Thu | Dec 14, 2017

How far can Patois take you?

Published:Monday | September 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Amazingly, John Roomes did not write his column ('The case for Patwa', Gleaner, August 29, 2017) in the dialect that he is selling to the Jamaican people. What is he trying to tell those of us who are grateful for the English language that took us farther than our front gate? The thought that we could be anywhere in the world speaking/writing only this Jamaican dialect just as easily is not true!

Mr Roomes wrote this article using every bit of that English language training that his parents could give him. The place for our dialect is where it should be in our lives - it is fun to talk with other Jamaicans, and not too many other people in the world understand it.

 

wrong assumption

 

Are you saying that Jamaicans cannot learn English because some grew up speaking this dialect? Not so.

I am very proud to have been a part of the British era, and many times wished that we were still a part of it. I was told by my parents as a child to learn the English language in school and speak it at home because it would take me a long way in life.

My first job as a teenager was in a hotel. Would I have been hired to speak to tourists if I had not been competent at English? Going backwards is not progress. We have come a very long way - and quite slowly - to get where we are. Are we that desperate for something to be called a first language?

So what grand and glorious life change will come for the thousands of Jamaicans who cannot read or write Patois at the moment. How much further will it take them? Ask them if they would rather have had their adult children not schooled in proper English. Ask whether the young ones should not push themselves to learn all they can.

Thank God I can work and speak and write a language that most of the world still fights to learn.

LORNA VINES

Treasure Beach