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English is Jamaica’s Official Language

Jamaica

Interesting Facts in Easy English

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • Western Hemisphere: the half of the globe that lies west of the prime meridian
  • colony: a region that is partly controlled by another nation
  • patois: any non-standard language
  • Creole: mixed European and African ancestry; often refers to people or food in the Caribbean

English is Jamaica’s Official Language

Jamaica is the third-largest English-speaking country in the Western Hemisphere. Jamaica uses English because it was a British colony. Like Canadians, however, Jamaicans have adopted many American words, phrases and spellings . English is Jamaica’s official language and is taught in schools, but Jamaica also has own informal language called Jamaican Patois (also spelled Patwa or Patwah). This is an English-based Creole language with West African influences. In Jamaica, Patois is mainly a language. The structure is different from English in many ways. For example, there is no agreement.

Comprehension Questions

  1. What is the official language of Jamaica?
  2. What is Jamaican Patois?
  3. What grammatical structure does Jamaican Patois not have that English does have?

Discussion Questions: There is a long-standing debate about whether or not Jamaican Patois is “broken English” or a unique language worth preserving. What is your opinion about non-standard languages?

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