Kokoy

Kokoy is the lingua franca of the Marigot and Woodford Hill communities in Dominica’s Northeast region. It is also spoken in Clifton, in Zicak and Glanvillia in Portsmouth and in Roger. It is considered an English creole language similar to that spoken in Jamaica or Antigua.

Kokoy was introduced to Dominica by immigrants from Antigua and Montserrat towards the end of the 19th century.Those hard-working persons were largely of the Protestant faith in particular Methodists. They worked on the estates of Hatton Garden, Londonderry and Eden at Wesley as well as on the Woodford Hill Estate.

Like its Dominica Creole sister language Kwéyòl, many-viewed Kokoy as the language of the unlearned, illiterate and especially the working class peasants. Some persons characterized Kokoy as bad or broken English in the same way that Kwéyòl was regarded as a patois or broken French.

Nowadays, Kokoy enjoys a greater acceptance in the wider society and Kokoy speakers want official recognition as a valid language for their native tongue. A Kokoy Committee was established during the nineties to encourage preservation and promotion of the Kwéyòl language. A Kokoy language programme was aired on DBS Radio. These efforts have been short-lived.

In terms of usage, Kokoy lends character and drama to social commentary of Carnival songs, the rhythmic hauling and digging songs, the spellbinding oratory of folktales, and the reverential essence of vernacular praise for God himself. The common use of Kokoy by persons of advanced educational standard underscores this point.

Kokoy remains quite distinct from Standard English. Both in morphology and phonic structure, kooky is similar to West African languages while its actual speech patterns parallel those of the English Creoles spoken in Jamaica.