Sunday, September 14, 2008

New Term 2008 the final frontier the New Wiki

This blog is now officially dormant.

You can find further information about the CAPE Programme for Mrs John's classes (and all are welcome to browse)

at the NEW WIKI.

The wiki is a more collaborative effort for students and teachers and also is a more flexible tool than the blog.

It's life Jim but not as we know it.


Monday, March 31, 2008

Literary devices commonly used in Paper 1A (Listening comprehension)


The two widely differing elements are contrasted using a common value to convey further information about one or both elements. The differences between them often intensify either their positive or negative qualities. They frequently will be opposites. E.g the warmth of the Caribbean with the cold of a New York Winter (comparison point temperature). Contrasts also can be metaphorical.

Irony is the contrast between what is expected or what appears to be and what actually is. For example A clumsy ballet dancer.
Verbal Irony (sarcasm is the tone of voice/writing)
The contrast between what is said and what is actually meant. E.g He did an excellent job of making a mess.
Irony of Situation
This refers to a happening that is the opposite of what is expected or intended. E.g. The wedding of a son causes a marital breakdown for the parents.


Compares by stating the element is the item of comparison e.g. The lawyer’s claws were out and he would not stop until they drew blood,

Extends a metaphor to compare a situation or particularly to explain a complex item by using a familiar item to structure the explanation. E.g. Exam preparation is like baking a cake all the ingredients must be used and preparations thorough before baking. Firstly the ingredients: study which is lightened with periods of recreation, physical health, managing stress. (The analogy would continue for several paragraphs even)

SIMILE (note spelling well)
Compares using the like, as, resembles, looked as though etc. e.g. His exam worries even after the event were as if a rat was gnawing at his brain.

Compares non-human, inanimate elements OR abstract concepts to using HUMAN qualities e.g. The building stared down at him daring him to enter OR Justice is never kindly but it is ruthlessly fair. If the qualities are not human then the comparison is a metaphor e.g. A beast of a car.

Gives animals human characteristics e.g. The fox spoke to the cubs and then strolled away with a dancing step.

Uses familiar classical, biblical or other well know cultural references . E.g. Anasi-like cunning


Exaggerates qualities of an element or an overstatement (sometimes for comedic effect). E.g. I could eat my shoes I’m so hungry.

Uses repetition of either words, phrases or even a whole sentence. E.g What if I don’t make it, what if I can’t pass, what if I fail

Alliteration – similar consonant sounds
Assonance – similar vowel sounds
Onomatopoeia - the word sounds like the sound

A search of the internet will bring up many more complex and obscure devices.

CAPE Syllabus Module 1 - Gathering and Processing Information

Module 1 Gathering and Processing Information

General objectives
1. use the structures of English correctly as well as with a degree of elegance
2. Evaluate examples of written and spoken communication, including arguments, taking in to consideration the form and content of the communication and the context in which it is presented and constructed.
3. Apply comprehension skills of analysis and critical evaluation to a wide range of oral and written material.
4. Demonstrate organising competencies in oral and written communication.

Specific Objectives
1. Speak and write with control of grammar, vocabulary, mechanics and conventions of English usage;
2. indentify the characteristic formats, organizational features and modes of expression of different genres and types of writing and speech;
3. evaluation the appropriateness of data collection methods, including the use of the internet
4. apply any of the six different levels of comprehension to spoken or written material
5. write continuous prose and note form summaries of specific types of spoken and written material
6. evaluate the effect of source, context, medium or channel on the reliability and validity of information
7. gather information about current issues
8. evaluate information about current issues
9. present in appropriate oral form the evaluation of (8);
10. create a portfolio of oral and written work


1. Structural competencies
a. Grammar
b. Usage
c. Word choice
d. Spelling
e. Punctuation
f. Pronunciation
g. Enunciation
h. Correcting errors and mistakes, revising and editing drafts

2. Levels of comprehension
a. Understanding levels: literal, interpretive, analytical, application, synthesis, evaluative
b. Understanding modes, genres and types of speech and writing, with specific attention to organisation and language used
c. Levels of comprehension to different modes, genres and types of speech and writing
i. Expository (for example definitions, technical writing)
ii. Literary (for example prose fiction, poetry, drama)
iii. Argumentative
a. Forms (deduction, induction, analogy, authority)
b. Fallacies (such as non sequitur, unproved assertion
c. Evaluating arguments

3. Study and summary skills

a. General study skills
i. Preparing to study (understanding mental, emotional and physical connections, scheduling and controlling distractions)
ii. Defining and distinguishing between reading and listening
iii. Setting purposes for reading (surveying, skimming and scanning)
iv. Setting purposes for listening (general, specific)
v. Understanding factors which affect reading and listening comprehension

b. Summary skills
i. Note taking and note making
ii. Distinguishing between main and subsidiary ideas
iii. Understanding logical linkages between ideas
iv. Formulating topic sentences and linking them to subsidiary ideas
v. Sequencing
vi. Condensing
vii. Writing outlines
viii. Writing continuous prose summaries
ix. Editing drafts (peer evaluation and self evaluation)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Summary of requirements for Expository Presentation

The expository presentation should conform to the following requirements

· An 8 minute presentation on the same theme as your reflective portfolio

· It will have 6 elements
- An introduction with a thesis statement
- A rationale in which you explain why you chose your theme
- A discussion of issues (a factual presentation)
- An evaluation of the reliability and validity of two sources of data used in your presentation
- A report on the challenges you faced while researching the presentation.
- A conclusion

· You cannot read from a full script

· You can use notes in bullet point/ key words form (apart from details of references and statistics)

· The notes should cover no more than 8 small index cards (or paper the size of index cards)

· You can use visual aids but they are not a requirement

· You should wear school uniform which conforms strictly to the dress code for the examination

You can find a more detailed explanation of the expository presentation here

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Research using the internet

The internet is a big old place and you can get very lost. When looking for factual information library sites and other tools which help control the search and make it more likely to be academic information are useful ways to do this.

Below are a list of links which will help you find more relevant information

A good starting place (it is an American site but has many good international resources)


General search engines

7. Meta-search engines (searches search engines)

Find subject directories for a specific field (academic)


General directories

Other directories which might help
Google books and Google Scholar

14. Searches specialised data bases or the invisible web as not all websites are listed

Finding journals and other publications (some are pay services listed) (free journals)

General ideas for Caribbean

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The expository presentation for CAPE Communication Studies Internal Assessment

What it is NOT

It is NOT a presentation of any of your reflective pieces
It is NOT a persuasive speech although you may express an opinion in the conclusion
It is NOT submitted in writing
It is NOT an essay on legs. You should not read from a script

So what is it then?
The presentation has two distinct parts

* A FACTUAL presentation on an aspect of your portfolio theme
* A presentation about your research including an evaluation of two sources of information used to prepare your factual presentation.

It will have all the following 6 elements present

1. An introduction (statement of topic)

In the introduction you will give a brief explanation of topic/ theme and a preview (with a thesis statement) of what you are going to cover.

For example.
"My theme is Returning Migrants to St Vincent. Returning migrants or returnees are a group within the population of St Vincent who have spent a significant time away from the island and have then returned to permanently settle again. Returning migrants often are retired from their previous occupation which they pursued in a more developed country such as the United States, Canada or Great Britain or they have been working in another Caribbean state. According to statistics from the Customs Department given to me by Mrs B Chalres in an interview 4361 people claimed the concession for returning residents in 2005. Returning migrants experience 5 phases of adjuststment when returning which can be termed as “culture shock”."


Theme ; Returning Migrants to St Vincent.
a group within the population of St Vincent
a significant time away from the island
returned to permanently settle

retired from their previous occupation (the United States, Canada or Great Britain) OR
working in another Caribbean state.

Customs Department (Mrs B Charles) “4361 people claimed the concession for returning residents in 2005”.

Returning migrants experience 5 phases of adjustmentwhen returning which can be termed as “culture shock”.

2. A rationale

In the rationale you need to explain why you picked the theme and it can form part of the introduction. In the rationale you should mention any personal interests, current academic links and future career plans which influenced your decision to choose the theme

For example I chose the theme returning migrants to St Vincent and specifically to focus on culture shock because I am a wife of a returning migrant. I have a BSc honours in Sociology and the concept of culture shock is part of socio-cultural studies carried out by Kavelo Oberg 1958. In the future I will be submitting my Masters thesis on this specific issue.


3. Discussion of issues

The discussion of issues is the factual presentation about the theme and its narrowed focus based on the thesis statement. Remember this will be about 3 minutes or so – it is not long.

It should have a distinct organisational pattern and you should aim for one of the expository structures such as cause and effect, process analysis, analysis by division, classification etc (See Writing in English)

It should also be referenced and include any research findings. You will also need to give a conclusion to your factual presentation as a sort of sub conclusion don’t wait until the end

Here is an example of a possible outline for my example presentation (not all of it). It uses the organisational pattern of process analysis Remember you cannot read from a script!

Culture shock 5 phases
Honeymoon, rejection/ regression, conformist, assimilation, reverse culture shock

Centre for Overseas Travel “the tourist phase”
Questionnaire (300 returning migrants) 78% not feel “tourist” 82% “elated”


Oberg – frustration etc
Questionnaire 50% wanted to return after 3 months,
Reasons, poor service, backward attitude, nothing to do, boring
Interview Dr Sheridan Mental health presentations tend to be in 1st 4 months of return.

4. Challenges of research
You need to discuss what difficulties you faced in preparing your factual presentation. If you did not have any difficulties then just explain why.

For example (in note form)
Questionnaires – time consuming, identifying sample,
Other sources - no central data on returnees, newspaper articles useful
Academic research not on St Vincent

5. Evaluation of two sources

For this aspect of the presentation you need to discuss your research. The two sources need not necessarily be given as a reference in the presentation but they should be relevant. You should try to select two different types of data source e.g. a newpaper article and an interview. You may want to very briefly summarise all your sources before evaluating two for reliability and validity. Please see other parts of the blog for information on reliablity and validity.

For example (in note form)
Secondary sources:
academic text books and journals,
local and international newspapers and magazines,
web sites: international public organisations e.g. Peace Corps
general sites e.g. Wikipedia
Primary sources
interviews of experts in St Vincent
questionnaire of returning migrants.

Questionnaire of returning migrants
Reliable: primary data source, research method suited to collecting data for social research
Valid: Problem with sample size as total population of RMs unknown
Problem with generalisation as differences between UK, US and other RMs more research needed.
Overall reliable and reasonably valid

The Experience of Return Migration: A Caribbean Perspective, Joan Phillips and Reliable Denis Conway, Ashgate Press, London 2005
Author expert Phd Social Anthrop. Specialised Caribbean writer – Canada
Publisher: reputable, specialst academic main interest Social research
Valid Recently published Problem no reference to St Vincent
Overall general but very reliable and valid source

6. Conclusion
The conclusion should be slightly different to the internal summary conclusion in your discussion of issues. At this stage you can express a personal view or put forward a possible solution.

For example (in note form)
Returning migrants
YES culture shock
3 ways
NO assimilation

Programme – promote overseas, keep in touch,
Information - government

See my other post about the reseach using the internet for idea. Make sure that you are aware of the requirements for acceptable notes during the exam and be familiar with the marks scheme - it is not only content that is marked but also presentation skills.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Worksheet 7 - Gathering and Processing Data

Question 1
You are carrying out research into savings institutions in St Vincent & the Grenadines.
Identify which of the following are primary and which are secondary sources of information. Explain why for each source.


(b) Your own interview with the manager of GECU

(c) A report by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank on Savings in St Vincent from their website without a date.

(d) Statistics from the Government’s Annual Financial Statement on the Economy on Credit Union business for 2004.

(d) The results of a survey using questionnaires carried out by a PhD student for his thesis on “The growth of credit unions in St Vincent” submitted in 2006

(d) A text book entitled “Caribbean Economics” published in 1997.

(e) An advertisement for Millennium Offshore Bank’s Supergrowth Bond which compares its rate of interest to other savings institutions in St Vincent in last week’s local newspaper

Question 2

Evaluate 3 of the references above in Question 2 for reliability and validity. Make sure you evaluate both source of the data and the data itself.

Question 3

Evaluate the credibility ONE of the following websites.

Question 4

The Principal wishes to research whether changing to an Associate Degree from the current A level / CAPE programme would be successful.

(a) What 3 different methods of research could he use to gather data on which to base his decision? State the method in detail and the source from which the data would be gathered for each method.

(b) What factors might affect reliability and validity of one of the methods you chose. What could be done to minimise the effects of the factors you have identified.

(c) The Community College has 830 students of which 700 are female and 130 are male. Discuss the effect of sample size and demographic representation (include all the factors) if the Principal wishes to ensure a reliable and valid sample of the students.

(d) The Principals is in favour of changing to an Associate Degree. How might this cause bias in interpretation of the data?

Question 5

The following questions are from a survey into herbal medicine. Comment on the effectiveness of each question in generating reliable and valid data

1. Do you use alternative medicine?

2. Is herbal medicine a good or a bad thing?

3. Which of the following ways have you obtained herbal medicine / have you used
herbal remedies
(a) prescribed by a health professional e.g. registered nurse or doctor
(b) herbal remedies suggested by other health practitioners e.g. bush doctor, herbalist
(c) over the counter herbal remedies purchased at a pharmacy
(d) herbal remedies from your own garden/collected by you
(e) any other method of obtaining herbal remedies (Please give details)

4 (a) Have you used herbal medicine Yes / No / Not sure
(b) What illnesses have you taken herbal medicine to relieve?

Question 5

You are carrying out research into attitudes towards recreational use of cannabis.

Other than questions to elicit demographic information suggest 4 questions two open and two closed in the sequence they would appear in the questionnaire to generate data.

Gathering data in research - an evaluation of reliability and validity

Primary and secondary data sources

A research instrument can gather data from either a primary or secondary source

Primary sources
Primary sources are original materials on which other research is based. They are not interpreted or evaluated. Examples of primary sources are data gathered by a questionnaire, statistics of population from the Government census or a first report of a research experiment and its finding

Secondary sources
Secondary sources are less easily defined than primary sources. Secondary sources interpret and analyse primary sources examples might be text books, or journals which review others work. Sometimes is it always easy to distinguish primary from secondary sources. A newspaper article is a primary source if it reports events, but a secondary source if it analyses and comments on those events.

Evaluating Reliability and Validity

In evaluating sources there are two elements reliability and validity. For a data source to be accurate and credible high levels of reliability and validity is the aim. Both elements are equal in importance in judging the accuracy and credibility of a source.

Reliability – Can the source provide the data?

For a source to be reliable we must evaluate the ability of the source to provide the information. We are looking at the question “Is it likely that this source can provide this data?”

The issue is therefore authority. To evaluate authority we can look at several aspects of the data source.

Author - Is the author an expert in the field? What qualifications do they have? For example an article on a website about HIV+ written by medical doctor might have more authority than one written by some one without qualification.

Professional standards. – Does the author have certain professional standards? The example of a doctor immediately comes to mind. Similarly academic writers who are published in academic journals or books have to conform to standards and have their work checked by other academics. Journalists mostly operate within a professional approach especially large international newspapers such as the New York Times or the Guardian (UK)Authority can mean expertise.

Publisher – Is the publisher reputable? Academic publishers need to maintain their reputation for accurate factual information so they also have editors to ensure a high standard. Other publishers such as newspapers, magazines etc need to avoid legal action for libel (telling lies about someone) so also should be careful to print the truth.

Organisation or Institution – If the data is from an organisation, for example the United Nations, we need to evaluate their reputation and their role or responsibilities. For example statistics on the economy from the East Caribbean Central Bank would come from a highly reliable source as the bank use the statistics to conduct the very important business of issuing bank notes and controlling the money supply in the region.

Research method – Could the research method chosen generate the data necessary? For example in researching teen pregnancy would carrying out an interview of an expert generate the data needed or would questionnaires of teens be a better choice.

Validity – Is the data true?

A source could have high levels of reliability. For example, academic research published in an academic journal by the leading expert in the field however the data may have a low level of validity in that it might be very out of date. Equally it may be possible that a source might not be considered highly reliable for example an intenet site which does not have the name of the author, organisation who maintains the site etc however the data is still true or valid.

In evaluating validity we need to look at accuracy and bias.

To evaluate accuracy we can look at several aspects of the data

Currency – When was the data published or gathered? Could the information be out of date? For example statistics on rates of HIV+ infection will need to be up to date to be accurate.

Relevance – Does the information relate to the circumstances you are applying it to? For example, will research carried out in the United States apply to the Caribbean?

Data collection – Was the data collected by reliable methods? Was it accurately recorded?

Sample size – Was the sample size large enough for generalisation to be accurate? For example if a newspaper article has only interviewed one person in a large crowd can we assume that all the points of view are represented? Similarly with social research the sample size is vital to judging whether the data is representative of the population as a whole.

Replicable – Do other sources have similar information? Would another similar piece of research have the same result? This is particularly relevant to sources such as the internet which lack references.

To evaluate bias we can look at:

Representation – Does the sample include all the variables within the population such as age, gender, social class, religion, education level which might affect response? Even with a large sample if the sample is not representative then bias in the data will occur.

Cultural bias – Has the data been collected by someone of the same or a different culture. For example, an Western researcher may misinterpret a non-Western culture and be biased due to racism or other factors. Similarly when researching within ones own culture, being subject to the same values and beliefs as the subjects may cause one not to question certain responses. For example when evaluating religious or other beliefs.

Political bias – Is the data being presented from either a right wing or a left wing perspective. The conservative agenda (e.g. free market economics, personal liberty above all other rights and fundamental religious views) will differ from the liberal agenda (e.g. some control of the market for social gain, social control for the good of society, religious tolerance for different views).

Social bias – Aspects such as gender, race, age and social class may affect the presentation of data. For example a women’s perspective on sexual equality may differ from a man’s views.

Faulty research methods – Even the best academic researchers can make mistakes and inexperienced researchers such as a student may have issues with poorly designed and executed questionnaires and interviews. Mistakes within the research method inadvertently cause bias. This is why academic research is reviewed by several other academics to evaluate the methodology and avoid bias in the conclusions or faulty conclusions.

Aim of the source in presenting the data – The reason for the data being presented will have an effect on bias. For example a Government might present certain statistics on economic performance if they are favourable and might avoid others. Whilst the data is valid, there might still be bias in that other relevant information is not present. If the source’s aim is persuasive again there may be bias. For example commercial sites wishing to sell products.

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The Research Process

The research process is systematic and has several stages

(a) Selection of topic
The general area for research will be determined by either academic consideration (e.g. to further knowledge on one particular area) or by a specific need for information (e.g. to make a decision on services for example whether to implement an associate degree)

(b) Research question ­
The research question is the narrowing of focus from a topic. For example the topic Associate Degrees at Community College may have a research question “The impact of implementation Associate Degrees at Community College”.

(c) Thesis
It may be at this stage a thesis will be proposed or it may be that some preliminary data gathering will take place before the thesis. For our example our thesis which we are seeking to either prove or disprove will be “Fewer students will take an Associate Degree compared with the current student numbers taking the A level programme”.

(d) Designing the research instrument
A research instrument is the way in which data (the facts) is gathered. It may be that research will be carried out solely through reviewing others research (library / book review) or combined with data gathering through research instruments such as surveys, experiments or observations. When designing the research instrument, the focus will be the goal of the research question and the thesis.

(e) Gathering data
The research will use the various instruments to collect information about the topic.

(f) Recording data
Accurate recording of data is central to research both primary and secondary research can be biased by incorrect recording.

(g) Analysing and evaluation of the data
The data will be assessed against the thesis as well as other conclusions being sought for the research question. It may be that the research might show fewer students would take the A level programme however other data gathered might show that more students who previously would not have taken the A level programme would take the Associate degree

(h) Presentation of results
The research question is used to provide a framework for presenting the findings.

(i) Review of results
In many instances the research process and results are reviewed by either the researchers peers or in an academic evaluation process.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

A Checklist for the Portfolio - the Reflective and Analytical elements

Reflective written portfolio – 20 of 60 marks

The portfolio will contain

(a) Cover sheet with name, candidate number, centre/centre number (150019) and teacher's name

(b) Introduction to theme and reasons (personal, academic or other) for choosing the theme.

(c) Two pieces of reflective (creative) writing of 2 of the 3 genres - poetry, short story or other prose form or drama.

These pieces should have literary non-factual content (although your purpose may be to educate through this medium). One of these piece can be taped or videoed but the tape for video must be between 3 to 5 minute long.

(d) With EACH piece, a rationale for the piece of writing which includes inspiration, purpose in writing, intended audience and situation the audience will receive the writing (e.g. in an anthology, newspaper etc)

(e) Conclusion. In the conclusion the student should reflect on his/her process in writing and his/her opinions.

f) Bibliography

Analytical part of the portfolio – 20 out of 60 marks.

Analysis of one your reflective pieces or a published piece of creative writing on the same theme.

The analysis will include: '
* register (formality, tone, word choice etc),

* dialectal variation (standard, non-standards),

* attitudes to language (what does the choice of language convey to the reader about the character, what do other characters think of the choices of lanaguage or what do certain language types symbolise in societies),

* communicative behaviours shown in the story e.g. use of non-verbal communication

Word limits for written portfolio

The word limits are 1200 words for the reflective portfolio and 350 words for the analytical piece. You will be penalised by 2 marks if both the pieces together exceed 1700 words.

While we have no definite guidance on how to proceed with word count, we are assuming that words have to be over 2 letters to be counted.

With regard to taped or videoed submissions, the script must conform to the word limit and should be submitted along with the tape.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Worksheet 6

1. According to Roberts, which two territories are ‘linguistically notorious’?

2. Which English speaking Caribbean country has fewest Creole features?

3. When a Jamaican Creole speaker says, ‘All the ceiling she paint’ all is used to mean ________________

4. The feature ‘wi’ used after sentences as a tag can be attributed to influence from which language?

5. According to Roberts which territories use the ‘wi’ tag?

6. Which country does not use ‘does’ to indicate habitual?

7. What linguistic difficulty does this traditional joke in Jamaica illustrate? The indignant schoolmaster reprimanding his pupil with, ‘hemphasise your haiches, you hignorant hass’.

8. A feature prominent in Barbadian speech is strong retroflexion…what does this mean? Give an example.

9. When a Grenadian or Trinidadian uses ‘it have’ as in the following example: “It have a man in town….” What does ‘it have’ mean?

10. To signal future St Kitts speech has both ‘gon’ and ‘an’ . What do the following express

(a) He an go town fi you

(b) A gon do om soon.

11. Translate the following English Creole statements to standard

Di two pikni dem a fight.
Dis a fi mi buk.
Tantie bex causen say mi tan too long a maakit.
Im tek tik lik di gyrl inna she head.

12. Write down three different ways in which non standard speakers of English in the Caribbean might say, “The boys went to a party.”

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Language: registers

An acrolect is a register of a spoken language that is considered formal and high-style.

The term mesolect refers to a register or range of registers of spoken language whose character falls somewhere between the prestige of the acrolect and the informality of the basilect. Mesolectic speech, where it is distinguished from acrolectic speech, is often the most widely spoken form of a language, generally being used by lower and lower-middle classes. Within the context of Creole languages, mesolects only appear in instances of a post-Creole speech continuum wherein speakers code-switch between various mesolectal levels within the continuum depending on context.

In linguistics, a basilect is a dialect of speech that has diverged so far from the standard language that in essence it has become a different language. A basilect represents the opposite end of the scale of linguistic formality from an acrolect. In certain speech communities, a continuum exists between speakers of a Creole language and a related standard language. Basilects typically differ from the standard language in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, and can often develop into different languages.

(Additional reading: West Indians and their language Chapters 1-4 )

Worksheet 5

Look at the poem:

Dis ting called language is real funny
We does use it for all kinda ting you see
Sometimes it fancy and sometimes it free
And in did Caribbean is a real potpourri

When it fancy we it formal and real ‘la de da’
When it free we does call it vernacular
Each country down here have it own language flavour
But they each have a standard that they must master.

1. The author refers to using language for “all kinda ting” (line 2). State THREE different purposes of language.

2. Suggest TWO situations when one might use what the author refers to as “fancy” language (line 5).

3. Suggest TWO situations when one might use what the author refers to as “free” language (line 6).

4. Americans and British speakers may be said to be using different dialects of the same language.
(a) What are some noticeable differences between them?
(b) In this context explain what is referred to as ‘accent’.

5. Identify FOUR instances where Creole influenced vernacular is used in the poem.

6. Suggest one reason for the demise of the Garifuna language in St Vincent.

7. Identify ways in which the same language used by different speakers may vary.

8. What are the possible causes for the development of varieties of any language?

9. Write a short definition for the linguistic term ‘register’.

10. Explain the process by which one dialect emerges as the ‘Standard’.


For each of the examples that follow, explain why these speakers of the same language did not seem [ :0)] to understand the meaning that was being transferred:



The Judge said to the defendant, "I thought I told you I never wanted to see you in here again."
"Your Honor," the criminal said, "that's what I tried to tell the police, but they wouldn't listen."


A policeman stops a lady and asks for her license. He says "Lady, it says here that you should be wearing glasses."
The woman answered "Well, I have contacts."
The policeman replied "I don't care who you know! You're getting a ticket!"

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Language: dialects and registers

Language is systematic or rule governed. Although this is true, it is also true that there is often variation in the actual use of any language. All users of the same language do not necessarily use it in the same way. Often the same speaker may use the same language in different ways depending on a number of factors.

A dialect is a variant of a language. If it is associated with a geographically isolated speech community, it is referred to as a regional dialect. However, if it is spoken by a speech community that is merely socially isolated, it is called a social dialect. These latter dialects are mostly based on class, ethnicity, gender, age, and particular social situations. Black English (or Ebonics) in the United States is an example of a social dialect.

Code switching: People may quickly switch back and forth between dialects, depending on the person they are talking to at the time. This pattern is referred to as diglossia or "code switching." Code-switching is a term in linguistics referring to alternation between two or more languages, dialects, or language registers in the course of discourse between people who have more than one language in common. Sometimes the switch lasts only for a few sentences, or even for a single phrase.

More broadly defined, code-switching occurs when people alter their speech and behavior so as to fit into different social situations. The most common changes involve vocabulary, levels of casualness or formality, types of clothing, and facial and hand gestures.

