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Accept patois for what it is

Wednesday, September 05, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

If I were a lawyer and patois was a client I would say on behalf of my client, "Mi deh ya fi tan, mi nah go no weh so all who deh try get rid a mi, wake up."

I am yet to understand why so many Jamaicans are trying to get rid of their native language with the hope of replacing it with that of others. Whether we want to accept it or not, patois is here to stay because it is who we are. We will never get rid of it, not even when it is mandated by all schools or society at large.

Patois is who we are. As some say, it is a syncopated version of the English language. Truth be told, it is our official language.

In a recent article, the author mentioned that patois would never gain widespread acceptance because Jamaica does not have any political or economic power. Creole that the Haitians speak is accepted worldwide as the native tongue of Haiti. As patois is a syncopated version of English, so is creole a syncopated version of French. I guess he didn't know that. The Haitians do not speak proper French any better than we speak proper English, but their language is accepted worldwide. As we know, Haiti does not have any economic or political power, so I guess his statement needs to be retracted. I can list dozens of other countries that use what he calls a syncopated version of the original, yet their version is accepted worldwide. The only people that have a problem with our patois are Jamaicans, not the world at large.

Jamaicans need to accept patois for what it is. We have a problem accepting who we are as Jamaicans and that is why Jamaica is in the condition it is. We tend to try too much to be like others, instead of just simply being who we are. Our children are bleaching themselves to look like others, our culture is being railroaded by others because our radio stations and other media outlets seem to put that of others over their own.

When we finally accept patois for what it is, then and only then will our children start achieving passing grades in English; you can mark my words on that one. There is no way you can deny who you are and then expect to be successful at becoming something else. You must first embrace who you are, and if change is needed then it will come gradually. If English was to be our first language, we wouldn't have to go to school to learn it. It would have come as naturally as patois came to us.

Please don't get me wrong, I am not saying we shouldn't learn the Queen's precious language, but it must never be done at the cost of who we are as a people. We must first embrace patois and accept it for what it is - our native tongue - and then add English as a second language. To do otherwise is a waste of time because, as my client would say, "Mi deh ya fi tan, mi no plan fi go nuh weh, try oono best, but oono nah get rid a mi."

Brian O Lynch

briano.lynch@yahoo.com

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