This week, I had the displeasure of being in a conversation with someone who (unwittingly, obliviously) offended me as a Jamaican.
He was saying that the work of standardising Patwa is good for the morale of the Jamaican people. He called this standardisation process “creating a language out of it.” As if that wouldn’t cause my eyebrows to raise or furrow itself, he then went on to say that standardisation might only go so far with ‘them’. Why, you ask? Because the reason they love Patwa so much is that they can make up whatever they want and say it. They don’t do well with structure.
Um, excuse me? Please get off your high horse enough to realise that just because I was speaking English with you doesn’t mean that I do not identify with Jamaican people and with Jamaican Creole. It is a language, with rules and structure. The creation of new words (for example, the less-than-a-decade old [I think] verb ‘bil’, meaning to ‘chill’, ‘relax’, ‘calm down’) is a part of language evolution and is most certainly present in English. (American pop culture has, for example, a tendency to create portmanteaus.)
I wish it had been in a situation in which I could have responded. Don’t worry. I’d have been nice.