You are on page 1of 8

Language (Dialectal) Variation

Language Variation or Dialectal Variation, refers to changes

in language due to various influences. These include, social,
geographic, individual and group factors.
This refers to the variety of language characteristic of a
particualar group of people in a given speech community
(country) or region. For example one may refer to a Caribbean
dialect as there are certain vocabulary items and sentence
structures that Caribbean countries have in common.
There is no definition of creole that is accepted by all. The
meaning of the word 'creole' has changed considerably over the
years. However, it is normally used to refer to a dialect or
language which results from contact between the language of a
colonizing people and the language of a colonized people. In the
Caribbean, Creole languages are as a result of contact between
English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch (languages of the
colonizers) and West African languages (languages of the
Patois is a word of French origin which translates most closely, in
French, to mean 'gibbrish'. It was a word used to describe how
foreign and strange Creole languages sounded to the speakers of
European languages. Patois is used to refer to a geographical
dialect which differs from the standard language spoken in a
given country. In Jamaica, for example, the word patois is used
to refer to the English based creole spoken. Patois carries the
usual negative associations and lack of prestige which
characterize non-standard, rural or regional dialects.
StandardVariety (Eg, English, French)
This is the variety of language or dialect that is used for formal,
official and education purposes. It is also used as an instrument
for mass education and communication causing it to
acquire greater prestige and uniformity. (Creoles have
been observed to lack uniformity as a result of not being

standardized.) Most Caribbean countries have a Eurpoean

language as its standard variety for formal, official purposes and
a Creole language for informal communication amongst native,
family and friends. The notable exception is Haiti where the
French Creole was made an official language alongside French.
This is a popular, fashionable use of words and phrases which
may be either old words given new meaning or completely new
words. In the same way that fashion changes, so do slang
expressions. Slang is a normal part of everyday speech but may
not be acceptable in certain formal settings. When used in formal
writing, in particular, these expressions should be put in inverted
commas (For e.g, 'wicked'- Jamaican slang for good/amazing,
'off the chain'-American slang for exciting/good)
Foreign English
This refers to varieties of the English language spoken by persons
not from ones country.

Rasta English
This refers to a special variety of English indegenous to Jamaica,
spoken by a religious group of persons called Rastafarians. This
variety diffrentiates itself from standard and non-standard
English by use of different, specialized vocabulary items. The
psychology of 'no contradiction' extends to all aspects of a
Rastafarian's life, including language. Hence because it sounds
contradictory for oppress -/up-res/ to mean held down in life,
Rastafarians refer to this verb as downpress. Likewise instead of
participation -/part-icipation/ to mean being fully involved they
refer to this noun as fullticipation. The language is also
characterized by use of 'I' to signify positivity and the importance
of the individual in relation to another, so instead of 'You and I',
Rasta would refer to us as 'I and I' to signify that we are both
equal in importance. Irie, refers to a good vibe and Ital food
refers to food considered good for the body (i.e, Vegetarian based

Language Registers
Register refers to the perceived attitude and level of formality
associated with a variety of language. The relationship between
the writer's attitude and the variety chosen is very important in
the study of written language. In face to face speech, the listener
can easily interpret the attitude of the speaker by examining the
speaker's tone of voice, facial expressions and overall body
language. This is not possible in writing. The writer has to use
speacialized features of discourse to convey or mask attitudes. It
is then the reader's reponsibility to correctly interpret the
writer's attitude, tone and level of formality. Language
Registers range on a scale from most formal to most informal.
The five levels identified have been given specialized names by
Linguists; frozen, formal, consultative, casual and
1. Frozen: This is where the use of language is fixed and
relatively static. The national pledge, anthem, school creeds and
The Lord's Prayer are examples of a frozen register. In essence it
is language that does not require any feedback.
Example: "All visitors are invited to proceed upstairs
2. Formal: This describes language used in official and
ceremonial settings. For example in court, in a business meeting,
at a swearing in ceremony, in an interview or in a classroom etc.
The language used in these settings is comparatively rigid and
has a set, agreed upon vocabulary that is well documented. In
other words, the language used is often of a standard variety.
Example: "Would everyone please proceed upstairs at once?"
3. Consultative: This describes language used for the purpose
of seeking assistance as is suggested by the word 'consult'. It also
describes the language used between a superior and subordinate.
In both cases one person is deemed as more knowledgeable and
having greater expertise and the other person is the beneficiary
of such knowledge and expertise. The language dynamism
between lawyer/client, doctor/patient, employer/employee and
teacher/student are examples of this type of register.

