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Bajan: The Creole Language of Barbados

Bajan: The Creole Language of Barbados

Barbados is a small Caribbean island that was, as of 1995, home to 259,000 residents - a population that increases significantly during the tourist season ("Bajan: A Language of Barbados" 1). English has been the official language of Barbados since its early settlement days by English colonists, but most people also speak a dialect of Bajan, the Creole language that has developed over time and which is unique to this setting. This report will examine Bajan in terms of its linguistic components and will also describe the development of Barbadian culture which has given rise to this language.

Bajan must be recognized as a Creole tongue - defined by O'Grady, Dobrovolsky and Aronoff (533) as a language that, having originated as a pidgin, has become established as a first language in some speech communities. In many instances, Creoles that have become established as first languages continue to exist alongside the standard or higher status language that was originally pidginized. The standard language (in this case English) usually serves as the language of education and administration and business. O'Grady, et al (533) note that: "The Creole, not having the stabilizing base of a written tradition and likely subject to the influence of the standard, tends to change more rapidly over time."

Generally, Bajan is a rhotic language. Wikipedia (1, 1) described such languages as follows:

English pronunciation is divided into two main accent groups, the rhotic and the non-rhotic, depending on when the letter r (equivalent to Greek rho) is pronounced. Rhotic speakers pronounce written [r] in all positions (except in certain French borrowings where it is never pronounced, like dossier), while non-rhotic speakers pronounce it only if it is followed by a vowel. In linguistic terms, non-rhotic accents are said to exclude [r] in the syllable coda. This is commonly referred to as postvocalic R, a...

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Bajan: The Creole Language of Barbados. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:04, February 22, 2017, from