

Vigorous. Dominant language and gaining in prestige. Post-Creole continuum from distinct Creole to provincial English of town dwellers. Positive attitudes. Most consider that they speak standard English [eng]. Also use English [eng].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: High in English. Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 2012.
Other Comments

There is a continuum of variation from basilectal Creole to acrolectal English of the educated. Linguistic influences from Akan [aka] languages in Ghana and Bantu languages (Hancock 1988).

Also spoken in:

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