JG - Den who is de owna?
One interesting thing about Jamaica is the language. The State Department considers Jamaica to be an English-speaking country. Thus, there is no language training for officers being assigned for tours there, English being a language in which most FSOs tend to be quite talented.
This doesn't mean that the Jamaican language doesn't exist. Patois or "Jamaican Creole" exists. One of the things that holds Patois back, in addition to the perception that it is the language of the uneducated, is the lack of a standardized written form. Also, in the spoken form there can be considerable regional variation in the spoken forms as you travel across the island of Jamaica.
There are several academics who promote the use of written Jamaican patois through books and articles, including, I believe, Ms. Meeks. This is, in great respect, an exercise in nationalism, which is quite in keeping with the American experience with the English language. Patois is certainly, at the very least, a distinct dialect of English. Much of Patois vocabulary consists of English words, however they are often arranged in a grammar owing much to various African languages which were imported, along with their speakers, by the slave trade from West Africa. Also, some English words, in Jamaican usage, gain additional or retain archaic meanings.
What always strikes me when I read written Jamaican Creole is how it reminds me of Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn." Twain attempted to capture the slave dialect of the pre-Civil War American South as spoken by his character Jim. The same influences, the altered grammar of the non-literate, can be seen written Jamaican Creole.
This is not, by any stretch, to imply that the Jamaican language is in any way comparable to, for instance, "Ebonics." Jamaican Creole is, at the very least, a genuine dialect with a geographically distinct area of usage. It may, in fact, be a proto-language in its own right.
The article below is clearly written by an educated person, familiar with history and politics and fluent in "proper" English, but who cherishes their birth tongue and is not ashamed to use the familiar and homey usages to help her transmit her editorial message to those whose grasp of standard English is less than perfect.
Den who is de owna?
published: Sunday June 26, 2005
Amina Blackwood Meeks
In case you have not noticed, let it be transmitted by Jing Bang Broadcasting Station that it was published on page round-de-back where nuff tings do not get noticed, that the Minister of Science of Technology have issues with the whole heap of billions of good currency that Jamaican music is fetching abroad an plenty times none doan come a yaad because is not Jamaicans fetching it.
As far as JB is concerned that should be on the front page of every newspaper where Mista Shields can read it again and again and again, right next to where Haiti and the Dominican Republic is putting dem own ackee and jerk seasoning into can and attaching the "Jamaican" label and fetching dallas roun de worl and proclaiming Ackee and Saltfish to be the national dish of the Caribbean. Dem have a point dere so, for if we was eating more from one anedda we wudden have to fraid starvation when we cannot afford fe eat from adda people.
no real say
An when what dem produce is choking we, we wudden have to wash it down wit a can of tropical fruit drinks made in Thailand and brand name "Jus Cool". We wudda reach fe some good ole Jamaican bebridge made from local lime, local water and local sugar. But see de trial dere, it doan even look like we have any real say bout de sugar for adda else people have de right to meck it very unprofitable fe we to produce it. An dat is a very bitter pill to swallow. JB sey she smell a rat. Dis rat have two hand, Mista Agricultural Minista, not two foot. Into one hand him carry something marked "det relief", into de adda hand him have a machete fe slash prices. Dat way we get det from starvation an him get relief from having to honour any commitment.
But de real issue fe JB as Rising SupaStar out dere is who is de real owna of de tings dem dat dis Mysterious Race of Adda People always come bax outa we mout. For if you walk into a shop, yu kean jus tell de shop owna sey yu cutting de price pan de goods by 40 per cent. Try dat an mark my word, nutten can shield you from a long prison sentence. Sinting like, "dis honorable court hereby find you guilty of attempting to obtain goods by menace bordering on extortion." So you politely ask for a discount and de smaddy who authorise to give discounts will be revealed as not having much of a capacity in de English Language and a capacity in de Jamaica Language that does not exceed five per cent, take it or leave it. Smaddy else must buy it. When you own something yu behave with authority. Yu see dem outa street wit yu tings, yu call dung KingFish pan dem, no lamentations bout how dem have it an won't give it back. Dis is not no dollyhouse business. 'Merica swoop dung pan China an treaten up wid dire tings over some alleged abuse of Disney merchandise of art an ideas. An quick a clack China comply, dem nevah offer no defence 'bout sinting into de public domain and global marketplace and once idea leggo anybaddy can grab it an buckle hole it. No. Dem fraid 'Merican big stick clabba-claw dem.
