Infobox Language
name=Barbadian Creole / Bajan
fam1=Creole language
fam2=English Creole

Bajan (occasionally called Barbadian Creolecite web|url=|title=ISO code EN|publisher=Ethnologue|accessdate=2008-07-21] ) or Barbadian Dialect [ [ "What is the official language of Barbados?"] The Barbados Ministry of Tourism] , is an English-based creole language spoken by persons on the West Indian island of Barbados. Bajan uses a mixture of West African idioms and expressions along with British English to produce a unique Barbadian/West Indian vocabulary and speech pattern. Bajan is easily distinguishable from the dialects of neighbouring Caribbean islands, as many of the other Caribbean islands are based on Irish- or Scottish-based English pronunciation such as Jamaican Patois.

Bajan uses a mixture of British English and West African syntax, with much of the pronunciation of words sharing similarities with the lilt of the West Country dialects of England. [ [ Surf Nation] , Alex Wade, Simon and Schuster, 2008: "The Bajan accent is a curious mix of Geordie and West Country sounds"] Due to emigration to North and South Carolina, Bajan has also influenced and given-way to the Gullah language spoken in the United States. [cite book |author=Carrington, Sean |title=A~Z of Barbados Heritage |year=2007 |publisher=Macmillan Caribbean Publishers Limited|pages=pp 113, 114 |isbn=0-333-92068-6] Regionally Bajan has ties to Belizean and Guyanese Creoles. Bajan was first created when West African slaves were brought to the island and forced to speak English, with an existing West African understanding of language semantics. Bajan later became a means of communicating without always being understood by the slave masters. Unlike other Caribbean creoles, Bajan is rhotic. Bajan has a strong tendency to realize word-final /t/ as a glottal stop IPA| [ʔ] . Thus the Bajan pronunciation of "start", IPA| [stɑːɹʔ] , contrasts sharply with the pronunciation of other Caribbean speakers, IPA| [staːt] or IPA| [stɑːt] or IPA| [staːɹt] .

The word "Bajan" is merely a Bajan pronunciation of the word "Barbadian" ("Bar-bayyd-ian"); however, through the process of palatalization characterizing the older accents which once prevailed in Barbados, the word sounded more like "Barbajan" ("Bar-bayy-junn") (much like "Injun" for "Indian"), and eventually it was just shortened to "Bajan". For a short time before and after independence from Britain, "Bajan" was a somewhat negative term used to mean an uneducated Barbadian, but the term is no longer seen as such.

Today, Bajan is a more popular regional term for nationals of Barbados, in addition to the official name, which is "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 the more relaxed dialect of Bajan is reserved for less formal situations, in music, or in social commentary. Standard English is the native tongue of all Barbadians is usually used when talking formally or to tourists. Barbadians may also opt to speak Bajan amongst themselves or when in a very relaxed setting. Bajan is a spoken dialect, without much of a standardised written form and it varies throughout the island. When written, spelling will vary widely from person to person. Bajan words and sentences presented below are largely spelt as they are pronounced.


Like most West Indian dialects and creoles, the "th" sound tends not to exist in Bajan and is replaced by "d" so that the = "de"; that = "dat" or "dah"; them = "dem". Where th falls at the end of a word it is pronounced as an "f" as in "teef" or the cardinal directions of "norf" for north and "souf" for south. The word for you (plural) is "wunna". Compare to Jamaican patois "unnu" / "unna" or Bahamian "yinna").
Bajans tend to drop conjugated forms of the verb to be from sentences so that I am hungry becomes "I hungry".

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. "Did you (plural) win the cricket match?" becomes "Wunna win de cricket? "or "Is that yours?" becomes "dah is yours? "

Habitual actions are usually indicated by the word "does" so that the following statement in standard British English "I go to church on Sundays" becomes "I does guh church pun Sundays" in Bajan dialect. It is quite common for this to be shortened to "I's guh church pun Sundays."

Past tense in Bajan is usually indicated by the verb plus a marker word eg. "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.

