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Local "dialect" vs "language"  

 

East Ender
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March 20, 2007 10:23 pm  

Here is some information on English Creole for newcomers and old timers alike! http://www.stjohntradewindsnews.com//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1251&Itemid=38


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STT Resident
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March 20, 2007 10:36 pm  

Good article and fun to read, Now I goin 'to come back (translation in this context, "I'm going off the forum but will be back in a while..." ) Cheers!


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DL
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March 22, 2007 1:41 am  

Also, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Islands_Creole


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smilekl
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March 22, 2007 6:14 pm  

oh, that's really interesting and will be fun to hear when my husband and I move to STT soon. We're from South Louisiana, and there are TONS of creole speakers here. It's different, I'm sure, because it's a combination of French and English, but it is definitely fun to watch "new-comers" try to understand it all.

I thought it was interesting to note that creole speakers here in Louisiana don't use the "being verbs" (am, is was, etc.) either. They usually substitute a pronoun. "My mama she at the store."

Are there any other words that a "newby" should know. Here, many people get offended because they don't know what "Sha" means and everyone will call you that. But it just means sweetie or baby. I've seen many females get mad or confused because someone will say, "Hey, sha, come see" meaning hey, sweetie, come here.


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Betty
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March 22, 2007 6:39 pm  

I don't think you'd offend anyone by not knowing what local words mean, but there are definitely local words for different things. Like shanty is usually a covered bus stop....gongalo is a millipede and so on. The hardest part for most is just being able to follow people with thick local accents. Sometimes it takes years or sometimes a month or so. Then again I did feel like I was offending people when I first came and just could not understand what they were saying and would nicely ask them to repeat themselves again and sometimes again and again. 😉


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Trade
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March 22, 2007 8:55 pm  

It's not dialect but if you haven't seen anyone in a while & you've put on a few pounds, you'll be told you got fat. That's not an insult, by the way if you were deemed too thin before. It's usually followed by how good you look.


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Sherry
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March 23, 2007 8:35 am  

Wow - that explained the dialect a little to me. I've been here a few weeks and often have trouble understanding what is being said to me.

I especially liked the part "Creole speakers do use their unique language to their advantage when they don’t want others to understand what they are saying, explained Sprauve." I've mentioned to my husband that I feel like this is happening at work to me right from my very first day of work.

I'd had an idea that they left words out, just didn't know what words. Thanks for posting the link!


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East Ender
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March 23, 2007 10:34 am  

My perspective, and that of many linguists, is that Creole English is not just a dialect of standard English. It does have differences in phonology (sounds)- the first one people usually notice is the use of the sound "t" for "th" (and "d" for the voiced "th"), eg. "tree" for "three." However, as the article points out, there are variations in morphology, syntax and semantics that can make a sentence unintelligible to someone who is unfamiliar with the rules.

I brought this up because of recent posts here about teachers and the difficulty understanding students. The use of Creole English has become politicized. I think that it is unfortunate. This is the language that most Virgin Islanders learn in the home and speak in common use. However, many of the rules make it difficult for them to read and write in standard English. And that makes higher education difficult. In Jamaica, some want to teach standard English as a second language. If we can stop looking at one being wrong and one being right, we would be much better off, IMHO.

Sherry, most Virgin Islanders are proud of their language. If you can find a co-worker to help you understand the sentences you hear, you will have fun learning and they will have fun 'splainin' tings to yoh, meh son. It is a wonderfully rich language.


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jane
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March 23, 2007 1:40 pm  

EE, good point. Most of us use "colloquial" language at home, with peers etc. We do however morph into 'formal speak" when required to.
Neither is good or bad, they just are variations on a theme. I would like to see formal, business (call it what you will) taught in schools as a tool for survival in the bigger world. Many young Virgin Islanders leave to go Stateside and need to be understood by the population at large.
I could never support the replacement of one by the other. It would be a loss at a deep cultural level.
This is a worldwide thing - my family moved to Wales before I was born and when the locals wanted to communicate for their ears only, they switched to Welsh and my poor mother was firmly excluded. C'est la vie.
While my daughter was at Central, she picked up the local Cruzan dialect..i think that was a positive thing for her.


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Linda J
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March 23, 2007 2:48 pm  

I think is very much like speaking English to some one who doesn't speak your native Spanish but switching back when speaking to another Spanish speaker.

I often have people speak more slowly when talking to me who then speed up when speaking to someone else.


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Islander
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March 23, 2007 9:19 pm  

Hello,

Good article. Just a quick note, I find that the creole and accent on St. Thomas is different than that on St. Croix. I can speak/understand the creole on STT but I have found myself a few times when speaking with a Crucian having to ask 'wha-u-say'. 😉 Also there are many residents in the USVI from other islands of the Caribbean so there are other accents and creoles that exists.

--Islander


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East Ender
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March 23, 2007 9:23 pm  

Also, the Tortolan accent is pretty distinct, as in. "Ah wan me wedge-a-tables!" 😀


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terry
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March 25, 2007 1:42 pm  

A waitress on STX told me that here they have a Danish background to their language, while in STT they have a more British background.
She said in STX they didn,t use Creloe.
I don't have the slighest idea, I just have to take her word. 🙂


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East Ender
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March 25, 2007 4:05 pm  

Terry: I am going to call your waitress on that one. ALL Caribbean islands use a form of Creole. Some are French based (Dominica), some are Dutch, English and a mix. Mr Sprauve says that the islands that were under the Danish flag never got too much Danish in the mix, because they were interested in administering the islands, they were not working with the enslaved workers. Most of the overseers were Dutch, and they had the day to day interaction. Also, as administrations changed, the Creole changed. So on St Thomas and St John, for example, there was a Dutch influence that faded and became more English over time. Interestingly, the French who came to St Thomas from St Barts mainly had their children speak the local language- many of the descendants speak no French. On St Croix, there is a strong Spanish influence due to the folks from Vieques who moved there. BTW, the Creole of St Lucia and the Creole of Dominica, while both based on French, are different from each other. Not to mention the Creole of Haiti. The Caribbean is a language kallaloo!!


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Islander
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March 25, 2007 5:33 pm  

Hello Terry,

We have a section on our other site about language history for the VI. It includes information on Dutch Creole, which was the popular creole of the Danish West Indies. You can read it at http://www.vinow.com/general_usvi/culture/language.php.

--Islander


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DL
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March 26, 2007 8:09 pm  

In the 1700s, Dutch Creole was used on STT and STJ and English Creole developed on STX. But the Dutch Creole died out and English Creole became prominent on STT and STJ.


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