Antiguan Creole

Antiguan Creole

Infobox Language
name=Antiguan Creole
states=Antigua and Barbuda
speakers=125 244
fam1=Creole language
fam2=English Creole

Antiguan Creole is a Creole language spoken in Antigua and Barbuda.

There are subtle differences in Antiguan Creole's usage by different speakers, and Antiguans 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 Antiguan 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, perhaps as an avenue of defiance, Antiguans came to think that speaking dialect was a part of their culture and therefore acceptable, even preferable.

Many of the words used in the Antiguan dialect are derived from English or African origins. The dialect was formed when slaves owned by English planters imitated the English of their masters 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?" There are also cases in which a slave would want to say the words, "Leave me alone" to his/her master, however due to the consequences such 'disrespect' would afford, they would say, "Leh me lone".


The Antiguan dialect 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 "grade".
* "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 Antigua's close proximity to North America:

* "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, Guyanese and Trinidadian culture. This is even more common among the youth. Examples:

* "Youth" and "star" meaning young man.
* "Bredgin" (derived from "Brethren" and "Partner") meaning close friend.
* "Sell off" meaning excellent or very good.

Examples of un-derivated words and phrases

# pickney/pickanyegah-: children
# ah wah mek: why
# chupit: stupid
# smaddy: somebody
# likkle: little
# ooman: woman
# nyam: eat
# tall: no, not me, not at all
# ahawah de joke yah tall: what in the world is going on?
# leh me lone: leave me alone
# ah good/tek dat: thats good for you/take that


Many non-Antiguans perceive that Antiguans drag their words. Words are expressively and rawly pronounced. Antiguan Dialect 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' (Probably due to the Spanish influence)
* 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

Dialect is used in almost every aspect of life in Antigua. In all schools, during class hours, it is required of students to speak the "Queen's English." This policy is especially exercised in private owned schools. In the city it is a common site to see men and women talking loudly in something that seems to be a completely strange language. The way it is spoken is very aggressive and can sometimes be interpreted as violent.

Most media and mainstream communication is written and spoken in Standard English however dialect is used humourously or as a way of identifying with the local public.

As stated earlier, dialect is used depending on socio-economic class. In general the higher and middle classes use it amongst friends and family but know when it is appropriate to switch and they possess the ability to switch. The lower class use dialect in almost every sector of life and some find it hard to speak proper English when necessary. Some have even been known to have trouble understanding it being spoken. Some Antiguans even mix the dialect and English.


*English: "I'm going down to John's house tonight."
*Dialect: "Me ah go dong ah John house tonight."
*Mixed: "Ah goin dong by John house tonight."

The Pronominal System

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.

Practical phrases

*English: "I'm going to work."
*Dialect: "Me a go ah work."

*English: "It tastes good."
*Dialect: "Eh tase good."

*English: "I don't like it."
*Dialect: "Me nah like um."

*English: "Girl, where are you going?"
*Dialect: "Gyal, ah weh you ah go?"

*English: "I'll see you later."
*Dialect: "See you," or "Later"

*English: "I didn't want to see her."
*Dialect: "Me nah min wahn fu see she."

*English: "It is my own."
*Dialect: "Ah fu me." or "Ah fu me own"

*English: "Don't tell us what to do."
*Dialect: "Nah tell ahwe wah fu do." or "No tell ahwe wah fu do."

*English: "You were gone too long."
*Dialect: "You min gawn too lang."

*English: "Good morning, how are things?"
*Dialect: "Marning, How tings?" or "Marning, Wah a gwarn?"

*English: "I'm doing well."
*Dialect: "Me yah." (Literally "I am here" meaning "I'm still alive so I'm good.")

*English: "It's my thing"
*Dialect: "Ah fu me sudd'n"

*English: "Whose is it?"
*Dialect: "who fu sudd'n this?"

*English: "Why are you acting this way?"
*Dialect: "Wah mek yuh ah act so"

*Englih: "Go away"
*Dialect:"Goo way"

ee also

*Antigua and Barbuda
*Caribbean English
*Jamaican Creole
*Virgin Islands Creole
*Antigua Carnival

External links

*ethnologue|code=aig|label=Antigua and Barbuda Creole English

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