The right to linguistic non-discrimination and Creole language situations
The case of Jamaica
There has been a proposal to include language as a basis upon which discrimination should be proscribed in the Constitution of Jamaica. The proposal was considered in 2001 by a parliamentary committee which articulated certain concerns largely about the legal ramifications of a right not to be discriminated against on the ground of language. Central to the committee’s concerns are the nature and extent of the legal obligations that may arise for the state in a situation in which English is the de facto official language but in which Jamaican Creole, a largely oral, low status vernacular, not highly mutually intelligible with English, is the dominant language for a majority of Jamaicans. This article explores the concerns of the parliamentary committee. It draws upon legal decisions and principles from other jurisdictions in the area of discrimination involving language and attempts an assessment of the applicability of such principles to the Jamaican language situation and Creole language situations in general.
Keywords: language right, Constitution of Jamaica, Jamaican Creole, language non-discrimination, minority language
Published online: 18 April 2008
Cited by 8 other publications
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