The word "gine" (as in "going") is usually used to mark the future tense e.g. "I gine eat de food" = "I will eat the food".

"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 the often rapidly spoken Bajan dialect "Ah'n" i.e "Ah'n do dah" or "Ah'n able".

Examples of Bajan


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

Body expression

Like many of the other English-based dialects around the Caribbean region, Bajans can be expressive by using their bodies when communicating. The lips, hands, feet, tilt of the head, or other gestures can explain a situation almost as straightforwardly as the dialect. For example in local custom, if someone sucks air through their teeth in a short but loud burst (called a "stupes", a "schupse", or "chupsin' one's teeth" locally), and it is directed at someone or something, that is the sign of annoyance or the equivalent of saying that someone is a fool, or what they saying is mere foolish talk. This can also be done by the rolling of the eyes away from someone while in communication or flinging a hand at them in a shooing manner.

Bajans can also tend to be expressive with their hands when in discussion, for example there can be a tendency when in an intense discussion to punctuate a sentences or points by someone slapping the back of ones hand in the other hand to forcefully carry across a point.


Further reading

* 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.

ee also

*Queen's English
*British English
*English-based creole languages
*Barbadian culture
*Music of Barbados
*From Bajan To Standard English by E. Jerome Davis

External links

* [ Communicating with Bajans]
* [] - Island Jargon
* [ Bajan at Ethnologue]
* [ Barbados dialect] :* [ Language of Barbados]
* [ Wiwords] A cross-referencing dictionary of West Indian words with a large number of Barbadian terms
* [ bajanfuhlife-taking you into the life of all things bajan]
* [ from the "Society of International Education" journal, discusses the origins of Bajan language]
* [ 50 Frequenty Asked Questions on Caribbean Language] by the Society for Caribbean Linguistics
* [ The History of Creoles and the French Language]

Learn Bajan

* [ Caribbean Poetry-Barbados]
* [ Two Words] : A look at the dynamics of Bajan and how it differs from British (Standard) English.

* : Introduces the book "From Bajan To Standard English".Highlights Bajan Dialect. See 50 common Bajan expressions.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bajan — des russischen Herstellers Iupiter Das Bajan ist die osteuropäische Form des Chromatischen Knopfakkordeons. Unterschiede zum Akkordeon bestehen in der Ausführung des Gehäuses und der Art der Stimmplatten. Die Stimmzungen eines Bajans sind… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • bajan — bàjan (bajȁn) m DEFINICIJA glazb. staro rusko narodno glazbalo; harmonika ETIMOLOGIJA rus. boján, prema legendarnom ruskom pjevaču Bojanu …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Bajan — Bajan, 570–630 n.Chr. König der Avaren, s.d …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Bajan —   [russisch/tatarisch], in Russland verbreitete Form des Akkordeons mit beidseitiger chromatischer Knopfgriffanordnung …   Universal-Lexikon

  • bȃjan — prid. 〈odr. jnī〉 jez. knjiž. 1. {{001f}}koji je iznimne ljepote; divan, krasan, bajoslovan, zanosan 2. {{001f}}koji se zasniva na fabuli, priči; legendaran, čaroban …   Veliki rječnik hrvatskoga jezika

  • bajan — bȃjan prid. <odr. jnī> DEFINICIJA jez. knjiž. 1. koji je iznimne ljepote; bajoslovan, divan, krasan, zanosan 2. koji se zasniva na fabuli, priči; čaroban, legendaran ETIMOLOGIJA vidi bajati …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • bajan- — on variants of bejan …   Useful english dictionary

  • Bajan — Ba·jan (bāʹjən) n. A Barbadian. adj. Of or characteristic of Barbados: Bajan cooking; a Bajan accent.   [Shortening and alteration of Barbadian.] * * * …   Universalium

  • Bajan — Ba|jan der; s, e <aus gleichbed. russ. bajan> russ. ↑chromatisches Akkordeon mit Knopfgriffanordnung …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • Bajan — 1. noun a) Barbadian b) a Creole language spoken on the island of Barbados 2. adjective Barbadian …   Wiktionary