British Afro-Caribbean English:
Compiled by Peter L. Patrick
What’s Here, and What’s Not:
list includes works on the rise of Creole-influenced speech among British-born
and/or -raised speakers of West Indian background in
Names and Labels:
variety has been called ‘British Black English’ (e.g. Sutcliffe 1982), but some
authors have questioned the generality of this name; others have described ‘London
Jamaican’ (e.g. Sebba 1993), but it is obviously spoken outside of
There is no close relation between BrACE (=‘British Black English’) and US African American English (AAE, aka ‘Black English’ or ‘Ebonics’). The former is derived directly from Caribbean English-related creoles within the last 50 years, and contact with speakers of AAE is an incidental, individual-level phenomenon (though there is some cultural influence of music, film, style, etc.). BrACE (like Jamaican Creole – both are often called ‘Patois’ or ‘Patwa’) is accepted by the science of linguistics as a language, and ought to be respected for its integrity. It needs to be said, however, that not all Britons of Afro-Caribbean heritage speak it, while there may be people of other heritage who do -- in particular, West Indians of e.g. Chinese or Indian background, or their children. Also, BrACE must be distinguished from the (very interesting) parody speech of entertainers such as Ali G, who build on existing stereotypes for effect (see Sebba 2003b below).
Bones, Jah. 1986. Language and Rastafari. In Sutcliffe & Wong, eds., 37-51. [A brief outline of the Rastafari movement in Britain, followed by a folk-linguistic view of Rasta Talk and the Word-Sound-Power concept.]
Bottomley, K. 1996. An evaluation of
language policies relating to the use of Creole in the classroom. Unpublished BSc
(Honours) dissertation, Department of Geographical and Environmental Sciences,
Bourhis, Richard and Howard Giles.
1976. The language of cooperation in
Bourhis, Richard and Howard Giles.
1977. Children’s voices and ethnic categorization in
Bourhis, Richard and Donald Taylor.
Towards a theory of language in ethnic group relations. In Howard Giles, ed., Language,
ethnicity and intergroup relations, 307-349.
Breinburg, Petronella. 1986. Language attitudes: The case of Caribbean language. In Sutcliffe & Wong, eds., 136-148. [A quantitative, social-psychological analysis of correlation between ‘language perception’ and ‘person perception’, based on a study of 42 teachers in three inner-London schools, using structured interviews. Language perception appeared to depend on person perception. Teachers’ acceptance of negative-attitude statements to Black children’s language appeared to correlate inversely with the size of the Black school population. Negative and stereotyped attitudes predominated.]
Cassidy, Frederic G. and Rober B. Le
Page, eds. 1967 (2nd ed.1980). Dictionary
of Jamaican English.
Dalphinis, Morgan. 1991. The
Afro-English creole speech community. In
Edwards, Viv. 1976. West Indian language and comprehension. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Reading. [Includes attitude and matched-guise studies comparing West Indian to white working- and middle-class children’s speech, as judged by both children and teachers in Reading.]
Edwards, Viv. 1979. The West Indian language issue in British
schools: Challenges and responses.
Edwards, Viv. 1981. Patterns of language use in the Black British community. English World-wide 2(2): 154-164.
Edwards, Viv. 1986. Language in a
Black community. Clevedon,
Giles, Howard and Richard Bourhis. 1976.
Voice and racial categorization in
Giles, Howard. 1977. Language,
ethnicity and intergroup relations.
Gilroy, Paul. 1987. There ain't no Black in the Union Jack.
Hewitt, Roger. 1982. White adolescent Creole users and the politics of friendship. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 3(3): 217-232.
Hewitt, Roger. 1986. White talk, Black talk.
Hewitt, Roger. 1989. Creole in the
classroom: Political grammars and educational vocabularies. In R. Grillo, ed., Social
anthropology and the politics of language.
Le Page, Robert B. and
Tabouret-Keller, Andrée. 1985. Acts of
Local, John K., William H.G. Wells and Mark Sebba. 1985. Phonology for conversation: Phonetic aspects of turn delimitation in London Jamaican. Journal of Pragmatics 9(2): 309-330.
Mair, Christian. 2003. Language, code and symbol: The changing roles of Jamaican creole in diaspora communities. In Christian Mair, ed., Interactional sociolinguistics and cultural studies. Thematic issue of Arbeiten aus Anglistik und Amerikanistik 28(2):231-248. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.
Mühleisen, Susanne. 2002. Creole discourse: Exploring prestige formation and
Pütz, Martin. 1987. Kommunikation im anglo-karibischen Gottesdienstritual. Eine ethnosemiotische Perspektive. Frankfurt: Verlag Peter Lang.
Pütz, Martin. 1989. British Jamaican English: The impact of ideology. In Martin Pütz & René Dirven, eds., Wheels within wheels: Papers of the Duisburg symposium on Pidgin and Creole Languages. Frankfurt: Verlag Peter Lang, 179-205.
