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Jamaican Creole Texts

Peter L. Patrick


Here are collected a few texts of various sorts, at various levels of the Jamaican creole continuum. They are in different formats -- some include phonological transcription, gloss and translation, others occur in discourse transcription only, with a few features noted, etc.

Most of the ones I'll put up are ones I have gathered myself, but not all of them: for example, I have transcribed the first few lines of dialogue from Perry Henzell's 1972 movie The Harder They Come (an excellent film in terms of displaying Jamaican urban life at the start of the 1970s), and some tapes recorded by other linguists in Jamaica, e.g. the late David DeCamp.

1.     The Mango Story: a small narrative of indignation, recorded August 10, 1989 by Peter L. Patrick in Kingston.

2.     The Harder They Come: the first few minutes of dialogue from the 1972 movie, transcribed.

3.     Roasta's Harangue: part of an argument between two young men in their 20s, best friends, recorded November 9, 1989, by Peter L. Patrick from the backseat of a car driving through downtown Kingston.

4.     Anansi a Mek Grong: an Anansi story, or traditional West African-descended folktale, told June 1958 by Mr. J. D. Lewis of Belmont, Portland JA, to David DeCamp, who recorded it (transcription by Peter L. Patrick).

5.     Shootout in the Barbershop: a danger-of-death narrative set in the political violence of Jamaica's 1980 election year; recorded November 12, 1989, by Peter L. Patrick in a working-class 'yard' in East Kingston.

6.     Sweet and Dandy: the classic Maytals song, a portrait of a Jamaican country wedding.

Some of the speakers above are featured in my book,

Urban Jamaican Creole: Variation in the Mesolect

A few Jamaican proverbs are at the CACOEU (Caribbean Communities In Europe) site, here. Other sources of Jamaican proverbs include:

Anderson, Izett, & Frank Cundall. 1927. Jamaican Negro proverbs and sayings. Kingston: The Institute of Jamaica.

Beckwith, Martha Warren. 1929. Black roadways: A study of Jamaican folk life. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Cassidy, Frederic G. 1961. Jamaica Talk: Three hundred years of the English language in Jamaica. London: Macmillan & Co.

Maxwell, Ken. 1981. How to speak Jamaican. Kingston: Christopher Issa.

Watson, G. Llewellyn. 1991. Jamaican Sayings: With notes on Folklore, Aesthetics and Social Control. Tallahassee FL: Florida A&M University Press. (Reviewed by PL Patrick in Journal of Piudgin and Creole Languages 9(1):182-7.)

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Last updated 03 June 2004