English in Barbados

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Barbadian English or Bajan English is a dialect of the English language as used by Barbadians (Bajans) and by Barbadian diasporas. It should not be confused with Bajan Creole, which is an English-based creole language.


Barbadian English is very rhotic and full of glottal stops. It is also very ubiquitous for the first vowel in price or prize.[clarification needed] One example of Barbadian English would be the pronunciation of departments, which is IPA: [dɪˈpaːɹʔmənʔs].

  • The realization of the KIT vowel /ɪ/ in Barbadian English is pretty much the same as in American English, the default [ɪ].
  • The DRESS vowel /ɛ/ is [ɛ].
  • The TRAP vowel /æ/ is usually [a].
  • The LOT vowel /ɒ/ is usually [ɑ] or [ɒ].
  • The STRUT vowel /ʌ/ is the same as in the US English, [ʌ].
  • The FOOT vowel /ʊ/ is [ʊ].
  • The FLEECE vowel // is [].
  • The FACE diphthong // varies by region and education/class: it manifests in educated speech generally as [] or sometimes [eɪ], and in rural and uneducated speech as the vowel [ɛ].
  • The PALM vowel /ɑː/ is mostly [].
  • The THOUGHT vowel /ɔː/ is [ɑː] or [ɒː].
  • The GOAT diphthong // is generally [] or [oə].
  • The NEAR diphthong /ɪər/ and the SQUARE diphthong /ɛər/ are both [eːɹ].
  • The START vowel /ɑːr/ is [aːɹ].
  • The NORTH vowel /ɔːr/ is usually [ɑːɹ] or [ɒːɹ].
  • The FORCE diphthong /ɔːr/ and the CURE diphthong /ʊər/ are both usually [oːɹ].
  • The BATH vowel /ɑː/ is mostly [aː].
  • The CLOTH vowel /ɔː/ is mostly [ɒː].
  • The NURSE vowel /ɜːr/ is [ɤ].
  • The GOOSE vowel // is mostly [].
  • The PRICE/ PRIZE diphthong // is generally [ʌɪ].
  • The CHOICE diphthong /ɔɪ/ is either [ʌɪ] or [oɪ].
  • The MOUTH diphthong // is [ʌʊ].
  • The final HAPPY vowel /i/ is pretty much alike the FLEECE vowel [iː].
  • The final LETTER vowel /ər/ is [ɤ].
  • The final HORSES vowel /ɪ/ is [ɪ].
  • The final COMMA vowel /ə/ is [ə].
  • The TRAP and LOT vowels are not merged in Barbadian English. However the vowels of LOT, CLOTH and THOUGHT are generally merged.

See also


  • Schneider, E.W.; Kortmann, B. (2004). A Handbook of Varieties of English: Morphology and syntax. Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 9783110175325.

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