So JB wants to know ef a nuh we own reggae music, ef a nuh out a fe we head it come an ef copyright nuh apply to dat. Doan't a riddim can copyright, Missa Steve Golding? Yes, for two man mussi still a try fe copyright Kumina riddim up into de same America. You can imagine Miss Bernice Henry an Queenie Kennedy a pay royalties everytime dem set a Kumina table. Go see JCDC a look sponsorship fe de hundred and fifty school group what enter brukins into de dance competition. Mashala! Next ting Adda People having a Bruckins Party an a deejay into Adda People language to Dinki Mini riddim an it deh pan page a back sey dem is earning farin exchange in excess from it an all we a sey is "let us celebrate what we have given to de worl."
Give or take?
Is give we give dem or is teck dem teck it by subterfuge? Or is careless we jus plain careless wid we tings? For when teef ransack yu place fus ting police ask is if de place did lock up or if smaddy else had a key. Den dem start look fe point of forced entry. But it look like we teck careless tun business an doan even notice sey dat kind of business is lucrative only to Adda People. Teefing people's art is a ancient business. As dem open King Tut grave, de gold an treasures diminish to just enough fe we guess what use to be in dere. As dem enter Iraq de shock an awe of the magnificent art work hypnotise dem fe carry it back a dem yaad go show it off. Dem meck war into Ghana an teck de art work into protective custody. Dem have de Benin Treasures a gadda mildew into a basement an wudden even lend dem some fe display at FESTAC. Dem a if-an-but bout de obelisks from Ethiopia. Dem sey dem a meck road inna India an fine wan helluva piece a jade meck into a Buddha an have it kotch up wan door of a museum far from India. Is a everlasting list.
JB sey she read into a article name, "Vanishing Treasures: Art as Prey in a Changing World" by Constance Lowenthal dat "Owning great art was seen as a special privilege enhancing the status of France. At the same time, this policy deprived conquered peoples of a source of pride and a touchstone of national identity". She sey dat is fe dem code fe hide from yu sey dem deliberately and direckly know what dem doing. An we fe stan up now like de poor people dem dat Fidel Castro talk bout when him had was to defen meck him blaze fire pan de Moncada Barracks inna1953. Him sey him cudden jus stan up an watch dem "live and die working land that is not theirs, looking at it with the sadness of Moses gazing at the promised land, to die without ever owning it." Except now de ting is ours and we mus look pan it like is someting we working on behalf of de real owners from Adda People Land.
Jing Bang sey she did know fram long time sey is de music dem want. Dis bag a talk bout inciting violence and lyrics pan people into dem bedroom was an outrageous ploy fe come in de back door when we a try fe see a what a come chu de front door. Watch an see ef dem nuh soon start grow sugar an employ we same one pan fe dem plantation. Mista Minista, do likkle investigation an see ef yu nuh see Adda People backa de argument bout National Dish of de Caribbean wid a plan into dem hand mark "How To Make Jamaica Invisible". We better find we owna plan name Ownership and Protection. Is dat Earl Lovelace mean. If we doan fine a way fe claim we self Adda People a go dweet in ways we could nat imagine. Dem coming fe we Heart, yu know sar, an dem plan fe teck out de art outa it. Everyting haffe patent an copyright, from how much foot apart fe plant de ackee tree dem to which riddim we play when food sweet we. An it have to put into a secret recipe hiding place what meck Colonel Sanders look like him doan even a try. An is dat again, for him progeny rich an globalised an we doan even know de name of de lady who did cook de chicken fe him an tell him what was in it meantime him a lick him finga. So we have to decide fe ack like we know a who a de owna.