Volume 24, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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This paper describes morphological and syntactic variation in a sample of forty conversations among highly educated Jamaicans taken from the Jamaican component of the International Corpus of English. The guiding question is whether the creole continuum model can account for the way speakers like these, who have a full command of acrolectal Jamaican English and tend to be proficient in Jamaican Creole as well, make use of the range of varieties available to them. Variation in the data is approached from two angles: first, selected variables are analysed quantitatively, and the results are compared to findings for more formal types of texts in the same corpus; second, inter- and intra-textual variation in the sample is described qualitatively. In broad quantitative terms, the data fall in between the ‘high acrolect’ and the upper mesolect but there are fine distinctions in the degree to which Creole features are used in different conversations or segments thereof. Building on Allsopp’s distinction between ‘informal’ and ‘anti-formal’ usage, the paper proposes that morphological and syntactic variation in educated Jamaican speech can be described in the framework of a stylistic continuum, whose relation to the sociolinguistic continuum seems to be a close but complex one.


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