American Virgin Islands Creole, American Indian words in Louisiana, DIALECT SPEAKERS, IRISH AMERICAN
VERNAULAR, African American Vernacular, AAVE, Dialect, Creole, Patois, Pidgin, ESL
About That Song You’ve Heard, Kumbaya
- When did Kumbaya become such a bad thing?
- Come by here [ Creole speakers Cum by ya ] Kumbya explained by Pete Seeger
- A Long Road From ‘Come by here’ to ‘Kumbaya’
Nearing 40 and nearly broke, ousted from his last job as an English professor, a folklore buff named
Robert Winslow Gordon set out in the spring of 1926 from his temporary home on the Georgia seacoast,
lugging a hand-cranked cylinder recorder and searching for songs in the nearby black hamlets.
Everyone speaks something, everyone, even though some folks don’t think they
with a dialect, everyone does,” said Audrey Jaeger, one of the co-directors of Educating the Educated
and professor of higher education and alumni distinguished graduate professor in the Department of
Educational Leadership. A lot of internal collaboration between departments in NC State happens in
support of Educating the Educated.
Cajun heritage "Louisiana is where I am from. Louisiana is who I am.
Louisiana is what I do." Lucius A. Fontenot is
native of Louisiana and based in Lafayette. His work focuses on the cultures, traditions, foodways,
ephemera, people and geography of Louisiana
Linguistic Profiling, AfricanAmerican English Origin, Gullah
Do You Speak American?
- 1643, from Fr. patois "native or local speech," from O.Fr. patoier "handle clumsily,
to paw," from pate "a paw," from V.L. *patta, perhaps imitative of the sound made by a
Creole- 1697, from Fr. creole, from Sp. criollo "person native to a
locality," from Port. crioulo, dim. of cria "person (especially a servant) raised in
house," from criar "to raise or bring up," from L. creare "to produce,
Originally with no connotation of color or race; Fowler (1926) writes: "Creole does not imply
mixture of race, but denotes a person either of European or (now rarely) of negro descent born and
naturalized in certain West Indian and American countries."
Pidgin - 1876, from pigeon English (1859), the reduced form of the language
used in China for communication with Europeans, from pigeon, itself a pidgin word, representing a
Chinese pronunciation of business. Meaning extended 1921 to "any simplified language." source
PIDIGINS, CREOLES and other Stigmatized Varieties Copyright David Sutcliff used with permission.
A pidgin is a new language which develops in situations where speakers of different languages
need to communicate but don't share a common language. The vocabulary of a pidgin comes
mainly from one particular language (called the "lexifier"). The early
is quite restricted in use and variable in structure. But the later "stable pidgin" develops
its own grammatical rules which are quite different from those of the lexifier. Once a stable pidgin
emerged, it is generally learned as a second language and used for communication among people who
different languages. Examples are Nigerian Pidgin and Bislama (spoken in Vanuatu).
When children start learning a pidgin as their first language and it becomes the mother tongue of
community, it is called a creole. Like a pidgin, a creole is a distinct language which has taken
of its vocabulary fromanother language, the lexifier, but has its own unique grammatical rules.
Unlike a pidgin, however, a creole is not restricted in use, and is like any other language in its
range of functions.
Examples are Gullah, Jamaican Creole and Hawaii Creole
Caroline speaking Gullah and English
Note that the words "pidgin" and "creole" are technical terms used by linguists,
and not necessarily by speakers of the language. For example, speakers of Jamaican Creole call their
language "patwa" (from patois) and speakers of Hawai'i Creole English call theirs
"Pidgin." Note that the words "pidgin" and "creole" are technical terms
used by linguists, and not necessarily by speakers of the language. For example, speakers of Jamaican
Creole call their language "patwa" (from patois) and speakers of Hawai'i Creole English
call theirs "Pidgin.
Contact Englishes of the Eastern Caribbean , John Benjamins, Varieties of English Around the
Reviewed by Ken Decker 2003, SIL International
''Contact Englishes of the Eastern Caribbean'' is a collection of papers by various
authors with focus on Anglophone Eastern Caribbean territories. More specifically, it is the editors
interest in varieties that have received little attention in published linguistic research. It is the
state goal of the editors, ''simply to stimulate more field-based linguistic research and, more
specifically, fieldwork in neglected Anglophone areas of the Americas in order to broaden our base of
knowledge about these language varieties.'' The papers cover a wide variety of language related
topics, including: syntax, phonology, historical linguistics, dialectology, sociolinguistics,
In 2002, Aceto published an article listing research that has been published about each of the
Caribbean Creoles, including varieties further north, such as Afro- Seminole and Bermuda. One of the
purposes of that article was to highlight the territories for which there was little or no publication
linguistic research. This is a concern that I have shared, so I was anticipating the arrival of this new
volume. Too often, I have heard implied, and even explicitly stated, that since Jamaican and Guyanese
been thoroughly studied, we know everything about variation in Caribbean Creole Englishes. There is much
more to learn through these other varieties. I also believe that they are languages worthy of academic
To this end, several of the chapters in this book provide information on varieties for which there
been no previous linguistic publication, for example: Turks and Caicos, Barbuda, and Anguilla.
