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Social Stratification & Language in the Modern Caribbean

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Presentation on theme: "Social Stratification & Language in the Modern Caribbean"— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Stratification & Language in the Modern Caribbean
Part II

2 Aims To explore the linguistic reality hidden behind the labels “Spanish-/English-/French-/Dutch Speaking.” To examine alternative labels which better capture the linguist reality of territories. To identify the social factors which might motivate a particular linguistic situation.

3 Territory Labels English Speaking French Speaking Spanish Speaking
Dutch Speaking What do these labels mean?

4 Territory Labels cont’d
The labels suggest that the official language of the territory is English/Spanish/French/Dutch. The language of the ultimate colonizing power.

5 The Distribution of Languages in the Caribbean
Country Official Language Mass Vernacular/Creole Other Languages Cuba Spanish - Dominican Republic Puerto Rico English

6 The Distribution cont’d
Country Off. Lang Mass Vern. Other lang. Barbados English EC Jamaica Antigua St. Kitts St. Vincent Monsterrat B&USVirgin Islands

7 The Distribution cont’d
Country Official Lang.(s) Mass Vernacular/Creole Other Languages Haiti French Creole, French French Creole - Guadeloupe French Martinique

8 The Distribution cont’d
Country Official Language Mass Vernacular/Creole Other Languages St. Lucia English FC, EC - Grenada EC FC Dominica

9 The Distribution cont’d
Country Official Language Mass Vernacular Other Languages Aruba Dutch Papiamentu E & S Bonaire English Curacao St. Maarten EC E, P & S Seba St. Eustatius

10 The Distribution cont’d
Country Official Lanugage Mass Vernacular Other Languages Guyana English EC Amerindian languages Suriname Dutch Sranan Saramaccan, Ndjuka, Javanese, Sarnami,English Trinidad FC, Spanish Bhojpuri

11 The Labels Which Better Reflect The Linguistic Realities
Continuum Diglossia Bilingualism/Multilingualism

12 Labels cont’d Labels may refer to the speech community
or the individual. Always keep in mind the De facto (factual/real) and the De Jure (legal/law) situation.

13 The Creole Continuum What is the Creole Continuum
a continuous spectrum of speech varieties ranging from the Creole to the standard language. Main levels of the continuum Acrolect (standard variety) Mesolect (intermediate varieties) Basilect (Creole)

14 The Creole Continuum cont’d
The Creole Continuum is usually used to describe the linguistic situation in Jamaica and Guyana. (Read DeCamp’s quote in Rickford 1987:18 )

15 The Creole Continuum cont’d
“Many Jamaicans and Guyanese persist in the myth that there are but two varieties: the patois and the standard. The standard is not British English (as is the claim) rather there is an evolving standard (Jamaican, Guyanese) English which is mutually intelligible with but different from the British Standard.

16 The Creole Continuum cont’d
Each speaker (Jamaican& Guyanese) commands a span of this spectrum. The breath of the span depends on: - “The breath of his/her social contacts” (DeCamp 1971:350) which among other things is informed by his/her education and the need to portray his presence in or familiarity with a particular social group (acts of identity).

17 The Creole Continuum cont’d
Guyanese e.g. “I told him” Ai told him (Acrolectal) A tel im A tel ii Mi tel am (Basilectal) (Jamaican example from H/Work)

18 The Creole Continuum cont’d
Jamaican e.g. I was walking to school Ai woz waakin tu skuul A woz a waak tu skuul mi woz a waak go skuul mi did a waak go skuul mi wehn a waak go skuul mi wehn de waak go skuul mi behn a waak go skuul mi behn de waak go skuul

19 The continuum cont’d Things to consider
What is so special about the Caribbean continuum situation? Is the continuum a social or linguistic description? How may underlying systems are were really dealing with one, two, three? Are we just speaking of diglossia anyway? Can the acrolect, mesolect and basilect be clearly isolated?

20 Diglossia The concept was developed by Ferguson (1959) and extended in its scope by Fishman (1971). A diglossic situation is one in which “there exists two separate language varieties, each with its own specific functions within the society” (Devonish, 1986:9)

21 Diglossia cont’d “A diglossic situation exists in a society when it has two distinct codes which show clear functional separation; that is one is employed in one set of circumstances and the other in an entirely different set” (Wardhaugh 1986:87)

22 Diglossia cont’d In diglossic situations the ‘High’ language variety is the one used in writing, in education, in government administrative and legal institutions, and generally in public and formal situations. “These domains are dominated by and under the control of the ruling class and their values” (Devonish 1986:9)

23 Diglossia cont’d “Diglossia is a relatively stable language situation in which, in addition to the primary dialects of the language (which may include a standard or regional standards), there is a very divergent, highly codified (often grammatically more complex) superposed variety, the vehicle of a large and respected body of written literature, either of an earlier period

24 Diglossia cont’d Or in another speech community, which is learned largely by formal education and is used for most written and formal spoken purposes but is not used by any sector of the community for ordinary conversation” (Ferguson 1959:336)

25 Diglossia cont’d The ‘Low’ variety is the one used by the mass of the population in the course of their everyday private and informal interaction, within the family, and in the various forms of popular culture. It typically involves two distinct language but may also involve dialects of the same language.

26 Defining Characteristics of Diglossia
Both varieties are kept apart functionally. The H variety is the prestige variety; L lacks prestige. H is highly codified. All children learn the L variety. H variety is usually learnt in school. L variety tends to borrow learned words from the H variety especially to express new ideas.

27 Examples of Diglossic Situations outside the Caribbean
Arabia - Classic Arabic (H) and the various colloquial varieties (L) Swiss Germany -Standard German (H )and Swiss German (L) Greece - Kataharevousa (H) Demotic (L)

28 Diglossia cont’d Haiti was once seen as the prime example of Diglossia in the Caribbean. Standard French (H) and French Creole (L) FC has been given Official status. The Speech community by law is bilingual. Most of the population is monolingual in French Creole (In light of this, consider that for diglossia to persist the individual has to command both codes) Are speakers in Haiti really diglossic?

29 Monolingualism Refers to the ability to use a single language.
The speech community and the majority of individuals can be monolingual. Example Cuba (official language is Spanish and the Mass Vernacular is Spanish) Keep in mind that in this situation individuals may be bi/multilingual.

30 Bilingualism and Multilingualism
Refers to the ability to speak more than one languages (Bi-two and Multi-multiple/several). When is a person truly bilingual? (Extremes—knows a few words cannot be differentiated from a native speaker) A bilingual speaker will switch between codes and is not necessarily restricted by speech context. Example of bilingual speech community outside the Caribbean is Canada (French and English). For e.g. of Caribbean bilingual situation consider individual/defacto situation (examine Puerto Rico which has English as an additional language in the speech community but it (English) is not official) Multilingual – Suriname, Trinidad, Curacao

31 Multilingualism outside of the Caribbean
The Tukano (live in the Northwest Amazon, on the border between Colombia and Brazil). Multilingualism is the norm in this community because men must marry outside their language group. They choose women from various tribes. After marriage the women move into the men’s households. Consequently in any village several languages are used.

32 Conclusion The key is being able to argue the extent to which the labels adequately capture the linguistic situation in the territories. ALL THE BEST!!!

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