My heart’s not in it….?

Last night, my brother said something that kind of made me feel bad. It’s interesting that I can’t really remember the precise words…

But basically, he said that my Patwa makes him laugh. It doesn’t sound like my heart is in it. Interestingly, my sister said I sound okay. Hehe.

Then, we kind of got into a discussion about what ‘real’ Patwa sounds like. People say we (meaning my siblings and I) don’t talk real Patwa because we’d say stuff like:

A dohn know. [I don’t know.]

A goin’ down dere. [I am going over there.]

A give ‘er di somting. [I gave it to her.]

On the creole continuum, the way we’d speak would fall closer to the acroclect, Standard Jamaican English, that basilectal, ‘real’ Patwa. Meaning, in many cases, it’s Jamaican-accented English. If you compare the above with the following examples, the difference is easy to see:

Mi no nuo.

Mi a go dong de.

Mi gi ar di sopm/sitn/sinting.

 And so today, I realised anew what contributes to my Patwa sounding… inauthentic. My syntax is improving, but not my pronunciation. Just a few minutes ago, I found myself saying docto’ instead of dakta. When I was doing a course on The Structure and Usage of Jamaican Creole, the Trinigonians who were doing the course with us had problems with this, and I see that I do, too.

To pronounce it properly, you kind of have to open your mouth wide. The prim and proper ‘aw’ sound doesn’t exist in the basilect and the ‘o’ sound in ‘doctor’ isn’t there either. So… if I want to sound real, I have to learn to do that.

Laad elp mi.

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2 Responses to My heart’s not in it….?

  1. whylori says:

    Well, I like your Patwa. Only country people should sound like country people.


  2. read.robin says:

    I find it kind of hilarious (at your expense, sorry) that you’re just realizing that ;P Hilarious, because this is something I’ve known about myself since I was old enough to talk. I’m convinced Kingstonians have a much more ‘refined’ version of Patwa though, and trust me it’s a discussion that’s come up more than once here in class.

    It has to do with accents mostly, and the fact that there’s no one way to speak Patwa. As much as I hate to say it, the country accent is always going to be broader and more coarse than the town accent – even when you’re both chatting Creole. The bottom line for me is that complete fluency always sounds better, whether with Patwa or SE; I caan tek di mix up and blen up.


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