Bahamian English

Bahamian English is a group of varieties of English spoken in the Bahamas and by members of the Bahamian diaspora. The standard for official use and education is British-based with regard to spelling, vocabulary, and pronunciation;[1] however, perceptions of the standard are more recently changing towards American norms. In particular, 21st-century news-industry and younger Bahamian speakers are often more influenced in their pronunciations by General American English, or sometimes even African-American Vernacular English.[1]

Bahamian English
RegionThe Bahamas
Early forms
Language codes
ISO 639-3
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The Bahamian accent is traditionally non-rhotic, but often now rhotic among younger speakers.[1][2]

The realization of vowels in Bahamian English is as follows. The vowels below are named by the lexical set they belong to:

  • The Kit vowel: The same as in American English, the default [ɪ].
  • The Dress vowel: The vowel is [ɛ].
  • The Trap vowel: This vowel is mostly [a] or [æ].
  • The Lot vowel: As mostly of the US, this vowel is usually [ɑ].
  • The Strut vowel: It is the same as in the US English, [ʌ].
  • The Foot vowel: It is [ʊ].
  • The Fleece vowel: It is [i] or a diphthong [ɪi].
  • The Face diphthong: It is generally [eɪ] or [ɛɪ].
  • The Palm vowel: It is mostly [ɑ].
  • The Thought vowel: The vowel is [ɔ].
  • The Goat diphthong: It is generally [ɵʊ] or [oʊ].
  • The Near diphthong: It is [eə] or [iə].
  • The Square diphthong: It is [eə].
  • The Start vowel: It is [ɑː].
  • The North diphthong: usually [ɔə].
  • The Force diphthong: usually [oə].
  • The Cure diphthong: usually [uə].
  • The Bath vowel: This vowel is mostly [a] or [æ].
  • The Cloth vowel: It is mostly [ɔ].
  • The Nurse vowel: It varies among [ə], [ɜ] and [ɜi].
  • The Goose vowel: It is mostly [ʉː].
  • The Price/Prize Dithphong: It's generally [ɑɪ].
  • The Choice diphthong: It is [oɪ] or [ɑɪ].
  • The Mouth diphthong: It varies among [ao], [aɵ] [aɛ] and [ɑə].
  • The happY vowel: It is pretty much the kit vowel: [ɪ].
  • The lettEr-horsEs-commA vowel is [ə] (schwa).

There is poor distinction between the [v] and [w] sounds in Bahamian English.[3] The contrast is often neutralized or merged into [v], [b] or [β], so village sounds like [wɪlɪdʒ], [vɪlɪdʒ] or [βɪlɪdʒ]. This also happens in the Vincentian, Bermudian and other Caribbean Englishes.

Dental fricatives are usually changed to alveolar plosives (th-stopping):

  • Voiced th becomes /d/, e.g. "That" turns into "dat"; "Those" > "Dose"; "There" > "Dere"; "They" > "Dey".
  • Unvoiced th becomes /t/, e.g. "Thanks" becomes "tanks"; "Throw" > "Trow"; "Three" > "Tree".




  1. ^ a b c Ammon, Ulrich; Dittmar, Norbert; Mattheier, Klaus J. (2006). Sociolinguistics: An International Handbook of the Science of Language and Society. Walter de Gruyter. p. 2069. ISBN 978-3-11-018418-1. British-based standard Bahamian English is the official language [...] Although standard Bahamian is non-rhotic, many Bahamians view r-full American pronunciations as "correct" and try to imitate them, even to the extent of introducing a hypercorrect /r/ in [...] Baharmas.
  2. ^ Wells, J. C. (1982). Accents of English. 3: Beyond the British Isles. Cambridge U. Press. p. 570. ISBN 978-0-521-28541-4. The accents of Trinidad and the other Windward and Leeward Islands, and of the Bahamas, are non-rhotic. Jamaica and Guyana occupy intermediate positions, with variable semi-rhoticity.
  3. ^ Childs, Becky; Wolfram, Walt (2008). "Bahamian English: phonology". In Schneider, Edgar W. (ed.). Varieties of English. 2: The Americas and the Caribbean. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 239–255.