Example: "Would you all please go upstairs right away?"

4. Casual/Informal: This describes language used between
friends. It is often very relaxed and focused on just getting the
information out. Slangs are quite often used in these instances.
Example: "Come on upstairs now."
5. Intimate: This is used to describe language used between
persons who share a close relationship or bond. This register
would take into account certain terms of endearment, slangs or
expressions whose meaning is shared with a small subset of
persons. For example lovers having special terms of endearment,
mothers giving pet names to their children based on some
character trait and best friends formulating slangs based on
some shared past experience.
Example: "Come up nuh/ Unu naa go up?/ Unu naa forward?"

Attitudes Toward Language

Arguments For Creole as a Language:
Over here they basically ask you for the
characteristics of a language. You're supposed
to say that Creole is
dynamic/human/systematic etc. so therefore it
is a language and equal to Standard English.
What language are you writing this exam in
again? Standard English? Oh the hypocrisy
Arguments Against Creole as a Language:
Throw all that bullshit about national pride
and heritage out the window now. Who gives a
shit if we're independent nations? Europe is the
shit! We should be more like them.

Creole is the language of the lower class,

uneducated, powerless, country folk and
persons whose ancestors were slaves and
indentured workers in the Caribbean! It has no
prestige and it is sub-standard and inferior!
(word of advice, I don't think
examiners appreciate this much sarcasm in
answers, so tone it down a little)
Creole cannot be written as there is no
consensus on an official written form
Creole language varies from island to island
Creole is the language of comedy

Arguments For Standard English:

Yup they seriously ask this.
It is internationally recognized and accepted
It is governed by grammar, phonological,
syntactic and morphological rules (forget
everything you just said about Creole being a
language because of these same reasons,
CAPE doesn't give a shit)
It can be written (yeah gyal only
Standard English people and dem does have
hand and know how to use pencil and ting)
It is the main language used in the media, in
schools, in exams etc. The shit's everywhere
Arguments Against Standard English:
It my not be as recognized or understood in the
Creole speaking community (thank you Anya
Azrael). However they rarely ask this, the
question is usually phrased like... "what is a
benefit of writing in exams in Creole?" to which
you reply something along the lines of "easier
to comprehend for Creole speakers." Basically
the same thing really, just switch sides a bit.
Code switching or adopting a variety of English
spoken by others can be a sign of a lack of
confidence or pride in one's own language. You
usually see this in dialogues in Paper 01/A.

Communicative Behaviors
Yes another important topic. Have fun :)
Communicative behaviour is basically what is
communicated to the listener by the speaker.
Its the impression that they get. The speaker
may be unaware of these impressions but they
say a lot about a person. Let me tell you about
them in fancy CAPE words:

Vocalics or paralangue - this refers how how

loud/fast the speaker talks (volume/rate), their
tone and pitch of voice. Basically how they
speak. Example?
Someone who speaks really quickly, with a
high pitch during an interview can be assumed
to be nervous.
Someone who speaks my sarcastic monotone
is conveying that they are bored and probably
annoyed at how stupid you are.
Proxemics - you know, like proximity? That's
basically the speaker's use of space when they
try to deliever a message. What do these
things say about the speaker?

They stand six inches in front of you

They stay in one place when delivering a
speech, gripping on to the podium as though
it's the only thing supporting them.
Artifacts - this refers to the speaker's use of
objects to related a message.
a poltician who is wearing your national flag as
a tie pie vs. one that has a nazi armband
Kinesics or Body language - this refers to the
speakers use of body language, facial
expression, posture and eye contact in speech.
someone who doesn't maintain eye contact
someone who is slouching during a lecture
A speaker that has a scowl on their face during
a speech
Chronemics - The speaker's attitude or use of
time say alot, about them.
someone who shows up an hour late to an
orientation to make a speech
This comes for both paper 01A and 2. Try to
remember the fancy words and come up with
examples instead of saying something like "the
raising of one's eyebrows"