English in Barbados

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Barbadian English
Bajan English
RegionCommonwealth Caribbean
Early forms
English alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Barbadian English or Bajan (/ˈbən/) English is a dialect of the English language as used by Barbadians (Bajans) and by Barbadian diasporas. It should not be confused with Bajan Creole, which is an English-based creole language.[1]


Barbadian English is fully rhotic and full of glottal stops. One example of Barbadian English would be the pronunciation of departments, which is IPA: [dɪˈpaːɹʔmənʔs]. It is also notable, in comparison with standard American or British English, for the first vowel in price or prize. [1] [2]

  • The realization of the KIT vowel /ɪ/ in Barbadian English is pretty much the same as in American English, the default [ɪ].
  • The DRESS vowel /ɛ/ is [ɛ].
  • The TRAP vowel /æ/ is usually [a].
  • The LOT vowel /ɒ/ is usually [ɑ] or [ɒ].
  • The STRUT vowel /ʌ/ is the same as in the US English, [ʌ].
  • The FOOT vowel /ʊ/ is [ʊ].
  • The FLEECE vowel // is []. HAPPY is best identified as an allophone of this phoneme, thus /ˈhapiː/.
  • The FACE diphthong // varies by region and education/class: it manifests in educated speech generally as [] or sometimes [eɪ], and in rural and uneducated speech as the vowel [ɛ].
  • The PALM vowel /ɑː/ is mostly []. The BATH diaphoneme is mostly to be identified with this vowel (see trap-bath split)
  • The THOUGHT vowel /ɔː/ is [ɑː] or [ɒː].
  • The GOAT diphthong // is generally [] or [oə].
  • The NEAR /ɪər/ and SQUARE /ɛər/ sequences are both [eːɹ], resulting in the near-square merger.
  • The START sequence /ɑːr/ is [aːɹ].
  • The NORTH sequence /ɔːr/ is usually [ɑːɹ] or [ɒːɹ].
  • The FORCE sequence /ɔːr/ and the CURE sequence /ʊər/ are both usually [oːɹ].
  • The NURSE vowel /ɜːr/ is [ɤ].
  • The GOOSE vowel // is mostly [].
  • The PRICE diphthong // is generally [ʌɪ].
  • The CHOICE diphthong /ɔɪ/ is either [ʌɪ] or [oɪ].
  • The MOUTH diphthong // is [ʌʊ].
  • The final LETTER vowel /ər/ is [ɤ].
  • The final HORSES vowel /ɪ/ is [ɪ].
  • The final COMMA vowel /ə/ is [ə].
  • The TRAP and LOT vowels are not merged in Barbadian English. However the vowels of LOT, CLOTH, and THOUGHT are generally merged.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Schneider, E.W., and Kortmann, B. " A Handbook of Varieties of English: Morphology and syntax ". Mouton de Gruyter, 2004. In [1],
  2. ^ Michelle Straw, Peter L. Patrick. " Dialect acquisition of glottal variation in /t/: Barbadians in Ipswich ". Language Sciences 29 (2007) 385–407. In [2],