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Proposal to set up a network of Jamaican Language Self Study Focus Groups  

Across the UK as well as in Jamaica, US, Canada and other parts of the world, Jamaicans have now got access to the New Testament Scriptures translated and written in Jamaican. The writing style used to present “Di Jamiekan Nyuu Testiment” is called “Cassidy - JLU” and at first this can seem awkward to read. To support better understanding and rationale behind the approach used in the translation, one idea suggested is to set up a network of Jamaican Language Self Study Focus Groups.  This recognises that the majority of Jamaicans speak Jamaican confidently, so don’t need to learn the language*, but rather have an opportunity to study the language and it’s linguistic heritage – as English speaking people do when they study for English Language GCSE or A Level.

* there are many people who would like to learn Jamaican and this would be a standard language learning class, something perhaps to be explored with a local college. The Awarding Body Consortium is prepared to accredit this with support from Learning Links International. “Speaking Jamaican” classes may also help those who were not encouraged or allowed to speak Jamaican as they grew up or those who have cross cultural relationships.

The purpose of Jamaica Language Self Study Focus Groups will give people opportunities to practise reading (and writing) in “Cassidy – JLU” and to study the development and history of Jamaica’s own unique and beautiful language “Jamaican”.  This will add to better recognition and respect of Jamaica as a language, it may be newer than most, but it must be seen to have equal recognition alongside any other of the world’s languages.

For more information click here.

Ideas on how to set up a Jamaica Language Self Study Focus Group

1. you can study on your own, but ideally set up a small manageable group with others and discuss what you all hope to get out of the sessions

2. agree where and when you will meet and what your initial aims are eg
• to study the Cassidy JLU writing system
• to gain confidence in reading “Di Jamiekan Nyuu Testiment” out loud
• to start to discuss passages and meanings in the Jamaican translation
• to consider your personal language histories ie how you came to be bilingual and the challenges you faced, and how you are sharing / not sharing your language skills with your children / grandchildren
• to have a go at writing short articles about why Jamaican is important to you, and the impact that “Di Jamiekan Nyuu Testiment” is having on you and your family and friends. Write this in Jamiekan, with an English translation

3 check the Caribbean and African Languages website www.spanglefish.com/caln for ideas, articles and information

Members of the “Jamaica 2000” team have been working for almost 20 years on aspects relating to gaining a better understanding about the status and support for the language spoken in Jamaica, in reggae music and in Jamaican communities around the world. Close links were forged with the JAMAL Foundation to explore ongoing concerns about literacy skills, as well as links with the Jamaica Language Unit at the University of the West Indies, the Chartered Institute of Linguists and many other organisations. The original team have now set up the Caribbean and African Languages Network (CALN) to work with others to challenge the discrimination these languages face.

Contact CALN / Jamaica 2000 Co-ordinator Liz Millman with comments, ideas and offers of help to organise this : email: lizmillman@yahoo.co.uk                 

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