Tue | Jul 17, 2018

LETTER OF THE DAY: How would the Patois policy work?

Published:Saturday | April 16, 2011 | 12:00 AM


If I understand the pro-Patois being-taught-in-school lobby correctly, Jamaican would be the main language of communication, especially in the early years. This is based on the assumption that Patois is the main language of communication at home and the home environment for children before they enter the formal education system. How then would we deal with those children for whom this is not a reality?

My son will be four years old in another week. At kindergarten, his teachers apparently speak mainly English. I say this simply because of how I hear him speaking. At home, we do not make any special effort to speak standard English, but I suppose that is what he hears for the most part. The books we read to him are in English and the cartoons he watches are in English.

So while occasionally he will say "Come upstairs, nuh?" OR "Get up nuh?", for the most part he communicates in English.

"Daddy, where is Mommy?"; Daddy, where did Mommy go?"; If Mommy goes ahead of us into the supermarket, when he spots her, he says, "Mommy, I have found you!"

I am frankly surprised sometimes when I hear him saying things, because it is in reasonably good English. So do we run the risk of confusing him with the 'wrong thing' when we start 'educating' him in Patois? And please don't tell me that Patois does not have anything 'wrong'.

A man from a French-speaking country once asked me how do we say "morning" in Jamaican, and I replied, "Maawnin." His reply translated was: "Oh, it is malformed English." I had to concede that, for the most part, that is what it is, no matter how we try to dress it up in bandanna.

I am, etc.,