This Major Research Project (MRP) examines the occurrence of Jamaican patois in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) among people of a Caribbean ethnic or cultural background. This project supplies data on the demographic characteristics of Jamaican patois speakers in the GTA and the situational contexts in which they use the language. The study has been developed as a pilot and foundation for further qualitative research in the field of communication to investigate the motivating factors of Jamaican patois use in the GTA.
This MRP uses the theoretical frameworks of Code Switching (Deubers, 2014; Langman, 2001), Communication Accommodation Theory (Giles, 2008; Gallois, Ogay & Giles, 2005; Giles & Ogay, 2007), and Co-Cultural Communication Theory (Orbe 1996, 1998) to analyze the answers received in response to a quantitative online survey questionnaire.
According to survey responses, participants adjust their use of Jamaican patois in the GTA as a means of assimilation and social conformity. Overall, research participants speak the most Jamaican patois at home and while socializing and/or engaging in activities outside of the home. Participants with a higher level of income and education speak less Jamaican patois regardless of physical or social contexts and a significant number of participants speak Jamaican patois if it works to their favour.
These findings indicate that, while Jamaican patois use by Caribbean’s in the GTA is associated with a lower level of income and education, the intra- and possibly intercultural affordances of the language merit further study.