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Jamaican Patois becoming the youth language of choice in larger countries

In some parts of England and Toronto Canada, a dialect heavy with Jamaican and Afro-Caribbean inflections is being spoken by a significant portion of the youth population. British linguists are calling it “multicultural youth English,” or MYE.  Jamaican Creole, or JamC , what the academics are now calling the patois native to Jamaica, has become the dialect employed not just by the children of Jamaican immigrants, but also by second-generation West Indians of other national origins (i.e. of Trinidadian, Grenadian, Guyanese, etc. parentage) and simultaneously by Black youth of various African heritage. For British-born, urban Black people, JamC became a code used as a marker of Black identity with sociolinguistic functions similar to African-American vernacular English in the United States.

Soon after, even young white people of local, English origins started adopting JamC into their linguistic practices. Reportedly, many of those urban British-born adolescents who showed the highest levels of JamC competence had no Afro-Caribbean family background at all. The same phenomenon is being observed among the youth in Canada, primarily in the city of Toronto, which has a large Jamaican population.

Paul Kerswill,  a professor of Lancaster University, has  studied MYE—and says it is no passing fad. ‘There is evidence that this new type of English is spreading outside London around the big urban centers of England—some young people in Birmingham and Manchester use local versions of it, for example, says Kerswill. He added: “It is already in many people’s ordinary speech and will stay with them into adulthood.”Many experts also project  the Jamaican-influenced dialect will usurp some traditional regional dialects, such as Cockney in London, within the next 20 years.


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