New Books from John Benjamins Publishing

Andrew Gallinger promotion at BENJAMINS.COM
Wed Aug 11 18:18:39 UTC 1999

John Benjamins Publishing would like to call your attention to the
following new titles in the field of dialect studies:

URBAN JAMAICAN CREOLE: Variation in the Mesolect.
Peter L. Patrick
1999 xii, 317 pp. Varieties of English Around the World, G17
US/Canada: 1 55619 448 X Price: USD 110.00
Rest of the World: 90 272 4875 3 Price: NLG 220.00

A synchronic sociolinguistic study of Jamaican Creole (JC) as spoken in
urban Kingston, this work uses variationist methods to closely investigate
two key concepts of Atlantic Creole studies: the mesolect, and the creole
continuum. One major concern is to describe how linguistic variation
patterns with social influences. Is there a linguistic continuum? How does
it correlate with social factors? The complex organization of an urbanizing
Caribbean society and the highly variable nature of mesolectal speech norms
and behavior present a challenge to sociolinguistic variation theory. The
second chief aim is to elucidate the nature of mesolectal grammar. Creole
studies have emphasized the structural integrity of basilectal varieties,
leaving the status of intermediate mesolectal speech in doubt. How
systematic is urban JC grammar? What patterns occur when basilectal creole
constructions alternate with acrolectal English elements? Contextual
constraints on choice of forms support a picture of the mesolect as a
single grammar, variable yet internally-ordered, which has evolved a fine
capacity to serve social functions. Drawing on a year's fieldwork in a
mixed-class neighborhood of the
 capital city, the author (a speaker of JC) describes the speech
community's history, demographics, and social geography, locating speakers
in terms of their social class, occupation, education, age, sex, residence,
and urban orientation. The later chapters examine a recorded corpus for
linguistic variables that are phono-lexical (palatal glides), phonological
(consonant cluster simplification), morphological (past-tense inflection),
and syntactic (pre-verbal tense and aspect marking), using quantitative
methods of analysis (including Varbrul). The Jamaican urban mesolect is
portrayed as a coherent system showing stratified yet regular linguistic
behavior, embedded in a well-defined speech community; despite the
incorporation of forms and constraints from English, it is quintessentially
creole in character.
Andrew Gallinger                                 Tel: (215) 836-1200
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