Of creoles and other “undignified” speaks…

Being from the Caribbean, I unavoidably grew up in a place with more than one register. There’s the queen’s English, then there’s broken English or more particularly, Trinidadian English, which isn’t a standardised form of usage of the English language. Rules are rules. So, how come we find so may snatches of one language buried so deeply into the culture of another that the users of the language don’t even know the actual origin of the words they use? A perfect example is one that I heard from a friend of mine of African language influencing our Trinidadian creole. Who knew that obzokee, meaning funny looking, is of African origin? Or yampee is the mucus that collects at the corner of your eyes. Or a sou sou, which is a system of saving where all members pay installments of a sum of money over a period of time and during this allotted time, one person receives the entire sum or their “hand” in turns until the time runs out and everyone has paid and received their lump sum. Not even that “It making hot” is a literal translation of how you would say, “it is hot” in french or Spanish? Our Trinidadian french creole is not quite dead but it’s probably almost there.

I was inspired by a blog post about Quechua language, an indigenous tongue in danger of extinction in south America, but was once spoken during the golden age of the Inca Empire. There is what you might call an attempt at revival of Quechua, if in only a small scale on the internet. But alive or dead, isn’t any language one in it’s own right? If the Jamaican people can have the bible translated into patois, well, I say my creole is as good as theirs. As language is alive and evolves faster than we do, or maybe at the same pace to be fair, I think it’s reasonable to give every tongue the recognition is deserves where expression and culture flavour it and temper it’s meanings.


~ by louella001 on September 8, 2011.

5 Responses to “Of creoles and other “undignified” speaks…”

  1. These languages are related. There are many versions of “africanized” languages – english, french, spanish, and even dutch in Suriname. We africans put our spin on each of these languages, and to the extent that we who were enslaved were able to maintain our africaness, is how much similarity we will find with our patios and African languages. Check out what Dr. Lisa J. Green says about African American “patois”. The Gullah Geechee blacks of South Carolina USA were isolated for decades and kept the most Africanisms, and their language is most like other patois
    Afr Am patois and it’s similarities to all black patois.

    There’s also a wonderful little book by L. Emilie Adams, Understanding Jamaican Patois

    What was so intriguing about this book was her comparisons of Haitian, Jamaican and other black patois. It seems that we black folks will force certain Africanism of grammar on whatever euro language we speak. This IS the patois. In patois, we conjugate verbs the same way, no matter if it’s french patois, english patois, dutch or spanish patois!!

  2. Ooops! Here’s a link to
    Dr. Lisa Green

  3. […] https://louella001.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/of-creoles-and-other-undignified-speaks/ Rate this: Share this:TwitterEmailFacebookStumbleUponMorePrintDiggRedditLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  4. […] Of creoles and other “undignified” speaks… (louella001.wordpress.com) […]

  5. Reblogged this on Blah-Blah-Blah-Blah Blog and commented:
    I would feel an equal thrill on the tongue when saying “Me gwan fill ma belly” and “methinks I shall find sustenance.” OK, I don’t say either unless chatting with close friends, but the former statement is a dart to the bull’s-eye of my desire to satiate my appetite. When *tings* get primal — be the desire for food, water, sex, inner peace or safe shelter (in any sequence but nevertheless linked to survival) — my mind-spirit connects to Mamma Africa, no matter how mixed my ancestry and no matter how Eurocentric my primary and secondary educational experiences.

    Thus, I urge (with the pronunciation “uhhhje”) you all to read blogger louella001’s essay, below, on Black people’s *speaks*.

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