The association of patois and the intellectual ghetto

The association of patois and the intellectual ghetto

Friday, November 08, 2019

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Dear Editor,

I still don't believe it. From what I gather, there is a petition floating around with the objective being to have 'Jamaican recognised as an official language'

And this is the next step in a public campaign for Government and Parliament to recognise Jamaican as an official language alongside English?

Unfortunately, this is not fake news. The culprit is none other than the much-celebrated The University of the West Indies (UWI).

Now, will someone please explain to me how this will advance the fortunes of Jamaica, or its citizens, in any way? Look at how many grave issues are affecting the country and which go a-begging for want of just a modicum of attention, and this is what The UWI is preoccupied with? This is one of the premier institutions of higher learning, not just for Jamaica, but the entire Caribbean region. This is where we send our best and brightest minds. Well, maybe I should say used to, because the best and brightest minds today probably use their heads and exercise the option of going overseas. Some of what we are left with here are on exhibition in Parliament, but that is another story for another time.

Reports are that the stranglehold the recent drought had on the country has been broken, and the rest of the year should see us having adequate supplies of the precious commodity water. What I should have expected to hear from The UWI were suggestions on how to avoid its recurrence. But no, to The UWI patois is apparently of greater importance to the people of Jamaica.

No one is suggesting that patois be abandoned, as the spinners have tried to imply, but here are a few questions. How will simply declaring patois an official language affect the price of cheese? Why would there be a need to formally teach patois in school when everyone domiciled in Jamaica can speak it as soon as they learn to talk? The people who are deaf and mute probably have their own version of it as well. What qualifications will be necessary for those who will be imparting this knowledge, since untrained teachers are no longer in vogue? Wouldn't the time to be spent on teaching patois be more beneficial were it to be dumped on the English language? Is it patois or English why hundreds more of our trained educators and health practitioners will be taking up overseas job offers in 2020? Incidentally, I see we are currently having English language issues with the health professionals imported from Cuba and India.

Now when people use the words intellectual ghetto and The UWI in the same sentence what defence can I seriously offer?

Robert Mitchell,

Christiana PO


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