Bahamas Languages

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Description[edit | edit source]

The official language of The Bahamas is English.

Many people speak an English-based creole language (called Bahamian Creole or Bahamian English or Bahamianese).

Haitian Creole, a French-based creole language is spoken by Haitians and their descendants, who make up of about 25% of the total population. It is known simply as Creole[1] to differentiate it from Bahamian English. [1]

Word List(s)[edit | edit source]

Alphabet and Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

The Bahamian Alphabet is the same as the United States Alphabet.

Though there is variation between black and white speakers, there is a tendency for speakers to drop /h/ or, in a hypercorrection, to add it to words without it so harm and arm are pronounced the same. The merger occurs most often in the speech of Abaco and north Eleuthera.

Other characteristics of Bahamian Creole in comparison to English include:

  • Merger of the vowels of fair and fear into [ɛə]
  • Free variation of the "happy" vowel between [ɪ] and [i].
  • The vowel of first merges with that of fuss (into [ʌ]) among some and with the vowel of foist (into [ʌɪ]) in others.
  • As the creole is non-rhotic; /r/ is not pronounced unless it is before a vowel.
  • Final clusters are often simplified, especially when they share voicing (gold > gol, but not milk > *mil).
  • The pin–pen merger occurs. [2]

Language Aids and Dictionaries[edit | edit source]


Online Dictionaries

Langugage Aids

  • Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, Talkin' Bahamian : a useful guide to the language of the islands, Nassau, Bahamas : Guanima Press in association with the Counsellors Ltd., 1994 - Available at WorldCat
  • Bahamian Creole Grammar - Wikipedia

Additional Resources[edit | edit source]

  • Stephanie Hackert, Bahamian Creole, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2013 - Available at WorldCat
  • Stephanie Hackert, Urban Bahamian Creole : system and variation, Amsterdam : Benjamins, 2004 - Available at WorldCat

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "The Bahamas," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 27 Jul 2021.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Bahamian Creole," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 27 Jul 2021.