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 [dɪˈpaːɹʔmənʔs].

  • The Kit Vowel: The realization of the kit vowel in Barbadian English is pretty much the same as in American English, the default [ɪ].
  • The Dress Vowel: The vowel of dress is [ɛ].
  • The Trap Vowel: This vowel is usually [a].
  • The Lot Vowel: This vowel is usually [ɑ] or [ɒ].
  • The Strut Vowel: It is the same as in the US English, [ʌ].
  • The Foot Vowel: It is [ʊ].
  • The Fleece Vowel: It's [iː].
  • The Face Vowel: It's generally [eː], sometimes [eɪ].
  • The Palm Vowel: It is mostly [aː].
  • The Thought Vowel: The vowel of thought is [ɑː] or [ɒː].
  • The Goat Vowel: It's generally [oː] or [oə].
  • The Near Sound: It's [eːɹ].
  • The Square Sound: It's [eːɹ].
  • The Start Vowel: It's [aːɹ].
  • The North Vowel: The vowel in north is usually [ɑːɹ] or [ɒːɹ].
  • The Force Vowel: The vowel in force is usually [oːɹ].
  • The Cure Sound: The sound in cure is usually [oːɹ].
  • The Bath Vowel: This vowel is mostly [aː].
  • The Cloth Vowel: It is mostly [ɒː].
  • The Nurse Vowel: It's [ɤ].
  • The Goose vowel: It's mostly [uː].
  • The Price/Prize Dithphong: It's generally [ʌɪ].
  • The Choice Diphthong: It's either [ʌɪ] or [oɪ].
  • The Mouth Diphthong: It is [ʌʊ].
  • The happY vowel: It is pretty much the fleece vowel: [iː].
  • The lettEr Vowel: It's [ɤ].
  • The horsEs Vowel: It's [ɪ].
  • The commA vowel: It's [ə].
  • Trap and lot vowels are not merged in Barbadian English. However the vowels of lot, cloth and thought are generally merged. The realization of the face vowel varies by region and education/class. The face vowel is manifested in educated speech generally by [eː] or [eɪ], and in rural and uneducated speech by the vowel [ɛ].

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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