||This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2008)|
|Native to||Barbados, (South Carolina Lowcountry as Gullah)|
|Native speakers||259,000 (date missing)|
Bajan (pronounced /ˈbeɪdʒən/) is an English-based creole language1 spoken on the Caribbean island of Barbados and parts of South Carolina's Lowcountry, where it is known as Gullah. Bajan, like many other English-based Caribbean creole languages, consists of a West African substrate and an English superstrate. Bajan is similar but distinguishable from the creoles of neighbouring Caribbean islands, as many of the other Caribbean creoles are theorized to have Hiberno-English or Scottish English as their superstrate variety, for example Jamaican Patoiscitation needed.
Bajan is the Caribbean creole with the closest grammar to Standard English.2 There is academic debate on whether its creole features are due to an earlier pidgin state or to some other reason, such as contact with neighboring English-based creole languages.3 In one historical model, Bajan arose when captive West Africans were forcibly transported to the island, enslaved and forced to speak English, though learned imperfectly. Bajan later became a means of communicating without always being understood by the slave holders.
Due to emigration to the Province of Carolina, Bajan has influenced American English45 and the Gullah language spoken in the Carolinas.67 Regionally, Bajan has ties to Belizean and Guyanese Creoles.citation needed
Unlike Jamaica, Guyana or Trinidad, Barbados was the destination of few African-born slaves after 1800.8 Thus, African blacks became "Bajanized" relatively early on in the island's history. This tended to make them less resistant to local culture, with its Anglicised language, religion and customs.89
Today, Bajan is a more popular regional term for nationals of Barbados, in addition to the official name, Barbadian. In general, the people of Barbados speak standard British English on TV and radio, in courthouses, in government, and in day to day business, while Bajan is reserved for less formal situations, in music, or in social commentary. Standard English is a secondary native tongue of most Barbadians, and is usually used when talking formallycitation needed. Barbadians may opt to speak Bajan amongst themselves or when in a very relaxed settingcitation needed. Bajan is a primarily spoken language with no standardised written form. Due to the lack of standardisation, spelling may vary widely from person to person. There is much dialectal variation throughout the island. Barbadians practicing Rastafari on the island also tend to speak more with a Jamaican accent than full Bajan. Bajan words and sentences presented below are largely spelled as they are pronounced. New terminology, expressions, jargon, and idioms are regularly added to the dialect by social commentary sung during the annual Crop Over festival.10
As in most English-based Caribbean creoles, the interdentals /θ/ and /ð/ have merged with other consonants (in this case, /t/ and /d/, respectively).11 Unlike most other Caribbean creolescitation needed, Bajan is rhoticcitation needed. Bajan has a strong tendency to realize word-final /t/ as a glottal stop [ʔ]. Thus the Bajan pronunciation of start, [stɑːɹʔ], contrasts sharply with the pronunciation of other Caribbean speakerscitation needed, [staːt] or [stɑːt] or [staːɹt]citation needed.
The word for you (plural) is wuna, similar to Jamaican unnu / unna or Bahamian yinna. Unlike Standard English, Bajan tends towards using a zero copula.
Questions are usually pronounced as a statement with a raised intonation; usually on the last word; to indicate that it is a question e.g. Wunna win de cricket? means "Did you (pl.) win the cricket match?"; dah you own? means "Is that yours?"
Habitual actions are usually indicated by the word does and done, for example I does guh church punna Sunduh means "I go to church on Sundays", or I done guh church pon Sunduh "I went to church on Sunday". It is quite common for this to be shortened to I's guh church pun Sunduh.citation needed
Verbs in Bajan are not conjugated for tense, which is inferred from time words e.g. I eat all de food yestuhday = "I ate all of the food yesterday", where the word yesterday indicates that the action happened in the past.citation needed
The word gine is usually used to mark the future tense e.g. I gine eat = "I am going to eat".citation needed
Ain't (frequently shortened to ain') is used as a negative marker e.g. "I didn't do that" becomes I ain' do dat/dah. It is not uncommon for the I and the ain' to be pronounced in Bajan as "Ah'n" i.e. "Ah'n do dah" or "Ah'n able".
Bajan is peppered with a number of colourful proverbs and sayings that have been passed down through the generations. These are just a few examples below:
|De higha de monkey climb, de more he show he tail||The more you show off the more you show your faults.|
|Gol' (gold) teet (teeth) doan suit hog mout (mouth)||Fancy things don't suit those that aren't accustomed to them.|
|Cat luck ain' dog luck||What one person may get away with may cause problems for another.|
|Wuh ain' see you, ain' pass you||Just because you got away with something so far does not mean that it won't catch up with you later.|
|Ef greedy wait hot wud (would) cool||Patience will be rewarded.|
|This section requires expansion. (December 2008)|
- You all from the Igbo word unu, which means You (plural)
- From Igbo Obia, 'doctoring, mysticism, or oracle'
- From Twi Adope
- Part of the local national dish, but comes from "Fou Fou" in Africa.
- (Pronounced "ng-yam") or "Yamm--") which means to eat ravenously or greedily, as in, "Don't yamm- the food like that boy!" – In Manjaku (language spoken in Guinea-Bissau)and in Pulaarit means to chew,(pronounced "nyam") it means chew in Luo (language spoken in East Africa)citation needed
- Blake, Renee A. 1997. "All o’ we is one? Race, class and language in a Barbados community". Ph.D., Stanford University.
- Burrowes, Audrey (in collaboration with Richard Allsopp), 1983. "Barbadian Creole: A note on its social history and structure". In Lawrence Carrington, Dennis Craig, & Ramon Todd Dandaré, eds, Studies in Caribbean Language. St. Augustine, Trinidad: Society for Caribbean Linguistics, 38-45.
- Cassidy, Frederic (1986), "Barbadian Creole–possibility and probability", American Speech 61 (3): 195–205
- Fields, Linda. 1995. "Early Bajan: Creole or non-Creole?" In Jacques Arends, ed., The Early Stages of Creolization. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: Benjamins, 89-112.
- Hancock, Ian (1980), "Gullah and Barbadian–origins and relationships", American Speech 55 (1): 17–35
- Holm, John A. 1988. Pidgins and Creoles, vol. II: Reference Survey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Le Page, Robert (1957), "General outlines of Creole English dialects in the British Caribbean", Orbis 7: 54–64
- Rickford, John R. 1992. "The Creole residue in Barbados". In Nick Doane, Joan Hall, & Dick Ringler, eds. Old English and New: Essays in language and linguistics in honor of Frederic G. Cassidy. NY: Garland, 183-201.
- Rickford, John R. & Renee Blake. 1990. "Copula contraction and absence in Barbadian Creole English, Samaná English and Vernacular Black English". In Kira Hall et al., eds. Proceedings of the 16th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. Berkeley CA: Berkeley Linguistics Society, 257-68.
- Rickford, John R and Jerome S. Handler. 1994. "Textual evidence on the nature of early Barbadian speech, 1676–1835". Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 9: 221-55.
- Roberts, Peter A. 1988. West Indians and their language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (written by a Bajan)
- Winford, Donald. 2000. "‘Intermediate’ Creoles and degrees of change in Creole formation: The case of Bajan". In I. Neumann-Holzschuh and E. W. Schneider, eds, Degrees of Restructuring in Creole Languages. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: Benjamins, 215-245.
- A~Z of Barbados Heritage, by Sean Carrington, Macmillan Caribbean – Macmillan Publishers Limited Press, 2007, paperback. ISBN 0-333-92068-6
- Notes for: A Glossary of Words and Phrases of Barbadian Dialect, by Frank A. Collymore, Second Edition – Advocate Co. Limited Press, 1957, paperback
- "From Bajan To Standard English", by Jerome Davis 13
- "Barbadian Dialect Poetry", by Kathleen Catford14
- Queen's English
- British English
- English in Barbados
- Gullah language
- English-based creole languages
- Barbadian culture
- Music of Barbados
- Burrowes, Audrey. (1983). "Barbadian Creole: A note on its social history and structure". Studies in Caribbean Language. St. Augustine, Trinidad: Society for Caribbean Linguistics, pp. 38-45.
- Hancock (1980:22), citing Le Page (1957:58–59)
- Hancock (1986:195)
- Barbados Tourism Encyclopaedia
- New York Times – "The Buried History of America's Largest Slave Rebellion and the Man Who Led It"
- Carrington, Sean (2007). A~Z of Barbados Heritage. Macmillan Caribbean Publishers Limited. pp. 113, 114. ISBN 0-333-92068-6.
- "Historical Facts on George Washingtons visit to Barbados in 1751". Retrieved 6 April 2010.
- Radula-Scott, Caroline, ed. (2000). "Features: All o' We Is Bajan". Barbados. Insight Guide (3rd ed.). Singapore: APA Publications. p. 58. ISBN 981-234-067-X.
- Carrington, Sean; Fraser, Henry (2003). "African Heritage". A~Z of Barbados Heritage. Macmillan Caribbean,. pp. 2–3. ISBN 0-333-92068-6. "Direct African influence declined in Barbados earlier than in other major Caribbean societies. In 1817 only 7 percent of Barbadian slaves had been born in Africa, whereas in Jamaica the proportion was 36 percent and 44 percent in Trinidad. An important result was that the precess of acculturation, whereby Afro-Barbadians were persuaded or coerced into accepting European cultural norms was more intensive in Barbados. To give two examples, the proportion of words of African origin in the Barbadian vocabulary is much lower than it is in Jamaica, and there are in Barbados none of the religions of African or partly African origin found elsewhere in the Caribbean, such as Voodoo in Haiti, Shango in Trinidad, or Kélé in St. Lucia. (It may be claimed that the Spiritual Baptists are an exception, but this church came to Barbados from Trinidad in comparatively recent times.)"
- Musings: In this jurisdiction, solely
- Cassidy (1986:202)
- ethnologue.com – "Barbadian Creole English"
- Website of author Jerome Davis, former Barbadian Consul to Canada
- COMMON SENSE & EVIDENCE: The art of Bajan dialect, Nation Newspaper
- Caribbean Poetry-Barbados
- http://www.barbadosdialect.page.tl : Introduces the book "From Bajan To Standard English". Highlights Bajan Dialect. See 50 common Bajan expressions
- Reflections of Barbados (A RADIO PROGRAMME - AUDIO ONLY), The Barbados Government Information Service - Example of short stories in Bajan
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