|The flag of Dominica.|
Located between Martinique in the Eastern Caribbean and the Guadalupe Islands in France, Dominica is an island of volcanic origin officially known as the Commonwealth of Dominica. The Island’s official name is often used to distinguish it from the Dominican Republic. Dominica is also a sovereign country whose capital is Roseau, and it gained independence in 1978 after it was colonized by the French and eventually the British. Dominica’s historical background has been highly influenced by several different countries thus the region has a diverse cultural background. In this regard, languages spoken in Dominica comprise of mixtures of the different dialects and languages from its colonizers, inhabitants, and surrounding countries as well.
The Importance Of English In Dominica
English is the national and official language of Dominica. It is widely used throughout the Island especially by the young generation. Schools in Dominica use English not only as a means of communication but also the language of instruction. Since tourists from different countries flock the region, English is the language that is officially and widely spoken. The English language in Dominica can trace its roots to 1805 when Great Britain set up a small colony in the region.
In the years before Dominica was officially colonized by the British, both British and French fought for control over the Island. Even though the French renounced the region to the British, there are still traces of French, African and other languages from local cultures found within Dominica. Creole is a unique patois that features a mixture of languages including French, Caribe, and African grammatical rules and vocabulary. Despite the Creole language being part of the Dominican culture and having been spoken for years, at present, only the older generation know and use the language. Therefore, the government of Dominica has been trying to create ways in which the language can be preserved as part of the Island’s rich and unique culture.
The Island Carib language is also known as Igneri, and it was a Maipurean language that was historically spoken in the island of Caribs a part of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. The language was widely spoken throughout the regions of the Lesser Antilles such as Dominica, Trinidad, and St. Vincent. Igneri became extinct around the year 1920. However, another language known as Garifuna was developed from it, this dialect still survives and is primarily spoken in parts of Central America.
The dialect known as Kokoy is another Creole language spoken in Dominica. Kokoy is a form of Pidgin English comprising a mixture of Dominican creole and Leeward Island English Creole. The language was imported by immigrants from Montserrat and Antigua during the 19th century. Kokoy is commonly spoken in the regions of Wesley, Clifton, Marigot, Roger and Woodford Hill.
Linguistic Diversity In Dominica
Perhaps the biggest advantage of having diversity in the region is that the country gets to be a member of both the English-speaking Commonwealth nations and the French-speaking Francophonie. On the other hand, one of the biggest disadvantages is linguistic discrimination. As shocking as it may seem, speakers of some of the local dialects such as Kokoy have had to fight against discrimination. Since English is the country’s official language, dialects such as Kokoy were perceived as less refined. Such languages were thought to be the language of the illiterate and uneducated. However, some degree of respect has been given to some of the local dialects over the recent years.
By Joyce Chepkemoi
•culled from www.worldatlas.com