Leeward Caribbean Creole English

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Leeward Caribbean Creole English
Antiguan Creole
Saint Kitts Creole
Native to Antigua and Barbuda
Native speakers
150,000  (2001–2011)[1]
English Creole
  • Atlantic
    • Eastern
      • Southern
        • Northern Antilles
          • Leeward Caribbean Creole English
Language codes
ISO 639-3 aig
Glottolog anti1245[2]
Linguasphere 52-ABB-apf to -apm

Leeward Caribbean Creole English, also known by the names of the various islands on which it is spoken (Antiguan Creole, Saint Kitts Creole, etc.), is an English-based creole language spoken in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, namely the countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

There are subtle differences in the language's usage by different speakers, and islanders often use it in combination with Standard English. The tendency to switch back and forth from Creole to Standard English often seems to correlate with the class status of the speaker. Persons of higher social status tend to switch between Standard English and Creole more readily, due to their more extensive formal education in the English-language school system. Creole usage is more common, and is less similar to Standard English, as speakers descend the socioeconomic ladder.

In the years before Antigua and Barbuda's independence (in 1981), Standard English was widely spoken. However, after independence, Antiguans began to take a certain measure of pride in their language[citation needed].

Many Creole words are derived from English or African origins. The creole was formed when slaves owned by English planters imitated the English of their enslavers but pronounced it with their own inflections. This can be easily seen in phrases such as "Me nah go," meaning "I am not going," or in "Ent it?," presumably a cognate of "Ain't it?"


Vocabulary is widely influenced by British vocabulary, due to centuries of association with Great Britain. Examples:

  • Bonnet refers to the hood of a car.
  • Chips refers to French Fries. However, fries is commonly used as well.
  • Form is used instead of the American high school grade. (7th Grade-1st Form; 11th Grade-5th Form)
  • Car park instead of parking lot.
  • Patty for flaky folded pastry, unlike the American patty, meaning hamburger patty.
  • Mongrel is used instead of the US mutt.
  • Biscuit is used instead of the US cookie.

However, in other cases the American form prevails over the British one, due to the islands' close proximity to the United States:

  • Apartment is used instead of the British flat.
  • Elevator' instead of the British lift.

Because of the influx of other Caribbean nationals to Antigua, due to natural migration and to the CSME, Antigua's everyday vocabulary is being influenced by Jamaican Creole, bajan Creole, Guyanese Creole and Trinidadian Creole. This is even more common among the youth. Examples:

  • Yute and star meaning young man.
  • Breda (derived from Brethren and Partner) meaning close friend.
  • Sell off meaning excellent or very good.

Examples of un-derivated words and phrases[edit]

  1. pickney: child
  2. pickanyegah: children
  3. ahyue: collective address in the manner of "you all" or "y'all"
  4. ah wah mek: why
  5. chupit: stupid
  6. smaddy: somebody
  7. likkle: little
  8. 'ooman: woman
  9. nyam: eat
  10. sudden/ leave dee 'ooman sudden : can refer to an object or thing/ leave her things alone
  11. cassy/cassie: a thorn, such as from a rosebush
  12. t'all: no, not me, not at all
  13. ah wah dee/da joke yah tarl: what in the world is going on?
  14. leh me lone: leave me alone
  15. ah good/tek dat: that's good for you/take that
  16. tap lie: stop lying
  17. ah true/choo: it's the truth
  18. look yah: look here
  19. kum ya: come here
  20. a fu you: Is it yours?
  21. move from dey: get away from there
  22. ah wat a gwaan/ wa gwaan: what's going on?
  23. luk day: look there!
  24. ah huffa daag dat?: whose dog is that?
  25. a fu you ee fah?: is it yours?


Antiguan is pronounced very similarly to Jamaican. This has led some to surmise that the slaves of these countries came from the same place in Africa. Below are a few ways in which some language blends are fused or changed completely.

  • "TR" as in 'Truck' is pronounced "CH", thus: 'Chruck.'
  • "DR" as in 'Dress' is pronounced" J", thus: 'Jess'
  • "TH" as in 'Them' is pronounced "D", thus: 'Dem'
  • "TH" as in 'Think' is pronounced "T", thus: 'Tink'
  • "WN" as in 'Down' is pronounced "NG", thus: 'Dung'
  • "V" as in 'Vex' is pronounced "B", thus: 'Bex'
  • Sometimes an ending "T" is left off and words such as 'Best' sound like 'Bess'. Expect sounds like 'Expeck'; and 'Left' sounds like 'Leff'.

Language use[edit]

Antiguan Creole is used in almost every aspect of life in Antigua. In all schools, during class hours, it is required of students to speak Standard English. This policy is especially exercised in private owned schools. Most media and mainstream communication is written and spoken in Standard English, although Antiguan Creole is sometimes used humorously or as a way of identifying with the local public.

Use of Antiguan Creole varies depending on socio-economic class. In general, the higher and middle classes use it amongst friends and family but switch to Standard English in the public sphere. The lower class tend to use Antiguan Creole in almost every sector of life.

The Pronominal System[edit]

The pronominal system of Standard English has a four-way distinction of person, singular/plural, gender and nominative/objective. Some varieties of Antiguan Creole do not have the gender or nominative/objective distinction, though most do; but usefully, it does distinguish between the second person singular and plural (you).

I, me = me; you, you (thou, thee) = yu; he, him = he; she, her = she; we, us = ah-we; they, them = dem;

To form the possessive form of the pronoun add "fu-" to the above. However, the pronoun "our" is an exception where we add "ar-".

my, mine = fu-mi; your, yours (thy, thine) = fu-yu; his, his = fu-he; her, hers = fu-she; our, ours = ah-we; you all = ah-yu; their, theirs = fu-dem

e.g. a fu-yu daag dat, that is your dog.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Leeward Caribbean Creole English at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Antigua and Barbuda Creole English". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.