Saturday, 10 May 2008

Discourse Features in Jamaican

Just over a month ago, I arrived in the UK in order to do some Bible translation related courses. One of the things our instructors have been trying to persuade of is the importance of studying & coming to grips with the discourse features of the languages we are working with.

Two of projects I’ve done so far have caused me to realise an important feature of narrating in Jamaican: when narrating in Jamaican, we tend to not to use very many past time markers. Indeed, the speaker/author provides contextual clues/markers from which s/he expects his/her listener(s)/reader(s) to infer that what s/he’s narrating is a past event; nonetheless, the continuous use of present tense verbs in seems to produce a phenomenon that corresponds to the historical present in English.

It seems to me that this use of the present tense in narratives creates a degree of vividness and expectancy that the past tense particle (did(a)/wee/wean/ena) does no seem to convey.

Do bear with me if you think this might be a very clumsy way of articulating what’s going through my mind. I’ll come back to the issue at a later date.

I'm really interested in exploring the issue of discourse features in Jamaican...

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