''English in the Turks and Caicos Islands: A look at Grand Turk'', by Cecilia Cutler,
a very welcome presentation of the first linguistic research on the speech of the Turks and Caicos
Islands. This chapter gives a nice overview of historical information describing the development of
speech, an introduction to basic phonological features, a brief description of the TMA (tense, mood,
aspect) structure of the verb phrase, and a few clause features.
The discussion in many of the other chapters involves innovative research topics that have received
little previous attention. For example, Jeffrey Williams's chapter concerning a white community on
Anguilla includes both innovative research and gives description of a territory for which there has
no published linguistic research. For several years Williams, one of the editors of this volume, has
studied the speech of white West Indian communities. (For example see Williams 1984 and 1986.) His
interest is in the speech of whites with which slaves would have had contact during the time of creole
development. His chapter, titled ''The establishment and perpetuation of Anglophone white
enclave communities in the Eastern Caribbean: The case of Island Harbour, Anguilla'', presents
the history of a white English-speaking community and reveals linguistic features that mark the
as having a unique identity. Unfortunately, the speech of the black Anguillan community remains
The speech varieties in focus in most of the other chapters have received only little attention from
linguists. As pointed out by Aceto in his 2002 article, the speeches of some of the Caribbean
territories have had more publications, while possibly not linguistic attention. For example, there
been numerous articles published on the folklore of the Bahamas, but less on linguistic description.
Helean McPhee, in her chapter titled ''The grammatical features of TMA auxiliaries in Bahamian
Creole'', presents a thorough description of the TMA structure of Bahamian Creole. Another
chapter on the Bahamas is by Becky Childs, Jeffrey Reaser and Walt Wolfram, titled ''Defining
ethnic varieties in the Bahamas: Phonological accommodation in black and white enclave
communities''. The research described in this chapter uses phonological data to investigate
ethnic identification between two Bahamian communities on the island of Abaco: Sandy Point, a black
community, and Cherokee Sound, a white community. Their use of phonological data for studying
sociolinguistic accommodation is interesting and well presented. However, I felt that more description
of the sociolinguistic evidence of accommodation would have been helpful to confirm their
of the phonological data.
Another kind of English contact environment addressed in the volume is that found on Dominica and St.
Lucia. Both Dominica and St. Lucia were originally populated by speakers of French Creoles. The
were ceded to Britain in 1763 and 1814 respectively, and institutions, most importantly education,
shifted to English. Discussing the situation on Dominica, Beverley Bryan and Rosalind Burnette's
chapter is titled ''Language variation and language use among teachers in Dominica''.
Its purpose is to describe a study of teacher's knowledge and awareness of language varieties on
Dominica. However, as background for understanding the environment in which their study was conducted,
the chapter is largely a compilation of previously published material describing the multilingual
environment of the island. Much of the data comes from Christie (1982, 1983, 1987). Christie (1983:22)
refers to the English variety of Dominica as a creole. Similarly, Le Page (1977:109) described a
''creolized English'' on St. Lucia. Paul B. Garrett's chapter presents
for St. Lucia, which is similar to the Dominica situation.
In ''An ''English Creole'' that isn't: On the sociohistorical origins and
linguistic classification of the vernacular English of St. Lucia'', Garrett questions whether
not there is a variety of English on St. Lucia that can truly be described as a creole. The same
question can be raised for Dominica. Taken as a unit these two chapters describe an interesting
development among two creoles. Initially, through contact in the domain of the classroom, the Creole
Frenches were relexified with English but maintained creole syntactic structures. Garrett considers a
wide variety of information that might be relevant for defining the speech as a creole. The definition
of 'creole' seems to be a perpetual problem. The editors, in the introduction, note a
need on the part of many of the authors to define how they use the term 'creole'. To me, this
was a tiring aspect of reading this volume. Others who find this a pressing issue will undoubtedly
appreciate the complexity of the situation on St. Lucia and Dominica, and its usefulness for this
concern. \ While I do not necessarily agree with Garrett's argument, like St. Lucian Vernacular
English, I would not consider Dominican Vernacular English (DVE) a creole on other grounds. My
observation, during a recent visit to Dominica, is that there is not a unified or standardized DVE
speech that could be linguistically described and would be typify by any group of speakers. There is a
multitude of forms used by as many individual speakers. It is a very unstable linguistic situation and
the 'community' is trying to move towards some other shared speech. In creole-speaking
communities, there are certain social domains in which the creole has a recognized important cultural
role. Those who speak the various forms of DVE have no sentimental attachment to their speech. The
multitude of forms referred to as DVE do not serve any such cultural role. The 'community' is
pulled between those with sentiments for restoration of the French Creole and the inevitable political
and economic force of English hegemony. The forms of DVE could be described as simply the speech of
unsuccessful learners of standard English. Students who are successful in language learning do not
anything resembling a relexified French Creole.
