The Info List - Bahamian Creole

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Bahamian Creole (known as Bahamian dialect or Bahamianese) is an English-based creole language spoken mainly in the Bahamas
and Turks and Caicos Islands. Bahamianese is spoken by both white and black Bahamians, although in slightly different forms. Bahamianese also tends to be more prevalent in certain areas of the Bahamas. Islands that were settled earlier or that have a historically large Afro-Bahamian population have a greater concentration of individuals exhibiting creolized speech; the creole is most prevalent in urban areas.[3] Individual speakers have command of lesser and greater creolized forms. Bahamianese also shares similar features with other Caribbean English-based creoles, such as those of Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Saint Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Guyana, and the Virgin Islands. There is also a very significant link between Bahamian and the Gullah language of South Carolina, as many Bahamians are descendants of slaves brought to the islands from the Gullah
region after the American revolution.[citation needed] In comparison to many of the English-based creoles of the Caribbean region, limited research has been conducted on what is known as Bahamian Creole. This lack of research on Bahamian Creole is perhaps because for many years, Bahamians have assumed that this language is simply a variety of English. However, academic research shows that this is not the case. In fact, there is much socio-historical and linguistic evidence to support the proposal that it is a creole language.[4]


1 Pronunciation 2 Grammar

2.1 Verbs

3 Lexicon

3.1 Examples

4 See also 5 References 6 Bibliography 7 External links

Pronunciation[edit] Though there is variation between black and white speakers, there is a tendency for speakers to drop /h/ or, in a hypercorrection, to add it to words without it so harm and arm are pronounced the same. The merger occurs most often in the speech of Abaco and north Eleuthera.[5] Some speakers have merged /v/ and /w/ into a single phoneme and pronounce words with [v] or [w] depending on context (the latter appearing in word-initial position and the former appearing elsewhere).[6] Outside of white acrolectal speech, speakers have no dental fricatives and English cognate words are usually pronounced with [d] or [t] as in dis ('this') and tink ('think').[5] Other characteristics of Bahamian Creole in comparison to English include:[5]

Merger of the vowels of fair and fear into [ɛə] Free variation of the "happy" vowel between [ɪ] and [i]. The vowel of first merges with that of fuss (into [ʌ]) among some and with the vowel of foist (into [ʌɪ]) in others. As the creole is non-rhotic; /r/ is not pronounced unless it is before a vowel. Final clusters are often simplified, especially when they share voicing (gold > gol, but not milk > *mil). The pin–pen merger occurs.

Grammar[edit] Pronouns in Bahamianese are generally the same as in Standard English. However, the second person plural can take one of three forms:

yinna, y'all or all a ya

Possessive pronouns in Bahamianese often differ from Standard English with:

your becoming or ya his or hers becoming he or she


their becoming dey.

For example, das ya book? means 'is that your book?' In addition, the possessive pronouns differ from Standard English:[citation needed]

English Bahamian

mine mines

yours yawnz (s.) or yawz (s.)

yinnas (pl.)

his he own

hers har own

ours ah own

theirs dey own/ders

When describing actions done alone or by a single group, only..one is used, as in only me one sing ('I'm the only one who sang') and only Mary one gern Nassau ('Mary was the only one who went to Nassau') Verbs[edit] Verb usage in the Bahamianese differs significantly from that of Standard English. There is also variation amongst speakers. For example, the word go: 1) I'm going to Freeport:

I goin ta Freeport I gern ta Freeport I gun go Freeport

2) I am going to cook

I ga cook I goin cook I gern cook I gern go cook

Similarly, verb "to do" has numerous variations depending on tense and context:

I does eat conch erry day ('I eat conch every day') Wa you does do? ('what kind of work do you do?') "he gone dat way" (used while pointing in a direction,means that is where the person went).

In the present tense, the verb "to be" is usually conjugated "is" regardless of the grammatical person:

I am – I is or "Ise” (pronounced "eyes") You are – You is or "You's", pronounced "use" We are – We is or "We's", pronounced "weez" They are – Dey is or "Dey's"

The negative form of "to be" usually takes the form "een" I een gern ('I am not goin') Bahamians commonly merge the negative "een" to the subject/person being used, turning "I een" to "Ine (sometimes spelled I'n)".

I am not - "Ine" or "I'n" You are not - "Youne" or "You'n" He/She is not - "Hene/ Shene" or "He'n/ She'n" We are not - "Wene" or "We'n" They are not - "Deyne" or "Dey'n" That is not - "Dine" ( the 't' in "that" is usually left off, and the vowels in 'dat' + 'een' are often blended together, forming an /I/ sound)

While context is often used to indicate tense (e.g. I drink plenny rum las night = 'I drank a lot of rum last night'), the past tense can also be formed by combining "did", "done", "gone", or "been" with the verb:

She tell him already (She already told him) I dun (done) tell you He tell her she was fat ('he told her she was fat') Why you do dat? ('why did you do that?') I bin (been) Eleuthera
last week ('I went to Eleuthera
last week')

Lexicon[edit] Holm & Shilling (1982) features over 5,500 words and phrases not found in Standard English, with the authors attempting to link them to other English-based creoles, like Gullah.[3] Words may derive from English, as well as some African languages. Examples[edit]

asue: a cooperative savings system traced to a Yoruba custom of éèsú or èsúsú;[7] similar schemes are common in other Caribbean countries, e.g. the susu in Barbados. benny: sesame seed, grown locally and used in the popular treat benny cake[8] found in various forms throughout the African Diaspora. Conchy Joe or Conky Joe: a white Bahamian.[9] jook, juck or juke: to stab or poke, possibly from the West African word of the same meaning.[10] This word is found in many Caribbean creole languages Obeah: Witchcraft.[9]

See also[edit]

language Turks and Caicos Creole Jamaican Creole Haitian Creole, a French-based Creole spoken in the Bahamas


^ Bahamian Creole English at Ethnologue
(18th ed., 2015) ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bahamian Gullah". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ a b Reaser (2010:161) ^ McPhee, Helen. "Is Bahamian Dialect a Creole? Archived June 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine." ^ a b c Holm & Shilling (1982:viii) ^ Wells (1982:589) ^ Holm & Shilling (1982:5–6) ^ Holm & Shilling (1982:16) ^ a b Holm & Shilling (1982:49) ^ Holm & Shilling (1982:115)


Holm, John A.; Shilling, Alison Watt (1982), Dictionary of Bahamian English, Cold Spring, New York: Lexik House, ISBN 978-0-936368-03-0  Reaser, Jeffrey (2010), "Bahamian English", in Schreier, Daniel; Trudgill, Peter; Schneider, Edgar W.; Williams, Jeffrey, The Lesser Known Varieties of English: An Introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 158–170  Wells, John Christopher (1982), Accents of English: Beyond the British Isles, 3, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 

External links[edit]

Bahamian Creole test of at Wikimedia Incubator

Bahamian English Resources

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The Bahamas articles


Battle of Nassau Colonial heads Eleutheran Adventurers American Civil War Raid on Charles Town Raid on Nassau Battle of Nassau
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(1782) Capture of the Bahamas



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Demographics Ethnic groups Education Languages Religion LGBT rights in the Bahamas Culture Coat of Arms Creole Flag Films Music Television Anthem National Song Pledge

Outline Index Bibliography

Book Category Portal

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English-based creole languages

Anguilla Bahamas Barbados Belize Bocas del Toro Cayman Islands Grenada Guyana Jamaica Leeward Islands Limón Mosquito Coast Montserrat Rama Cay Roatán Saint Kitts Samaná San Andrés Saint Vincent Suriname Tobago Trinidad Turks and Caicos Isla