Caribbean English

Caribbean English (CE, CarE) is a set of dialects of the English language which are spoken in the Caribbean and Liberia, most countries on the Caribbean coast of Central America, and Guyana and Suriname on the coast of South America. Caribbean English is influenced by, but is distinct to, the English-based creole languages spoken in the region. Though dialects of Caribbean English vary structurally and phonetically across the region, all are primarily derived from British English and West African languages. In countries with a plurality Indian population, such as Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, Caribbean English has further been influenced by Hindustani and other South Asian languages.[3][4][5][note 3]

Caribbean English
RegionCommonwealth Caribbean
Native speakers
1,824,960 (2001‑21)[1][note 1]
L2: 540,200 (2003‑20) [1][note 2]
Early forms
Standard forms
  • Caribbean Standard English[2]
Dialects
Latin (English alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
Commonwealth Caribbean[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
IETFen-029
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OverviewEdit

  • The daily-used English in the Caribbean has a different set of pronouns, typically me, meh or mi, you, yuh, he, she, it, we, wi or alawe, wunna or unu, and dem or day. I, mi, my, he, she, ih, it, we, wi or alawe, allayu or unu, and dem, den, deh for "them" with Central Americans.
  • Consonant changes occur like h-dropping or th-stopping are common.
  • Some might be "sing-songish"[clarification needed] in Trinidad and the Bahamas.
  • Rhotic: Bajan (Barbadian), Guyanese
  • Influenced by Irish English: Jamaican, Bajan
  • Influenced by any of the above, as well as Spanish and indigenous languages: Central American English dialects like the Belizean Creole (Kriol), or the Mískito Coastal Creole and Rama Cay Creole spoken in Nicaragua

However, the English that is used in the media, education, and business and in formal or semi-formal discourse approaches the internationally understood variety of Standard English (British English in all former and present British territories and American English in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) but with an Afro-Caribbean cadence (Spanish cadence in Puerto Rico and the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina).

DialectsEdit

The first-order dialects deemed constituent of Caribbean English vary within scholarly literature.[citation needed] For instance, the Oxford English Dictionary includes only 'the forms of English as spoken in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Belize, the Bahamas and Barbados, as well as in some of the smaller Eastern Caribbean nations' in deriving its phonetic transcriptions.[6] The Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage further includes the dialects of Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Virgin Islands, the Netherland Antilles, Suriname, and the Turks and Caicos.[7]

Caribbean English-based creole languages are commonly (in popular literature) or sometimes (in scholarly literature) considered dialects of Caribbean English.[citation needed][note 4]

HistoryEdit

The development of Caribbean English is dated to the West Indian exploits of Elizabethan sea dogs, which are credited with introducing to England names for new-found flora and fauna via, for instance, Hakluyt's Principall Navigations of 1589 and Raleigh's Discoverie of the Empyre of Guiana of 1596.[8] As English settlements followed shortly thereafter, Caribbean English has been deemed 'the oldest exportation of that language from its British homeland.'[9]

Two sorts of anglophone immigrants to the seventeenth-century West Indies have been described in literature – the first, comprised of indentured servants and settlers mainly from southwestern England, predominantly speaking non-standard vernaculars of English; the second, comprised of colonial administrators, missionaries, and educators, predominantly speaking more standard forms of the language.[10] The former, along with African slaves, are credited with the development and spread of [non-standard-] English-derived creole languages, while the latter are noted as frequent sources of derision of such speech.[10]

FeaturesEdit

Caribbean English accents and pronunciation are variable within and across sub-dialects. For instance, Barbadian English is fully rhotic, while Jamaican English is not.[11] Further, within Jamaican English, h-dropping is common in some social classes, but uncommon in others.[12] Additionally, in territories with English-derived creole languages, the phonetic distinction between English and creole is thought to be continuous rather than discrete, with the creole acrolect differing 'only trivially' from English.[13][note 5]

Nevertheless, there is thought to be 'a general sense in which a "West Indian accent" is distinguishable as such anywhere in the world.'[14] Likely reasons for this have been described as 'the general quality of CE [Caribbean English] vowels, the sharp reduction in the number of diphthongal glides and, the most distinguishing feature of all, the phrasal intonation [and] separation of syllabic pitch and stress in CE.'[14] Broadly, the middle-register of Caribbean English is thought to contain eight fewer phonemes than Received Pronunciation.[15][note 6]

The lexicon of Caribbean English varies, to an extent, across and within sub-dialects.[16] '[T]he bulk of the vocabulary,' however, has been described as 'identical' across the region.[17] Additionally, in territories with English-derived creole languages, the lexical distinction between English and creole is thought to be continuous rather than discrete, such that 'structurally it is impossible to draw exact lines between them.'[17]