The definition of creole varieties is taken up in another chapter. Michael Aceto, one of the editors
this volume, uses a first description of Barbudan Creole as a basis for proposing a new typology for
Caribbean creoles in ''What are Creole languages? An alternative approach to the Anglophone
Atlantic world with special emphasis on Barbudan Creole English.'' Both the new information on
Barbudan and a creative approach to generalizations about creole languages will be useful to other
''Barbadian lects: Beyond meso'', by Gerard van Herk, is another chapter that
creolist definitions. He also looks at an extensive list of reported Bajan creole syntactic features,
and comments on evidence of their use in his data. Certain features are found in the speech of young
Bajans when trying to sound more Bajan. He describes this as ''constructed dialect''.
However, Bajan is hardly a ''neglected Anglophone area'', Aceto 2002 lists over twenty
publications on this speech.
Another chapter that deals with well-documented varieties is David Sutcliffe's ''Eastern
Caribbean suprasegmental systems: A comparative view with particular reference to Barbadian,
Trinidadian, and Guyanese''. While not discussing any lesser-known creoles, the research
explores an academic area that has had minimal attention among creolists. This research describes
and intonational patterns found in Caribbean creoles and their relationship to tonal patterns in some
A different type of research problem is taken up by Robin Sabino, Mary Diamond and Leah Cockcroft in
their chapter, ''Language variety in the Virgin Islands: Plural marking''. Not that
plural marking is particularly troublesome, but the authors use this data to explore the effect of
audience on production. The so-called 'observers paradox' is a particularly troublesome aspect
of fieldwork. The authors also look at diachronic change in plural marking.
The most unusual chapter in this volume is Joan M. Fayer's ''The Carriacou Shakespeare
Mas': Linguistic creativity in a Creole community.'' This chapter looks at the influence
a traditional cultural celebration from literary English used in the schools. Another chapter,
''Creole English on Carriacou: A sketch and some implications'' by Ronald Kephart,
presents a more linguistically descriptive approach. This chapter presents a brief introduction
syntactic features of Carriacou Creole English. Unfortunately, both of these chapters only present
previously published information. See Fayer and McMurray 1999, and Kephart 2000.
This volume covers a wide variety of linguistic concerns and introduces data on many Caribbean
varieties that have received little linguistic interest. This collection should be welcomed by all
linguists who study is in the Anglophone Caribbean. There are chapters that will also be of interest
grammarians, phonologists, anthropologists, and sociologists. My only criticism of the volume would be
that some of the chapters didn't include enough data to totally convince me of the authors
Finally, I would like to retell an event related by Kephart in this volume: ''A Grenadian
physician, after listening to me describe my goal of discovering the grammar rules for Carriacou
asked if I had thought about the political ramifications: according to him, if I was able to show that
CCE [Carriacou Creole English] had its own grammar, then I would have proven that those who speak it
real human beings, and should be treated accordingly.''
This is the deepest value of what is accomplished when attention is given to languages that have been
ignored. As was the intention of the editors, I hope that this volume will serve to stimulate more
research in languages, creole or other, that have received little or no academic attention. We can
hope that the work of academics will help the people whom they study.
Aceto, Michael. 2002. Going Back to the Beginning: Describing the (Nearly) Undocumented Anglophone
Creoles of the Caribbean. In G. Gilbert (ed.) Pidgin and Creole Linguistics in the Twenty-First
New York: Peter Lang.
Christie, Pauline. 1982. ''Language Maintenance and language shift in Dominica.''
Caribbean Quarterly 28:41-50.
--. 1983. ''In search of the boundaries of Caribbean creoles.'' In L. Carrington,
(in collaboration with D. Craig and R. Todd-Dandar) Studies in Caribbean Language. St. Augustine,
Trinidad: Society for Caribbean Linguistics. 13-22.
--. 1987. ''Dominica: A Sociolinguistic Profile.'' Working Papers in Linguistics.
Mona: Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy, 50-73.
Fayer, Joan and Joan McMurray. 1999. The Carriacou Mas' as ''Syncretic Artifact''.
Journal of American Folklore 112(443):58-73.
Kephart, Ronald. 2000. Broken English. The Creole Language of Carriacou. New York:Peter Lang.
Le Page, Robert. 1977. ''De-creolization and re- creolization: A preliminary report on the
sociolinguistic survey of multilingual communities Stage II: St. Lucia.'' York Papers in
Linguistics 7: 107-128.
Williams, Jeffrey. 1984. White Saban English: a socio- historical description. The University of
Austin. Unpublished Master's thesis.
--. 1986. The forgotten Caribbean: the sociolinguistic histories of the white peasantries in the
Anglophone and francophone Caribbean. Post-doctoral proposal prepared for the Program in Atlantic
History, Culture, and Society. The John Hopkins University.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Ken Decker is a sociolinguistic consultant for SIL International. He has studied Caribbean Creole
languages for about 12 years. He is also interested in language vitality and language development
* LITERACY AND DIALECT SPEAKERS
"The failure of inner-city schools to teach children to read is among the most serious social
problems that our country faces."
-- Dr. William Lobov
Professor of Linguistics and Psychology [p] 215.898.4912
Director of the Linguistics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania.