The cantankerous public discourse generated by the author’s bilingual newspaper columns published in the Jamaica Observer (May 1993 to January 1998) and the Jamaica Gleaner (March 2013 to the present) illustrates the conservative, neocolonial language ideology that still prevails in Jamaica. The essay demonstrates how contestations around national identity are articulated in a repressive language of moral authority. Speakers of “good” (English) and “bad” (Jamaican) language varieties become embattled in a struggle for the control of public terrain. The essay concludes that the “bilingual” model of Jamaican/English language identity has very little currency in a society that still privileges the “command” of English as a sign of the intellectual abilities of its habitual speakers/writers and that disparages competence in Jamaican as a marker of intellectual deficiency. Nevertheless, the author sees hopeful signs that the Jamaican language is gradually gaining national prominence.

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