TablesEdit

Sample of phonetic features distinctive of lower-to-upper-register Caribbean English as used in at least some territories.
Feature Gloss Notes
th-stopping /th/ pronounced as /t/ eg in think or three; /th/ pronounced as /d/ eg in this or that varies by class; cf [18][19][15][20]
h-dropping initial /h/ not pronouned eg in happy or house varies by class; may vary within CarE; cf [18][12][21]
consonant cluster reduction final sound in compound strings of consonants not pronounced eg /t/ in best or respect, or eg /d/ in land varies by class; cf [18][22][23]
rhoticity vowel + /r/ pronounced eg in hard or corn varies within CarE; cf [18][24][25][6]
unreduced vowel in weak syllables vowels in unstressed syllables not reduced eg /a/ in about or bacon, or eg /of/ in lot of work or /a/ in in a few days may vary by class; cf [18][26][27]
FACE vowel idiosyncratic phoneme eg in game, tray, plain, great varies by class; cf [18][28]
GOAT vowel idiosyncratic phoneme eg in home, show, boat, toe varies by class; cf [18][28]
L consonant idiosyncratic /l/ phoneme eg in milk cf [29]
W consonant idiosyncratic /w/ phoneme eg in week or wet cf [29]
glide cluster reduction /h/ in /wh/ not pronounced eg in whine may vary by class; cf [11][25]
stress shift idiosyncratic prosody of words eg in rea-LISE, ce-le-BRATE, a-gri-CUL-ture cf [30][31]
fronting idiosyncratic prosody of phrases eg in is BORROW she borrow it cf [32]
Sample of grammatical features distinctive of lower-to-upper-register Caribbean English as used in at least some territories.
Feature Gloss Notes
zero indefinite article indefinite articles [occasionally] omitted eg in in _ couple of days cf [33]
zero past tense marker verbs left unmarked for tense eg in I work_ a few months cf [33][34]
zero plural marker nouns left unmarked for plurality eg in my relative_ were cf [33]
functional shift part-of-speech and sense of words shifted eg noun to verb shift of rice in to rice somebody cf [35]
zero subject–verb inversion subject-verb order not inverted in questions eg in You going back? cf [32]
reduplication emphatic repetition of words or phrases eg in fool-fool, big big big cf [32]
Lexical sets of upper-register Caribbean English as used in select territories.[36][note 7]
Set CarE BrE AmE Notes
kit ɪ
dress ɛ
trap a
bath ɑː⟩ + ⟨a æ
lot ɑ ɒ
cloth ɔː ɒ ɔ⟩ + ⟨ɑ
strut ʌ ə
foot ʊ
fleece i
goose u
palm ɑː ɑ
start ⟩ / ⟨aːr ɑː ɑr
nurse ɜː⟩ / ⟨ɜːr əː ər
north ⟩ / ⟨oːr ɔː ɔr
force ⟩ / ⟨oːr ɔː ɔr
thought ɔː⟩ + ⟨ ɔː ɔ⟩ + ⟨ɑ
near ⟩ / ⟨eː r ɪə ɪr⟩ / ⟨ɪər
square ⟩ / ⟨eː r ɛː ɛr⟩ / ⟨ɛər
cure ⟩ / ⟨oːr ʊə⟩ + ⟨ɔː ʊr⟩ / ⟨ʊər
face
pride ai ʌɪ
voice ɔi⟩ + ⟨ai ɔɪ ɔɪ
mouth ⟩ + ⟨ɔʊ
goat əʊ
happy i
letter a ə ər
rabbit ɪ
added ɪ ə
beautiful ʊ ə
piano i ɪ
ago a ə ə
because i ə⟩ + ⟨i
Consonant phonemes of upper-register Caribbean English as used in select territories.[37][note 8]
Unit CarE BrE AmE Notes
b × × ×
d × × ×
× × ×
ð × ×
f × × ×
g × × ×
h × × ×
j × × ×
k × × ×
l × × ×
m × × ×
n × × ×
ŋ × × ×
p × × ×
r × × ×
s × × ×
ʃ × × ×
t × × ×
× × ×
θ × ×
v × × ×
w × × ×
z × × ×
ʒ × × ×
x × ×
ɬ ×

StandardisationEdit

The standardisation of Caribbean English is thought to have begun upon the advent of government-funded public education in the West Indies in 1833.[38] Notably, the earliest public teachers, credited with first developing Standard Caribbean English, had been 'imported direct from Britain, or recruited from among the "coloured" class on the islands who had benefited from their mixed parentage by receiving the rudiments of education.'[38] Linguistically, however, the growth of public education in said standard register resulted in 'a practical bilingualism' that has been described as a typical example of diglossia.[39] By the late twentieth century, as most territories transitioned to sovereignty and adopted English as their official language, 'efforts were made to define norms for Caribbean English usage in public, formal domains, and more specifically examination settings.'[40] These are thought to have culminated in the 1996 publication of the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage, commonly deemed the authority on Standard Caribbean English, with the former defining the latter as 'the total body of regional lexicon and usage bound to a common core of syntax and morphology shared with [non-Caribbean forms of standardised English], but aurally distinguished as a discrete type by certain phonological features.'[41][42][note 9]

