Jamaica 6

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BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

AGE: 50

DATE OF BIRTH (DD/MM/YYYY): 22/03/1960

PLACE OF BIRTH: Kingston, Jamaica

GENDER: male

ETHNICITY: black Jamaican

OCCUPATION: university professor

EDUCATION: doctorate in music

AREAS OF RESIDENCE OUTSIDE REPRESENTATIVE REGION FOR LONGER THAN SIX MONTHS:

This subject has lived in in a variety of places in the United States longer than six months, including New York; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Dallas, Texas; Riverside, California; and Lawrence, Kansas.

OTHER INFLUENCES ON SPEECH:

This subject has had extensive language diction training for directing choral singing, which has led to a diminished accent. He was taught British English from an early age.

The text used in our recordings of scripted speech can be found by clicking here.

RECORDED BY: Elaina Smith (under supervision of Paul Meier)

DATE OF RECORDING (DD/MM/YYYY): 25/10/2013

PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION OF SCRIPTED SPEECH: N/A

TRANSCRIBED BY: N/A

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): N/A

ORTHOGRAPHIC TRANSCRIPTION OF UNSCRIPTED SPEECH:

I was born in, uh, Kingston, Jamaica, which is an island in the West Indies. My schoolteachers were mostly from England. It was a British colony, and, um, Jamaica became independent of Britain in 1962. So, um, most of my early years were still under a system that, uh, featured an educational system that was much like the English school system. We were taught formal English in school, but when we were on the street or when we were with friends, we spoke a dialect. Now the dialect in Jamaica, some people mistakenly call it “patois”, but it’s not because patois I associate more with French dialects. But the dialect does take in words from, obviously from African languages. Many times it is thought of as broken English, and there is a lot of that in there. But the idioms, the phrases that are spoken, many times mean different things. I mean if you just translated or understood the words, you may still not understand the meaning of the sentence. Um, well, if you are speaking to a Jamaican who really understands the dialect, it’s so fast and it’s so broken that it is hard for outsiders, so if I say something, for instance. If I say “ooagwam,” it’s actually translated to mean “what’s happening,” but there’s nothing in it that says any of those words. Jamaica has a lot of Germans, a lot of Chinese. They were under, um, Spanish rule for a long time, so there are a lot of Spanish words that are thrown in, so the dialect is, is really a mixture of all sorts of languages.

TRANSCRIBED BY: Elaina Smith (under supervision of Paul Meier)

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): 17/11/2013

PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION OF UNSCRIPTED SPEECH: N/A

TRANSCRIBED BY: N/A

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): N/A

SCHOLARLY COMMENTARY:

Though much of the Jamaican accent has been replaced with a more General American accent, there are still many instances where the Jamaican appears. The subject stresses many syllables that would not normally be stressed in a General American dialect.

If you are a dialect researcher, or an actor using this sample to develop your skill in the accent, please see my instruction manual at www.paulmeier.com. As the speaker in this sample is a unique individual, it is highly unlikely that he will conform to my analysis in every detail. But you will find it interesting and instructive to notice which of my “signature sounds” and “additional features” (always suggested only as commonly heard features of the accent) are widely used by most speakers of the accent or dialect, and which are subject to variation from individual to individual.

COMMENTARY BY: Elaina Smith and Paul Meier

DATE OF COMMENTARY (DD/MM/YYYY): 24/11/2013 (amended 10/11/2016)

The archive provides:

  • Recordings of accent/dialect speakers from the region you select.
  • Text of the speakers’ biographical details.
  • Scholarly commentary and analysis in some cases.
  • In most cases, an orthographic transcription of the speakers’ unscripted speech.  In a small number of cases, you will also find a narrow phonetic transcription of the sample (see Phonetic Transcriptions for a complete list).  The recordings average four minutes in length and feature both the reading of one of two standard passages, and some unscripted speech. The two passages are Comma Gets a Cure (currently our standard passage) and The Rainbow Passage (used in our earliest recordings).

For instructional materials or coaching in the accents and dialects represented here, please go to Other Dialect Services.