The University of Arizona

A Comparison of the Structural Composition of the Auxiliary in Standard American English and in Jamaican Creole

Vivette Milson-Whyte


Linguists generally agree that Jamaican Creole (JC), like other Caribbean English Creoles (CECs), is lexically related to English but differs markedly from it in terms of phonology and syntax. There is, however, less agreement regarding the ordering of auxiliary elements in the JC verb phrase. Drawing on studies that either treat individual auxiliary elements and compare them across Creoles or address Creole auxiliary constructions without including the passive, as well as on observations of patterns in the speech of native JC speakers, this paper explores the structural similarities and differences between the elements in the fixed American English (AE) auxiliary and the flexible JC auxiliary – including the passive – that is proposed. The analysis should prove useful to North American teachers of JC-speaking students.

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