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The Languages spoken in Barbados

Barbados, a former British colony, was the center of sugar production in the Caribbean. The plantations were worked on by slaves brought in from other parts of the world, mostly from Africa. To discourage rebellion, other languages were discouraged by the British overlords among the slaves as punishments were meted out to those who speak other tongues other than English. Eventually, the slaves learned English as it became the only means to communicate with other slaves from other countries. With the abolition of slavery in the 1800s, the African slaves got to practice their native tongues and have somehow mixed them with English creating a new form of English called in modern day Barbados as Barbadian Creole English or simply Bajan.

Bajan dialect basically is a combination of British English and West African and some words from neighboring Caribbean Islands. The mixture of elements from three different languages gave Bajan a distinct speech pattern and vocabulary as well. A noticeable difference of Bajan from English is that the “th” sound is pronounced the same with the letter D and so the word “the” is pronounced as “de.” Then when the “th” sound is at the end of the word, it becomes an “f” sound so the word “north” becomes a “norf” and “truth” would sound as “truf.” Bajan would also tend to drop forms of the verb to be when spoken. So when to two Barbadians are talking, it would be common to hear broken English phrases. To illustrate, the phrase “I am lonely” would be spoken only as “I lonely.”

Although Barbadians have a sort of broken English dialect between them, they can speak straight English when they want to as English is still the primary language prevailing in the country.


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