Saint Kitts Creole
|Saint Kitts Creole|
|Native to||Saint Kitts and Nevis|
|unknown (undated figure of 39,000)|
Saint Kitts Creole has much the same history as other English Caribbean creoles. Its origin lies in 17th-century enslaved West Africans, who, when brought to the islands to work on sugar plantations, were forced to learn British English quickly because their labour required it. Their English was mixed with West African words and, in some cases, West African language structure. The French, who occupied the island from 1625 to 1713, had only a small impact on the creole spoken today, unlike in the formerly French islands of Dominica and Saint Lucia, which speak a French-based rather than English-based creole.
Saint Kitts Creole today is spoken on the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis (although Nevisians refer to the language as "Nevisian" or "Nevis creole"), mainly in rural areas, and is spoken especially heavily in Capesterre, Christ Church Nichola Town, Cayon, and Nevis. Today's use of the creole involves a higher proportion of Standard English, possibly due to access to foreign media. Usually, only residents in rural areas and Nevis are strong creole users, although mesolectal forms of the language are employed by the majority of the population. Popular Jamaican culture and music have also played a role, as Jamaican idioms are being used more and more in the Saint Kitts creole, as well as throughout the region.
Saint Kitts pronunciation is similar to the pronunciation on the neighbouring islands of Antigua and Montserrat, but with slight differences that are mostly noticeable only to residents of the Leeward Islands.
Saint Kitts Creole is pronounced similarly to the creoles of neighbouring islands, namely Antigua and Montserrat. Usually only longtime residents in the islands can mark the slight differences. In rural areas and in Nevis, // (as in "house") is usually pronounced [oʊ] (as in "hose").
In Saint Kitts Creole, words are rarely pluralized by adding an ending to the word. The word is usually followed by the word dem to indicate the pluralization. e.g. de gyul dem - "the girls". Note that if the Standard English form of the word is not pluralized with an "s", e.g. "children", the plural form of the word in Saint Kitts creole will be the Standard English plural form followed by dem, e.g. children dem.
Questions ending in "is it?" have the "is it" replaced with y be (i bee); e.g. Who is it? - Who y be? What is it? - Wha y be?
Words used to intensify adjectives, such as "very" and "extremely", are rarely used. Instead, the adjective in question is repeated; for example: De gyul look bad bad - "The girl looks very ugly." Alternatively, the phrase "so tail" is placed after the adjective to indicate a strong emphasis or intensification; for example: De gyul look bad so tail - "The girl looks extremely ugly."
A unique aspect of Saint Kitts Creole is to end certain sentences in the speech with the words burdee, poopa or daady buh, the meaning of which vary with context but tend to be used to emphasise the sentence they attach to; for example: Tall poopa - "not at all" (extreme). Hush buhdee - "hush buddy" (used when extremely annoyed).
Ahwee a go dung by e fiel by d house go pik nuts. - We are going down to the field by the house to pick peanuts.
Is dey dem pikni does wash dem skin. - There is where the children bathe (their skin).
Unno kno who e tis u a play wit u kno. - You do not know with whom you are messing.
Some of the Saint Kitts Creole words listed below are unique, but others are commonly used in or originated from neighbouring islands.
- Jumbie - an undead spirit/ghost.
- Jumbie fyah - a fire that goes down and rises up again due to "jumbie" spirits.
- Jumbie press - the instance in which someone feels that they cannot move while in bed.
- Yampi - mucus in the eye.