Jamaican English

Jamaican English, or Standard Jamaican English, is the variety of English spoken by more than 2 mio speakers of English in Jamaica. It is the official language of Jamaica, recognised by the constitution, and used in all official domains. Jamaican English developed parallel to Jamaican Creole after the British had taken over the island from the Spanish in 1655 as the colony’s economy was mainly based on large sugar plantations which relied on slaves from West Africa as their labour force. Due to the continued coexistence of Jamaican Creole and English, a linguistic continuum has developed, which ranges between a broad or basilectal variety of Jamaican Creole to an acrolectal variety of Jamaican English. Before Jamaica reached its political independence from Britain in 1962, the most acrolectal variety had been a standard form of British English. More recently, this exogenous standard has been replaced with an emerging regional standard variety, as can be seen in studies such as Sand (1999) on morpho-syntactic and lexical features or Irvine (2008) on the pronunciation of Jamaican English.

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