Rampton, M. Ben. 1995. Crossing: Language and ethnicity among
Rampton, M. Ben. 1998. Language crossing and the redefinition of reality. In
Peter Auer, ed., Code-switching in
Reichl, Susanne. 2002. Cultures in
the contact zone: Ethnic semiosis in Black British literature.
Richmond, John. 1986. The language of Black children and the language debate in schools. In Sutcliffe & Wong, eds., 123-35.
Rosen, H. and T. Burgess. 1980. Languages
and dialects of
Sebba, Mark. 1986. London Jamaican and Black London English. In Sutcliffe and Wong, eds., 149-167.
Sebba, Mark. 1993.
Sebba, Mark. 1995. Creole in
Sebba, Mark. 1996. How do you spell Patwa? Critical Quarterly 38(4): 50-63.
Sebba, Mark. 1997. Contact
languages: Pidgins and Creoles.
Sebba, Mark. 1998a. Phonology meets ideology: The meaning of orthographic practices in British Creole. Language Problems and Language Planning 22(1): 19-47.
Sebba, Mark. 1998b. Meaningful
choices in Creole orthography: ‘Experts’ and users. Text of invited keynote
paper at colloquium on “Meaningful choices in language,”
Sebba, Mark. 2000a. What is ‘mother
tongue’? Some problems posed by London Jamaican. In T. Acton and M. Dalphinis,
eds., Language, Blacks and Gypsies: Languages without a written tradition and
their role in education, 109-121.
Sebba, Mark. 2000b. ‘Writing
switching’ in British Creole. In K. Jones and M. Martin-Jones eds., Multilingual literacies:
Sebba, Mark. 2002. Creole English and Black English. On Sebba’s British Creole Resources site. [An A-level unit of instruction created by Sebba, it contains background on Creole varieties, grammatical and phonological characteristics, and exercises for students.]
Sebba, Mark. 2003a. Spelling
rebellion. In J. Androutsopoulos
and A. Georgakopoulou, eds., Discourse
constructions of youth identities, 151-172.
Sebba, Mark. 2003b. Will the real impersonator please stand up? Language and identity in the Ali G websites. In Christian Mair, ed., Interactional sociolinguistics and cultural studies. Thematic issue of Arbeiten aus Anglistik und Amerikanistik 28(2): 279-304. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.
Sebba, Mark. Fc 2004. British Creole
morphology and syntax. To appear in A handbook
of varieties of English. Vol 2: Morphology and syntax, ed. Bernd
Kortmann, Edgar W Schneider, Clive Upton, Rajend Mesthrie &
Kate Burridge. (Topics in
English Linguistics, ed. Bernd Kortmann & Elizabeth Closs Traugott.)
Sebba, Mark, Sally Kedge and Susan
Dray. 1999. The Corpus of Written British
Creole: A user’s guide. Online at www.ling.lancs.ac.uk/staff/mark/cwbc/cwbcman.htm.
Sebba, Mark and Shirley Tate. 1986. ‘You know what I mean?’ Agreement marking in British Black English. Journal of Pragmatics 10: 163-172.
Sebba, Mark and Shirley Tate. 2002. ‘Global’ and ‘local’ identities in the discourses of British-born Caribbeans. International Journal of Bilingualism 6(1): 75-89.
Sebba, Mark and A.J. Wootton. 1998.
We, they and identity: Sequential vs. identity-related explanation in
code-switching. In Peter Auer, ed., Code-switching
in conversation, 262-289.
Straw, Michelle and Peter L. Patrick.
Fc. Dialect acquisition of glottal variation in /t/: Barbadians in
Straw, Michelle and Peter
L. Patrick. 2003. Variation in
glottalisation of (t) in Ipswich. Unpublished conference paper
delivered to NWAVE-32 conference, 9-12 October 2003,
Sutcliffe, David. 1978. The language of first and second generation West Indian children in Bedfordshire. Unpublished M.Ed. thesis, University of Leicester.
Sutcliffe, David. 1982. British Black English.
Sutcliffe, David & Carol Tomlin. 1986. The Black churches. In Sutcliffe & Wong, eds., 15-31. [A brief description of Caribbean Pentecostal churches in Britain, with ethnographic description of the speech events in the service, and comments on the use of Creole and English.]
Sutcliffe, David and Ansel Wong, eds.
1986. The language of the Black
experience. Cultural expression through word and sound in the Caribbean and
Sutcliffe, David with John Figueroa.
1992. System in Black language.
Tate, Shirley. 1984. Jamaican Creole
approximation by second-generation Dominicans? The use of agreement tokens.
Unpublished M.A. thesis, Department of Language and Linguistics,
Wells, John C. 1973. Jamaican pronunciation in London.
James, and R.A. Norris. 1970. Teaching English to West Indian children: The
research stage of the project. Schools Council Working Paper 29.
Willis, Lerleen. 1999. Bilingualism
in African-Caribbean young people in
Willis, Lerleen. 2002. Language use
and identity among African-Caribbean young people in
Wong, Ansel. 1986. Creole as a language of power and solidarity. In Sutcliffe & Wong, eds., 109-122.
Wright, Fiona J. 1984. A
sociolinguistic study of passivization amongst black adolescents in
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