Dis ting called language is real funny
We does use it for all kinda ting you see
Sometimes it fancy and sometimes it free
And in did Caribbean is a real potpourri

When it fancy we it formal and real ‘la de da’
When it free we does call it vernacular
Each country down here have it own language flavour
But they each have a standard that they must master.

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Worksheet 4 - Language

Worksheet 4a True or False?

1. Language is the human ability to use certain forms for thinking, speaking, enjoyment and aesthetic pleasure.
2. Language is common to all living things.
3. A language is used by a particular community.
4. Language is acquired at birth.
5. The rules for one language always apply to another.
6. An infant will speak as a native tongue whatever language it is exposed to during the first few weeks of life.
7. The stages of acquisition of language in Spanish children and Chinese children are the same.
8. English is a prestigious language because it is inherently superior to other languages.
9. Language is centered in the brain.
10. Intelligence is measurable independent of language and culture.

Worksheet 4b.

a). What is language?

b). What are the main reasons for this complexity?

c). Would you agree that the Europeans all spoke the same dialects of their language?

d). What evidence does the passage provide to support your answer to (c) above?

e). From which continent do the majority of official languages of the Caribbean come?

f). What languages did the Europeans encounter when they came to the Caribbean region?

g) Why does the writer of the passage in ‘Language Variety’ refer to the Caribbean as a complex linguistic area?

h). Identify the official language in all territories of the Caribbean.

i). Identify the popular languages of St Lucia, Jamaica, Bonaire, Haiti and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

j). Give five examples of the linguistic features of Creole languages.

Sections 1 and 2 of Writing in English (Chapters 1 - 7)
Chapters 1 and 2 of West Indians and their Languages
CAPE Study Guides 8, 9 and 10

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Language variety

All human societies use language. Some societies use just one and are said to be monolingual. Most societies use more than one language. Such societies are bilingual, trilingual or even multilingual. Sometimes individuals within a society might be bilingual or multilingual. There is a difference between a society that is bilingual and an individual who is bilingual. In bilingual societies such as Canada, provision is sometimes made for equal treatment for speakers of either language. Road signs and other public use of language are often presented in both languages. The bilingual individual usually has to make a choice of language depending on her audience.

Usually the history of a language is the history of the people who speak it. The Caribbean provides good examples of this. It is a complex linguistic area. The original inhabitants spoke, and in places like Guyana and Suriname still speak, a range of indigenous languages brought to the region many hundred years ago. These languages are mainly the Arawaccan or Cariban language groups but there are also speakers of Warrau.

The official languages of the Caribbean are local or regional forms of European languages such as Spanish, French, Dutch and English. In the special case of Haiti, the French-lexicon Creole language, called Haitian, is also regarded as an official language along with French.

It must be remembered that many of the Europeans who came to the Caribbean territories were themselves speakers of non standard dialects of English.

(Required reading: Writing in English Chapters 1-4).

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Language - its origins and characteristics

Many animal and even plant species are said to ‘communicate’ with each other. Humans are not unique in this capability. However, human language is unique in being a symbolic communication system that is learned instead of biologically inherited.

Symbols are sounds or things which have meaning given to them by the users. Originally, the meaning is arbitrarily assigned. For instance, the English word "dog" does not in any way physically resemble the animal it stands for. All symbols have a material form but the meaning can not be discovered by mere sensory examination of their forms. They are abstractions.

A major advantage of human language being a learned symbolic communication system is that it is infinitely flexible. Meanings can be changed and new symbols created. This is evidenced by the fact that new words are invented daily and the meaning of old ones change.

Languages evolve in response to changing historical and social conditions. Some language transformations typically occur in a generation or less. For instance, the slang words used by your parents were very likely different from those that you use today. You also probably are familiar with many technical terms, such as "text messaging" and "high definition TV", that were not in general use even a decade ago.

* Additional reading: Writing in English Chapters 1-2

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