As we have seen, Sam Selvon’s position as an outsider from the “mainstream ideological convention” allows him to break away from these conventions and to generate a writing that really goes away from the normative literary ideologies of the time. The third aspect of this disruption, after the literary style and the construction of the plot, is the language used in the Lonely Londoners which is a “creolized English” or “nation language” which Sam Selvon wanted to be a “modi?ed dialect which could be understood by European readers, yet retain the ?avour and essence of Trinidadian speech” (Critical Perspective on Sam Selvon, Susheila Nasta, p.66). Indeed, language is often one of the technique that the postcolonial writers use in their fictions to illustrate the cultural distance they feel from the literature of the colonizing power. It’s also a way to claim their place – and displacement – and build up an identity away from the “Englishness” that pressures them.
Sam Selvon chose to use the same “Creolized English” to express the narrative voice and the main characters, instead of putting the narrator in a “Standard English” and the characters in this “Creolized English”. He completely removes all the difference that could be thought or seen between the situation of the narrative voice and the characters it describes. Moreover, it is the clear expression of this “collective identity”, that is felt throughout the Lonely Londoners, who, like in the story itself, are rejecting “Standard English” and thus the power it could have on them, as with the example of Harris who is made fun of by the other Caribbean men because he using the “proper English”; “Man, when Harris start to spout English for you, you realise that you don’t know the language” (the Lonely Londoners, p.
103). Thus, it avoids this authority that the narrative voice would have had, if speaking in “Standard English”, on the characters – who would be using dialect. Furthermore, Sam Selvon while creating this “Creolized English” or “dialect” used some abrogation and appropriation from Standard English. These two techniques can be seen in two different ways – as it is the case with the whole text who addresses two distinct audience. In fact, these techniques have different interpretations depending on the perspective taken upon them; from the “white mainstream British audience” perspective, the process of “abrogation” can be seen as some kind of rejection of the cultural centre and thus of the Standard English as the embodiment of the cultural assumptions and the power relations; from the “subcultural group of black settlers audience” perspective, the process of “appropriation” is more of a way to establish and impose an subcultural identity which is taking control, which is independent from the colonial power and which is thus undermining the colonial language. Sam Selvon’s process of language in the Lonely Londoners also has different political and ideological implications. Actually, we could argue that this inconsistency within the style of language and the techniques used to produce this effect generates a feeling of resistance towards the normative domination of Standard English within the novels of this period in the Western genre.
Thus, he ended up creating – through all these modifications of the English language – a narrative voice that correlates with all his Caribbean characters. The narrative voice in the Lonely Londoners who is relating all the events that are happening in the story and who is introducing each characters is alive through Moses consciousness and as a result speaks in the same exact way – as we saw before – as the other characters. The narrator and the other members of this immigrant collectivity are expressing themselves the same way which is Sam Selvon’s way of shifting the normative “narrator observer” into a “narrator participant” in his story. The fusion of this Creolized English with the Standard English is a way to disrupt the latter and to politically challenge and go against the ideological assumptions upon which “white dominant British society” rests.
Likewise, the interruption of the dominant forms of language which is Standard English also portrays a consecutive disruption of all the normative ideologies that goes with the language in itself and that is exactly what Sam Selvon manages to do in the Lonely Londoners. However, to fully understand Sam Selvon’s choices in term of linguistic techniques and narrative forms in the Lonely Londoners, we have to take into consideration the social, cultural and literary climate of his period. During the literary context of 1950s, the techniques that he used are really innovative of the time, as Sam Selvon said himself; ” I think I can say without a trace of modesty that I was the first Caribbean writer to explore and employ dialect in a full-length novel where it was used in both narrative and dialogue” (Form and Language in Sam Selvon’s the Lonely Londoners, Nick Bentley, p.
71). This will and need for experimentation in the language style also came out from the fact that Standard English was not completely adequate to fully apprehend and translate the consciousness of the black Caribbean migrants while retained the rhythm and melody of the Caribbean speech and thus culture. In order to obtain a truthful Caribbean speech in the Lonely Londoners, Sam Selvon chose to go through some linguistics modifications and alterations, as for example, the use of Caribbean “slang words” such as “fellar”, “spade” or the process of shortening words – or the process of elision – as with the verb “to be”; “I too glad to see you, boy. If you don’t mind I want you to come with me.” (p.25). And finally, the omission of the “s” at the third person of singular in present simple; “Galahad start to stammer, all the big talk left him now” (p.
24). All of this, plus of course the altered syntax throughout the whole text, not only create a close depiction of what could be the Caribbean speech but is also a way of Sam Selvon to keep and capture the rhythm of the Caribbean speech and to translate it truthfully in the text. But paradoxically, and no matter how truthful this “creolized English” might appears it is completely artificially created and thus don’t match nor represent any real dialect spoken in the Caribbean but is more of a combination of different dialects as well as some appropriation of Standard English.
This is, once again, completely innovative for the time and a way to take so distancefrom the normative ideologies of the time and with a new language or dialect which translates the mix and struggle that the main characters have to face and live with in the Lonely Londoners.