Sun | Oct 25, 2020

Interesting use of Jamaican language

Published:Tuesday | August 4, 2020 | 12:15 AM


Reading Daniel Thwaites’ Sunday Gleaner articles is for me what going to church is for many others. No disrespect intended, but I get a sense of inspiration and enjoyment out of his columns.

The article on August 2, 2020, ‘Ruel’s ‘detail’ requires more details’ was no exception.

Then having read and laughed, it occurred to me that in order to enjoy Thwaites’ articles fully, one needs to have a fairly good grasp of the English language.

Recently, I have been watching a few of the English grammar classes offered to certain grades on TV, and based on a few agreements or spelling errors made in the captions, while the TV teacher happily carried on addressing her audience of “schoolers” as “you guys” (which I find annoying – but I digress), I am wondering whether a solid grasp of English (as accepted and spoken all over the world) is not necessary to appreciate Mr Thwaites’ mixture of irony, double entendre, etc, and if the Jamaican language is eventually established as our lingua franca, would readers adept in that language only not miss the pleasure of Thwaites’ writing?

Not only Thwaites’ articles, but so many great books in standard English, including those by Caribbean authors, too, might be missed, and would that not be a loss? Just thinking out loud.

Interestingly, writer Thwaites uses the Jamaican language effectively in the body of his article, but nuances are there that require the reader to be au fait with “standard” English, or am I wrong?

My point is that our COVID-19-assigned TV teachers must be more careful, and, indeed, our TV stations, whose editors seem to be letting errors slip through when teaching English via the medium is being prepared. It might not be a bad idea to avoid such Americanisms as “you guys” because I think appropriate substitutes can be found.