The Languages in Conflict

  • Hubert DevonishEmail author
  • Karen Carpenter


To understand Jamaica’s linguistic place in the world, we need to go back to the beginning of Jamaica as an independent state in 1962. M.G. Smith, a pre-eminent ‘Brown’ Jamaican social anthropologist of the mid- to late twentieth century carries out his scholarly work using the sociological theory of the plural society (J.S. Furnivall in Smith, The British Journal of Sociology, 12, 249–262, 1961). Smith builds his career on the notion of the plural society which emphasizes the dominance of colonially imposed divisions among colonized peoples who coexist in the same society. Smith (The British Journal of Sociology, 12, 1961, p. 165) presents Jamaica as consisting of three ‘social sections’. He uses colours, ‘white’, ‘brown’ and ‘black’, as descriptors for these groups on the ground that they accurately describe ‘the racial majority and cultural ancestry of each section’ (Smith, The British Journal of Sociology, 12, 1961, pp. 163–164).


Social sections Plural society White Brown Black 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Language, Linguistics & PhilosophyUniversity of the West IndiesMonaJamaica
  2. 2.Caribbean Sexuality Research GroupKingstonJamaica

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