Close Menu

Caribbean Journal of Education

What do Jamaican Children Speak? A Language Resource, by Michele M. Kennedy

Publication Date: 
October 2018

The simple title of the book, What do Jamaican children speak? A language resource, belies the complexity of what the author, Michele Kennedy, successfully does in describing the language that many Jamaican children bring to the classroom given our variable language situation. This variability exists because two codes, Jamaican English (JE) and the English-lexified Jamaican Creole (JC) coexist, and the distinctions between them are often blurred in the minds of its speakers. As succinctly stated by Kennedy (2017), “In a language situation such as that in Jamaica where, as we have seen, the input to which children are exposed often does not consist of two clearly separate codes, it may become difficult for them to correctly identify which forms belong to each code. This would have implications for language education” (p. 43-44). The purpose of the book, then, is to describe what Jamaican three year-olds acquiring language actually speak, subject this speech to linguistic analysis, and then make recommendations for the language education and literacy teacher.

Top of Page