StudyEdit

The earliest scholarly dictionary of Caribbean English is thought to have been the 1967 Dictionary of Jamaican English.[43] During Easter of that same year, the Caribbean Association of Headmasters and Headmistresses resolved –

Be it resolved that this Association request the appropriate department of the University of the West Indies to compile a list of lexical items in each territory and to circulate these to schools for the guidance of teachers.

— Resolution 6 of the CAHH Conference of Easter 1967.[44]

Said resolution was promptly forwarded to Richard Allsopp, who by mid-1967 'already had some ten shoe-boxes each of about 1,000 6 × 4 cards and many loose unfiled cuttings, notes and other material [from Guyana, the Lesser Antilles, Belize, Jamaica, and Trinidad].'[45] In 1971, Allsopp introduced the Caribbean Lexicography Project as 'a survey of [English] usage in the intermediate and upper ranges of the West Indian speech continuum.'[45][46] This set the stage for the seminal Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage, first published 1996.[47][note 10]

SamplesEdit

Standard English: Where is that boy? /hwɛər ɪz ðæt bɔɪ/

  • Barbados: 'Wherr dah boi?' ([hwer ɪz dæt bɔɪ]) (spoken very quickly, rhotic with glottal stops)
  • San Andrés and Providencia: 'Weh dah boi deh?' ([hwe dæt bɔɪ deh])
  • Jamaica: 'Weh dah bwoy deh?' ([weh da bwoj de]) (sporadic rhoticity from Irish and Scottish influence); or 'Wey iz dat boi?' [weɪ ɪz dæt bɔɪ] (non-rhotic and similar to the accents of southwestern England and Wales)
  • Belize: 'Weh iz dat bwoy deh?' ( [weh ɪz dɑt bɔɪ deɪ]) (British and North American influence but deeper in tone)
  • Trinidad: 'Wey dat boy deh?'
  • Bahamas: 'Wey dat boy iz?' [Some would more likely say bey, instead of boy]
  • Guyana and Tobago: 'Weyr iz daht boy/bai?' (urban) or 'Wey dat boy dey?' (rural) ([weɪɹ ɪz dɑt baɪ]) (many variations depending on urban/rural location, Afro or Indo descent or area, and competency in standard English; sporadic rhoticity)
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: 'Wey dah boy deh deh?' ([weɪ dɑ bɔɪ deɪ deɪ]) (non-rhotic)
  • Belize, Bluefields, Pearl Lagoon, Corn Islands, Bay Islands Department, Limón, Bocas del Toro Province, Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands and the Virgin Islands: 'Wehr iz daht booy?' ([weɹ ɪz dɑt buɪ]) (distinct, sporadic rhoticity, pronunciation becomes quite different from Creole pronunciation)
  • Dominica: 'Weh dat boy nuh?'/'Weh dat boy be nuh?' (spoken harshly and with a deep tone)

The written form of the English language in the former and current British-controlled Caribbean countries conforms to the spelling and the grammar styles of Britain and in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands conforms to the spelling and the grammar styles of United States.

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

Explanatory footnotesEdit

  1. ^ Including only seventeen countries and territories listed in Allsopp 2003, pp. xii–xvi, ie Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Netherland Antilles, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, British and US Virgin Islands.
  2. ^ Including only seventeen countries and territories listed in Allsopp 2003, pp. xii–xvi, ie Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Netherland Antilles, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, British and US Virgin Islands. L2 data missing for some countries or territories in Eberhard, Simons & Fennig 2022, digest on English.
  3. ^ The CE abbreviation is used in Allsopp 2003, p. lxx.
  4. ^ For instance, the first sentence in Robinson 2007 describes the ensuing content as including information 'about the history of English in the Caribbean,' but then goes on to only cover the history of English-based creole languages. Further, Allsopp 2003, pp. xxvi–xxvii include creole entries in their dictionary, noting the frequent inclusion of creole words, phrases, and dialogue in English literature of the region, and further stating that 'creole dialects are a pan-Caribbean reality which no professional lexicography, whatever be its mandate, can simply ignore.' Additionally, OED 2022, model for CarE included aspects of various creoles in its production of a pronunciation key and model for Caribbean English.
  5. ^ The OED 2022, model for CarE recently noted –

    Of all [sixteen] World English varieties currently addressed by the OED, delineating a ‘Caribbean English’ provides the greatest challenge [as t]here is vast phonetic and phonological diversity across this region[.]

  6. ^ That is, ten, four, and twenty-one vowels, glides, and consonants, respectively, compared to eleven, eight, and twenty-four in Received Pronunciation as represented in Gimson 1980 (Allsopp 2003, p. xlvi).
  7. ^ Note BrE, AmE stand for British English, American English. Phonemes with CarE–BrE or CarE–AmE differences are recorded in red. In columns BrE, AmE, en dashes (–) stand for phoneme is the same as that in CarE. In the Notes column, en dashes represent missing or null values. CarE dialects sampled for these data were those of the Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica (OED 2022, model for CarE). Additionally, English creoles of Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago were sampled (OED 2022, model for CarE). CarE dialects or English creoles of Barbados, Belize, and the Lesser Antilles may have been, to a lesser extent, sampled (OED 2022, model for CarE).
  8. ^ Note BrE, AmE stand for British English, American English. Phonemes with CarE–BrE or CarE–AmE differences are recorded in red. In columns CarE, BrE, AmE, multiplicaiton signs (×) stand for phoneme is present while en dashes (–) stand for phoneme is absent. In the Notes column, en dashes represent missing or null values. CarE dialects sampled for these data were those of the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and some of the Lesser Antilles (OED 2022, key for CarE).
  9. ^ Though Allsopp 2003, p. lv first glosses Caribbean Standard English as the 'conglomerate of [the] several Standard Englishes [of] the nations and states of the former British West Indian colonies.'
  10. ^ Allsopp 2003, p. xxxi likens the publication to that of Webster's in 1828, the Dictionary of Canadian English in 1967, and the Australian National Dictionary in 1988.

Short citationsEdit

  1. ^ a b c Eberhard, Simons & Fennig 2022, digest on English.
  2. ^ Allsopp 2003, pp. liv–lvi.
  3. ^ Mahabir 1999, p. ???.
  4. ^ Holbrook & Holbrook 2001, p. ???.
  5. ^ SC nd, ???.
  6. ^ a b OED 2022, key for CarE.
  7. ^ Allsopp 2003, pp. xii–xvi.
  8. ^ Allsopp 2003, p. xl.
  9. ^ Allsopp 2003, pp. xl–xli.
  10. ^ a b Seoane & Suárez-Gómez 2016, pp. 86–88.
  11. ^ a b Wells 1982, p. 570.
  12. ^ a b Wells 1982, pp. 568–569.
  13. ^ Wells 1982, p. 564.
  14. ^ a b Allsopp 2003, p. xliv.
  15. ^ a b Allsopp 2003, pp. xlv–xlvi.
  16. ^ Allsopp 2003, pp. li–lii.
  17. ^ a b Seoane & Suárez-Gómez 2016, p. 92.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g Robinson 2007, sec. 'Caribbean English phonology'.
  19. ^ Wells 1982, pp. 565–566.
  20. ^ OED 2022, key to CarE.
  21. ^ Allsopp 2003, p. xlvii.
  22. ^ Wells 1982, pp. 566–567.
  23. ^ Allsopp 2003, pp. xlvi–xlvii.
  24. ^ Wells 1982, pp. 570–572.
  25. ^ a b Allsopp 2003, p. xlvi.
  26. ^ Wells 1982, pp. 570–571.
  27. ^ Allsopp 2003, p. xlv.
  28. ^ a b Wells 1982, p. 571.
  29. ^ a b Wells 1982, pp. 569–570.
  30. ^ Wells 1982, pp. 572–573.
  31. ^ Allsopp 2003, pp. xliv–xlv.
  32. ^ a b c Allsopp 2003, p. xlix.
  33. ^ a b c Robinson 2007, sec. 'Caribbean English grammar'.
  34. ^ Allsopp 2003, pp. xlvii–xlix.
  35. ^ Allsopp 2003, pp. xlvii–xlviii.
  36. ^ OED 2022, models for CarE, BrE, AmE.
  37. ^ OED 2022, keys for CarE, BrE, AmE.
  38. ^ a b Seoane & Suárez-Gómez 2016, p. 88.
  39. ^ Seoane & Suárez-Gómez 2016, p. 89.
  40. ^ Seoane & Suárez-Gómez 2016, p. 90.
  41. ^ Seoane & Suárez-Gómez 2016, pp. 90–91.
  42. ^ Allsopp 2003, p. lvi.
  43. ^ Allsopp 2003, p. xx.
  44. ^ Allsopp 2003, pp. xx–xxi.
  45. ^ a b Allsopp 2003, p. xxi.
  46. ^ Ammon et al. 2006, p. 2088.
  47. ^ Allsopp 2003, pp. catalogue page, xxii.

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External linksEdit

Coordinates: 15°11′14″N 75°10′31″W / 15.187142636713544°N 75.17538720089601°W / 15.187142636713544; -75.17538720089601