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Friday, June 19, 2009

Time to speak Jamaican


By NORMAN MUNROE
Special to The Japan Times

If you've ever wanted to learn Jamaican patois, it just got a whole lot easier with the launch of an educational CD on which, set to music, is the alphabet and grammar as used in patois, designed to be used as a learning tool, in order to make it easy for anyone, non-Jamaicans and Jamaicans alike, to learn the language.

Patois, de facto Jamaica's official language, has journeyed to the four corners of the Earth almost entirely through the work of the country's musicians, singers and DJs, and reggae music. Here in Japan, so popular is Jamaican culture, that there are even schools teaching the patois dialect to Jamaica enthusiasts.

In Jamaica, the debate about how much official currency to give the language has long reigned, with the main issue being whether patois could ever replace English as the nation's official language. The main drawback is the fact that patois is primarily a spoken language and there is, despite several efforts, yet to be an agreed upon method of writing it.

Into the fray steps Jamaican language scholar and musician, John McAnuff, 72, who has put together this CD, which also includes vocabulary and tips on pronunciation. The CD, now available at www.cdbaby.com, is titled the "Jumiekan Langwij Song and Project" and will be launched in Tokyo on June 21.

The launch event will take the form of a concert to be held at Tsukimiru Kimi Omou in Aoyama, at which the author will speak. The concert will feature a number of Jamaican and Japanese artists, led by popular Japan-based reggae artist Macka Ruffin, who is, in fact, a younger brother of the author. Other acts include Izaba, Miki Baby and Junior Senior, all backed by The Majestic Band.

"Jumeikan Langwij' CD launch takes place at Tsukimiru Kimi Omou, Aoyama (nearest station Gaienmae, Exit 1-A, Ginza Line), 6pm-10pm. Admission ¥2,000, including one drink. Tickets available at the door. Jamaican food and drink on sale.


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