Speakers from a semi-rural community within the
Jamaican Creole continuum were asked what kind of linguistic
entity they believe the Creole to be, where it is in use,
whom they understand to be its users, and which domains
they deem appropriate and inappropriate for its use. A
language-attitude interview schedule yielding an Attitude
Indicator Score (AIS) was developed for use in this community.
This schedule contained two sets of questions, attitude
and description questions, which were designed
to capture information concerning overt and covert language
attitudes. Results show respondents' attitude systems
to be multi-valued: They were generally ambivalent in their
attitudes toward Jamaican Creole, but they judged it appropriate
or inappropriate for use in different contexts according
to their social distance from or solidarity with an interlocutor.
Gender grading and an age × gender effect were found.
This paper is considerably
expanded from a presentation made at NWAV 24, October 12–15,
1995. Fieldwork for this study was supported by a grant from
the University of Michigan, Program in Linguistics. For their
advice and insightful comments, I thank Lesley Milroy,
John Rickford, an anonymous reviewer, and William Bright.
My deepest thanks go to members of the Gordon Town community,
particularly the principal and students of the Gordon Town
All-Age School, who shared with me their facilities, their ideas,
and their interest in the topic. Ken Guire, James Lepkowski, and
Rose Venzuela provided assistance in the statistical analysis of data.
After all this support and more, any errors and shortcomings
of this study are the sole responsibility of this author.