THE EDITOR, Sir:
I AM in agreement with Chester Burgess on the issue of educated people sounding and I may add talking educated. I continue to disagree, however, with his position on Patois, our Jamaican language. It is always difficult to endorse something that is not widespread or create difficulties, especially when communicating with others.
English is good or for that matter good, well spoken English is even better. We have to educate our people to speak English, but we should never abandon our own language. I may be one of the 'yahoolists', but Patois does have its place in Jamaican social life. Imagine singing our lovely folk songs in standard English, a most boring experience to say the least.
I have an experience that I would like to share with Mr. Burgess, which could open his mind to think of the value of Patois. In 1980, I was living in the former Soviet Union. I was with a group of students from Central and South America. None could speak English and I had very limited abilities in speaking Spanish. The group consisted of six students from Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica. I was introduced to the group and the six students from these countries wanted to speak to me.
I indicated that I could not speak Spanish and would like to have the interpreter, so that we could talk about our respective countries. One member of the group started speaking in Patois; the others joined in and for the next ten months we communicated in Patois, pure Jamaican Patois. They all new Patois because their great-grandparents were immigrants from Jamaica and had settled in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Patois was our means of communication and it made my stay among these Spanish-speaking students more enjoyable and rewarding.
I hope Mr. Burgess will continue to defend the English language and give us lessons similar to that which he gave in The Gleaner on August 16, 2001. Keep up the good work, but please remember the words of Bob Marley " yu running and yu running and yu running away... but can't run away from yourself."
I am etc.,