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Bahamian English
RegionThe Bahamas
Early forms
Language codes
ISO 639-3
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Bahamian English is a group of varieties of English spoken in The Bahamas and by members of the Bahamian diaspora. The standard for official use and education is British-based with regard to spelling, vocabulary, and pronunciation;[1] however, perceptions of the standard are more recently changing towards American norms. In particular, 21st-century news-industry and younger Bahamian speakers are often more influenced in their pronunciations by General American English or sometimes even African-American Vernacular English.[1]


The phonology of Bahamian English is believed to be derived from those of Bermudian English, Cockney English, RP, Scottish English, African-American Vernacular English, and Gullah, according to Reaser and Torbert (2004).[2]

The Bahamian accent is traditionally non-rhotic, but often now rhotic among younger speakers.[1][3]

The realization of vowels in Bahamian English is as follows. The vowels below are named by the lexical set they belong to:

Vowels are often nasalized before [n].[4]

There is poor distinction between the [v] and [w] sounds in Bahamian English.[6] The contrast is often neutralized or merged into [v], [b] or [β], so village sounds like [wɪlɪdʒ], [vɪlɪdʒ] or [βɪlɪdʒ]. This process is especially common among white speakers.[4] This also happens in the Vincentian, Bermudian and other Caribbean Englishes.

Dental fricatives are usually changed to alveolar plosives (th-stopping):

The sound /t/ changes to [k] in the letter combination "str", leaving words like "strangle" to be pronounced as [skɹeɪŋgl̩].[5]

The sound /h/ is often inserted into words that are not spelled with the letter H, leaving "up" to be pronounced as [hʌp]. However, it is also frequently dropped from words that are spelled with an H, so "harm" is left to be pronounced as [ɑːm].[4]

The sibilant fricatives /z/ and /ʒ/ are devoiced and merged to [s].[4]


The grammar is not so different from the US ( as per Zaka ).

When emphasizing a word in Bahamian English, it is common to repeat it.[7] (the car was going fastthe car was going fast fast)

The past participle is not indicated using the verb "have" in Bahamian English. Instead, it is indicated with the verb "be", especially among white speakers. (I have already washed the clothesI am already washed the clothes) It can also be omitted and replaced by "done", with the verb left in its present-tense form. (I done wash the clothes) This practice is common among both white and black speakers.[4]

For some speakers (particularly black speakers), the present progressive is written using the present participle preceded by "does be" (I does be washing the clothes). Among white speakers, it is more common to just use "be" when talking in the third person. (They be washing the clothes)[4]

The possessive indicator 's is often omitted.[4]

Questions retain the same syntax as statements; the subject and verb do not switch their positions. (What is she doing?What she is doing?) Thus, the use of "ain't" is highly important to distinguish an interrogative sentence from a declarative sentence.[4]


Much of Bahamian terminology is derived from British English, West African languages, and Spanish, due to the country's colonial past.[7] Bahamian English has also come under the influence of American English due to a boost in tourism after the country gained independence, along with the resulting diffusion of American media.[4]

Some distinctive Bahamianisms include:


  1. ^ a b c Ammon, Ulrich; Dittmar, Norbert; Mattheier, Klaus J. (2006). Sociolinguistics: An International Handbook of the Science of Language and Society. Walter de Gruyter. p. 2069. ISBN 978-3-11-018418-1. British-based standard Bahamian English is the official language [...] Although standard Bahamian is non-rhotic, many Bahamians view r-full American pronunciations as "correct" and try to imitate them, even to the extent of introducing a hypercorrect /r/ in [...] Baharmas.
  2. ^ Reaser, Jeffrey; Torbert, Benjamin (2008-12-19). Bahamian English: morphology and syntax. De Gruyter Mouton. doi:10.1515/9783110197181-101. ISBN 978-3-11-019718-1.
  3. ^ Wells, J. C. (1982). Accents of English. Vol. 3: Beyond the British Isles. Cambridge U. Press. p. 570. ISBN 978-0-521-28541-4. The accents of Trinidad and the other Windward and Leeward Islands, and of the Bahamas, are non-rhotic. Jamaica and Guyana occupy intermediate positions, with variable semi-rhoticity.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Linguistic Features".
  5. ^ a b "Grammar Rules". March 2013.
  6. ^ Childs, Becky; Wolfram, Walt (2008). "Bahamian English: phonology". In Schneider, Edgar W. (ed.). Varieties of English. Vol. 2: The Americas and the Caribbean. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 239–255.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Smith, Rogan (19 July 2021). "16 Bahamian Words You Need to Know | This Bahamian Gyal".
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Storr, John Frederick (1964). Ecology and Oceanography of the Coral-Reef Tract, Abaco Island, Bahamas. Geological Society of America. ISBN 978-0-8137-2079-1.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "15 Phrases to Know Before Visiting the Bahamas". 22 December 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Bahamian Slang | This Bahamian Gyal". 27 May 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Bahamas Slang Bahamian Speak Talk".
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Bahamas words and phrases 2022 | 15 fun sayings and quotes". 30 June 2018.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g "Talkin Sex Stuff". 21 March 2013.
  14. ^ a b c "Ting's to Say".
  15. ^ a b How to Buy and Sell Real Estate in the Bahamas: Insider's Guide. Matthew Simon. 12 March 2012. ISBN 9781438250519.