Guyanese Creole

Guyanese Creole (Creolese by its speakers or simply Guyanese) is an English-based creole language spoken by people in Guyana. Linguistically, it is similar to other English dialects of the Caribbean region, based on 19th-century English and has loan words from African, Indian, Arawakan, and older Dutch languages.[3]

Guyanese Creole
Native toGuyana
Native speakers
(undated figure of 650,000 in Guyana)[1]
50,000 in Suriname (1986)[2]
English Creole
  • Atlantic
    • Eastern
      • Southern
        • Guyanese Creole
Language codes
ISO 639-3gyn
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Varieties and influencesEdit

There are many sub-dialects of Guyanese Creole based on geographical location, urban - rural location, and race of the speakers. For example, along the Rupununi River, where the population is largely Amerindian, a distinct form of Guyanese Creole exists. The Georgetown (capital city) urban area has a distinct accent, while within a forty-five-minute drive away from this area the dialect/accent changes again, especially if following the coast where rural villages are located.

As with other Caribbean languages, words and phrases are very elastic, and new ones can be made up, changed or evolve within a short period. They can also be used within a very small group, until picked up by a larger community. Ethnic groups are also known to alter or include words from their own backgrounds.

A socially stratified creole speech continuum also exists between Guyanese English and Standard / British English. Speech by members of the upper classes is phonetically closest to British and American English, whereas speech by members of the lower classes most closely resembles other Caribbean English dialects. A phrase such as "I told him" may be pronounced in various parts of the continuum:

Utterance Represents the speech of
[ai tɔuld hɪm] acrolect speech of upper-class speakers
[ai toːld hɪm] mesolect varieties of speech of middle-class speakers
[ai toːl ɪm] mesolect varieties of lower-middle and urban class speakers
[ai tɛl ɪm]
[a tɛl ɪm]
[ai tɛl ɪ]
[a tɛl i]
[mi tɛl i] rural working class
[mi tɛl am] basilect speech of illiterate rural laborers


It is common in Guyanese Creole to repeat adjectives and adverbs for emphasis (the equivalent of adding "very" or "extremely" in standard British and American English). For example, "Dis wata de col col" translates into "This water is very cold". "Come now now" translates into "Come right now." Various items and actions have also been given their own names that either vaguely resemble or reflect corruptions of their names in standard English.


There are several phonological markers that are present in Guyanese Creole:[3]

Sample words and phrasesEdit

The following phrases are written as they are pronounced:

  • ah go do it - Meaning: "I will do it"[4]
  • dem ah waan sting yuh waan bil - Literally: "they want to sting your one bill" - Meaning: "they usually want to take money from you"[5]
  • evri day me a run a raisfil - Literally: "Every day I run the ricefield" - Meaning: "Every day I take care of the ricefield"[5]
  • ee bin get gun - Literally: "He been get gun" - "he had the gun"[6]
  • ee wuda tek awi lil time but awi bin go come out safe - Literally: "it would have taken us a little time but we would have come out safely"[7]
  • me a wuk abak - Meaning: "I'm working further inland"[6]
  • suurin - a form of courtship (from "suitoring," itself the result of adapting the noun "suitor" for use as a verb and then applying standard patterns to generate a gerund form)[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Guyanese Creole at Ethnologue (10th ed., 1984). Note: Data may come from the 9th edition (1978).
  2. ^ Guyanese Creole English at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ a b "Guyanese Creole Survey Report David J. Holbrook and Holly A. Holbrook SIL International 2001". Retrieved 2020-04-03.
  4. ^ Escure, Geneviève (1999). "The Pragmaticization of Past in Creoles". American Speech. 74 (2): 165–202. ISSN 0003-1283.
  5. ^ a b Gibson, Kean (1988). "The Habitual Category in Guyanese and Jamaican Creoles". American Speech. 63 (3): 195–202. doi:10.2307/454817. ISSN 0003-1283.
  6. ^ a b Bickerton, Derek (1973). "The Nature of a Creole Continuum". Language. 49 (3): 649, 666. doi:10.2307/412355. ISSN 0097-8507.
  7. ^ Gibson, Kean (1986). "The Ordering of Auxiliary Notions in Guyanese Creole". Language. 62 (3): 571–586. doi:10.2307/415478. ISSN 0097-8507.
  8. ^ Edwards, Walter (1989). "Suurin, Koocharin, and Grannin in Guyana: Masked Intentions and Communication Theory". American Speech. 64 (3): 225–232. doi:10.2307/455590. ISSN 0003-1283.

External linksEdit

Guyana based detective stories written in East Bank Demerara Creole. Includes glossary of Creole Words and Guyanese Proverbs.