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What is Cooper's Patois plan?

Published:Tuesday | March 27, 2012 | 12:00 AM


I BELIEVE it was Wilmot Perkins who wrote a column in late 1980 or early 1981 titled 'Bees with doctorates'. It was in response to a suggestion from a university academic who argued for the implementation of proportional representation in Parliament which would have given the then defeated People's National Party a higher seat count in Gordon House than it had obtained under the first-past-the-post system in the October 1980 general election.

In dismissing what he saw as the folly of the argument, Perkins suggested that a bee with a doctorate conferred on it, remains essentially, a bee. The same is true, I suppose, of goats.

Professor Carolyn Cooper in her almost weekly butting at windmills in a sterile campaign to get Jamaican education officials and other institutions to give pre-eminence to Jamaican Patois/Creole is making herself a candidate for the goat's cap and gown.

Cooper, who frequently invokes the name of Louise Bennett, seemingly unable to appreciate the fact there can only be one Miss Lou, is now fighting Morris Cargill's duppy. Cargill lampooned many things Jamaican and West Indian yes, but, in retrospect, his poking fun at the inflated egos of pompous Caribbean officials was far more useful than worshipping at the shrine of foolishness in the name of patriotism.

No clear explanation

In none of her articles has Cooper clearly explained how far she expects this proposed Patois project to go. Is it that children will be taught in the vernacular at the early-childhood or primary school level to make them more competent in English and then abandon Patois at the secondary level?

If not, how yu a guh teach di pickney dem 'bout titration, Pythagoras theorem, Boyle's Law, and trigonometry in Jamaican? When they reach university level, will lectures on existentialist philosophy be taught in Jamaican - after all if it is a bona fide language, why not? Or what about lecturers in the Faculty of Medical Sciences teaching trainee doctors in Jamaican?

The simple fact is that Jamaican Patois/Creole is limited in its scope and usefulness and no amount of self-indulgent campaigning is going to change that.

Indeed, The Gleaner owes a responsibility to its readers to end this almost weekly nonsense. At least Cargill used to write about a variety of subjects.

'Professor Red Head'