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London English…from Cockneys to Jafaicans

If you thought Standard English was difficult, you might like to try your hand at the latest London English dialect, ‘Jafaican’, or to give it its more academic sounding title, Multicultural London English ( MLE). This dialect is now quite embedded and widespread in Inner London, mostly among young people. It has been strongly influenced by Jamaican but with undertones of West African and Indian thrown in.. It is often called ‘Jafaican’ meaning ‘fake Jamaican’, suggesting that it is largely spoken by white kids trying to be cool. However, this is unfair and inaccurate, as in reality, young people from all backgrounds growing up in Inner London have been exposed to the mixture of second-language English and local London English that has resulted in this new dialect of MLE. If you wanted a quick and amusing reference to MLE then you could do worse than check out the comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen’s comic creation, Ali G, who delivers his comic routines in a colourful version of the dialect. In some London boroughs, for example, MLE has taken over from Cockney, the prevailing London accent for many generations, as inner-city white youths picked up the speech patterns of their black and Asian classmates. Not that surprising when you consider that four out of ten London residents are now from ethnic minority backgrounds. To get a feel for this new version of London English, compare the following snippets of speech shown in both MLE and Standard English. MLE ( Jafaican) Safe, man. You lookin buff in dem low batties. Dey's sick, man. Me? I'm just jammin wid me bruds. Dis my yard, innit? Is nang, you get me? No? What ends you from then? Standard English Hi man. You’re looking good in those trousers. They’re good man. Me? I’m just hanging out with my mates (friends). This is my home, isn’t it? It’s cool, you understand? No? What neighbourhood are you from?

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