Jamaican Creole English


A language of Jamaica

Alternate Names
Bongo Talk, Jamaican Patois, Jimiekn, Jimiekn Langwij, Jumieka Kruyol, Jumieka Languij, Jumieka Langwij, Jumieka Taak, Patois, Patwa, Patwah, Western Caribbean Creole, “Quashie Talk” (pej.)
Jamiekan, Jumiekan

2,670,000 in Jamaica (2001). Total users in all countries: 3,037,100.



Language Status

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


None known. 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.

Language Use

Vigorous. Dominant language and gaining in prestige. Post-Creole continuum from distinct Creole to provincial English of town dwellers. Not widely accepted as a literary language. Positive attitudes. Most consider that they speak standard English [eng]. Also use English [eng]. Used as L2 by Konchri Sain [jcs].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L2: High in English. Literature. Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 2012.


Latin script [Latn].

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:

Expand All
Collapse All
Page Views Left: