Caribbean English is a broad term for the dialects of the English language spoken in the Caribbean, most countries on the Caribbean coast of Central America, and Guyana. Caribbean English is influenced by the English-based Creole varieties spoken in the region, but they are not the same. In the Caribbean, there is a great deal of variation in the way English is spoken. Scholars generally agree that although the dialects themselves vary significantly in each of these countries, they all have roots in 17th-century English and African languages.


The English in daily use in the Caribbean include a different set of pronouns, typically, me, meh, or mi, you, yuh, he, she, it, we, wi or alawe, allyuh or unu, and dem or day. I, mi, my, he, she, ih, it, we, wi or alawe, allayu or unu, and dem, den, deh for "them" with Central Americans.

Other features:

  • Consonant changes like h-dropping or th-stopping are common.
  • Some might be "sing-songish": Trinidad, Bahamas
  • Rhotic: Bajan (Barbadian), Guyanese
  • Influenced by Irish English dialects: Jamaican
  • An accent influenced by any of the above, as well as Spanish and indigenous languages: Central American English dialects such as the Belizean Creole (Kriol), or the Mískito Coastal Creole and Rama Cay Creole spoken in Nicaragua

However, the English used in media, education and business and in formal or semi-formal discourse approaches the internationally understood variety of Standard English, but with an Afro-Caribbean cadence.


Standard English: Where is that boy? /hwɛər ɪz ðæt bÉ"ɪ/

  • Barbados: 'Wherr iz dat boi?' ([hwer ɪz dæt bÉ"ɪ]) (Spoken very quickly, is choppy, rhotic, and contains glottal stops)
  • San Andrés and Providencia: 'Wer iz dat boi at?' ([hwer ɪz dæt bÉ"ɪ at])
  • Jamaica: 'Weh dah bwoy deh deh?' ([weh da buoy de]) (sporadic rhoticity; Irish and Scottish influence); or 'Wey iz dat boi?' [weɪ ɪz dæt bÉ"ɪ] (non-rhotic; similar to the accents of south western England and Wales))
  • Belize: 'Weh iz dat bwoy deh?' ( [weh ɪz dÉ't bÉ"ɪ deɪ]) (British and North American influence, deeper in tone)
  • Trinidad: 'Wey iz dat boy?'
  • Bahamas: 'Wey dat boy iz?' [Some would more likely say bey instead of boy]
  • Guyana and Tobago: 'Weyr iz daht boy/bai?' (urban) or 'Wey dat boy dey?' (rural) ([weɪɹ ɪz dÉ't baɪ]) (Many variations dependent on urban/rural location, Afro or Indo descent or area, and competency in standard English; Sporadic rhoticity )
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: 'Wey iz dat boy dey?' ([weɪ ɪz dæt bÉ"ɪ deɪ]) (Non-rhotic)
  • Belize, Nicaragua, the Bay Islands, Limón, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands: 'Wehr iz daht booy?' ([weɹ ɪz dÉ't buɪ]) (Distinct, sporadic rhoticity, pronunciation becomes quite different from "Creole" pronunciation.)
  • Dominica: 'Weh dat boy nuh?'/'Weh dat boy be nuh?' (Spoken harshly and with a deep tone)

The written form of the English language in the former and current British controlled Caribbean countries conforms to the spelling and grammar styles of Britain.

See also


Caribbean English
  • Freed, Kenneth (May 11, 1993). "Regional Outlook Caribbeanspeak The areas languages range from Creole to Patois, from English to French. And therein lies a growing dispute involving power and equality". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  • Aceto, Michael (2004). "Eastern Caribbean English-derived language varieties: morphology and syntax". A handbook of varieties of English: a multimedia reference tool, vol. 2 Editors: Edgar Werner Schneider, Bernd Kortmann: 439. ISBN 978-3-11-017532-5. 

External links

  • Linguistic map of Caribbean English dialects from Muturzikin.com
  • Caribbean English (British Library)
  • Cross-Referencing West Indian Dictionary
  • Bajan (Barbadian) dialect in NYC at the Wayback Machine (archived July 9, 2011)

Caribbean English

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