Jump directly to main navigation Jump directly to content Jump to sub navigation

Project Members

  • Joseph T. Farquharson

Dissertation Committee

  • Chair: Dr. Silvia Kouwenberg, University of the West Indies, Mona
  • Member: Professor Hubert Devonish, University of the West Indies, Mona
  • Member: Dr. Susanne Michaelis, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Member: Dr. Jeff Good, University at Buffalo, SUNY

The African Lexis in Jamaican Creole and Its Historical Significance

This project undertook the first comprehensive treatment of the African words which entered Jamaican Creole during the plantation era (1655-1838).

My thesis looked at the Jamaican Creole words in the Dictionary of Jamaican English (1967), for which the editors (Frederic Cassidy & Robert Le Page) propose African etymologies. An important aspect of the work was its revision of the demographics of early English Jamaica. The socio-historical aspect was based on current work being done by historians, as well as linguists such as Silvia Kouwenberg.

On the linguistic side, I have drawn on a set of best practices, in order to formulate a set of criteria for accepting and rejecting etymologies. These criteria are implemented in a separate chapter where past proposals are presented, new suggestions proposed in order to come up with the most plausible etymon for each word (if any is to be found). This is followed by a description of some of the more striking formal and semantic features of the African lexis in Jamaican Creole. The thesis also looks at compounding patterns in Jamaican Creole with a view to finding substrate influences. The thesis ends with a discussion of the findings and their implications for the genesis of Jamaican Creole.