Letters to the Editor

Don't put patois in school curriculum

Monday, April 02, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

Missa Todd firs' mi (William Todd in his letter published on March 29), but mi still gwine talk up di tings dem.

I am in full agreement with Mr Todd's assessment of the controversy surrounding the use of our local dialect - patois. I am also happy that he lends credence to his argument with the fact that he is an English teacher who has taught in several countries in which a local dialect is spoken alongside an official standard language.

I have never been able to appreciate the efforts of those of my countrymen who find it necessary to defend patois by distinguishing it as a totally different language, rather than accepting it for what it really is, that is, an English dialect much the same as the English cockney or American deep South. So why do we need to "legitimise" it by teaching it in schools or pretending that our students, who are proficient in its use, are unable to understand Standard English? Show me one Jamaican child who is unable to understand the programmes on cable television because the language used is Standard English, and maybe I'll concede.

Until then, I say, let us celebrate the use of patois (which we all naturally speak) in all its glory in our various local social settings, but not add it to the already burdensome school curriculum, nor attempt to translate official texts into that dialect. I submit that our efforts at improving literacy are best spent elsewhere rather than in cutting off wi nose fi spite wi face.

Kalean Mills-Bellamy






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