This dialect

So It Go

Anyone who knows anything about my work in music will know of my commitment to Caribbean dialect.  In my consciousness, there is no high meaning as to why this is so, but there it is. It may owe to the very rhythm of the dialect that lends itself so naturally to music, or it could be the “sweetness” of some of the constructions, or to the unique words that we find only in the dialect. Frankly, I don’t waste my time trying to figure out the propulsion; I love the dialect expression and verve, I embrace it fully, and I’m always listening for it in my travels.  But it wasn’t always so.

Going back a bit, in my early years as an immigrant to Toronto I would often be embarrassed by some mispronunciation of mine that Canadians would laugh at.  I particularly remember my difficulty with what linguists call the interdental – the “th” sound that is missing in most Caribbean dialects – and the confusion, for example, when I would point to the apples in the grocery and say, “Can I have tree of those?” Like many Caribbean immigrants I went through my share of such awkward moments, but probably propelled by my involvement in Caribbean music where I was constantly dealing with dialects, I continued to enjoy the expression though I must admit that I was selective about where I would display it.

20130127martinsAnd then there was a signal occurrence.  In the late 1970s, with Tradewinds well established, I decided to go to university, as a mature student, to widen my horizons, so to speak. In the first year of a BA programme I jumped headlong into a linguistics course along with a number of foreign-born immigrants to Canada.

Halfway in the year, with some linguistics basics in place, we were asked …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.

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