Linguistic variation in urban Jamaican creole: A sociolinguistic study of Kingston, Jamaica

Peter Lumpkin Patrick, University of Pennsylvania


This study of a mixed-class neighborhood in Kingston (Jamaica's capital city) draws a synchronic profile of a speech community in quantitative variationist terms, examining urban mesolectal speech and mapping the creole continuum on phono-lexical, phonological, morphological and syntactic dimensions. Based on a year's fieldwork by a near-native speaker, the tape-recorded speech of 15 individuals who span the continuum is investigated for 3 variables: the palatalization of velars before low vowels (/kya/), the simplification of final consonant clusters ending in /-t/ or /-d/, and past-marking in preterite verb-phrases. The last considers separately the classic creole pre-verbal past-markers /ben/, /did/ and /neva/, on the one hand; and variation between inflected and unmarked past-reference verbs, on the other; examining the role of stativity, anteriority, and clause-type. The speech community is described in terms of its history, demographics, local categories, and social geography. The linguistic variables are subjected to a quantitative sociolinguistic analysis that takes into account speakers' social class, sex, rural/urban orientation, occupation, education and age; these social criteria are used primarily to interpret the patterning of speakers on the linguistic continuum.

Subject Area

Linguistics|Cultural anthropology

Recommended Citation

Patrick, Peter Lumpkin, "Linguistic variation in urban Jamaican creole: A sociolinguistic study of Kingston, Jamaica" (1992). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9227738.