Nation language

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"Nation language" is the term now commonly preferred to describe the work of writers from the Caribbean and the African diaspora in non-standard English, as opposed to the traditional designation of it as "dialect".

In the words of Kamau Brathwaite, who is considered the authority of note on nation language and a key exemplar of its use:[1] "We in the Caribbean have a [...] kind of plurality: we have English, which is the imposed language on much of the archipelago. It is an imperial language, as are French, Dutch and Spanish. We also have what we call creole English, which is a mixture of English and an adaptation that English took in the new environment of the Caribbean when it became mixed with the other imported languages. We have also what is called nation language, which is the kind of English spoken by the people who were brought to the Caribbean, not the official English now, but the language of slaves and labourers, the servants who were brought in."[2]

Writers who also notably use nation language include Samuel Selvon, Louise Bennett, Archie Markham, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Marc Matthews, John Agard, Jean Binta Breeze, as well as others of a younger generation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Montague Kobbe, "Caribbean Identity and Nation Language in Kamau Brathwaite's Poetry", MEMO FROM LA-LA LAND, 23 December 2010.
  2. ^ Brathwaite, History of the Voice: The Development of Nation Language in Anglophone Caribbean Poetry (New Beacon Books, 1984), pp. 5-6.

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