Full Edition or go to 


Locals Guide To BarbadosVisitors Guide To BarbadosBarbados FunBarbados Business
Search our Site
Tools

 
 

Language of Barbados


You say potato, I say patato?

The local language of Barbados is often referred to as Bajan dialect, or quite simply 'Bajan'.

Although our native language here on the island is British English, the Bajan dialect can very often seem like a whole other language in itself.

Not surprisingly then, it can be difficult to understand, especially for visitors to the island.

However, those 'in the know' speak it freely and fluently on a daily basis and it is understood and accepted as 'native tongue' island-wide.

In official and formal settings, British English is both spoken and written, however in most casual settings, Barbadians speak a language that is a version of broken English, or pidgin (a simplified version of) English, mixed with very distinctive 'Bajanisms'.

To top it off, it's also spoken with a particular accent and is said to be inspired by various African languages brought over with the slave trade.

The language of Barbados doesn't just contain its own unique words, but also various island specific and often comical sayings.

It's not uncommon that the origin (and sometimes the true meaning) of these are unknown to the speaker, but you can rest assured they are peppered into conversations between, and understood in some way by, Bajans and honorary Bajans everywhere.

Do your 'ting, Bajan style!

If you're not already a well-versed Bajan, you'll soon realize that the Bajan dialect is completely limitless. Individual words usually have multiple meanings and words are commonly shortened versions of their original form.

For example 'ting' refers to 'thing', and 'dis' means 'this' as well as to disrespect or to fail to acknowledge someone or something.

Because word endings tend to be cut short, multiple words often flow into one long word. For example 'happen' rather than 'happened' and 'wha' rather than 'what', leads to the phrase 'whahappen?' as opposed to 'what happened?'

Another point to note is that in Bajan dialect, the sound created by 'th' is pronounced with a 'd' sound. For example, 'that' is pronounced 'dat', 'this' pronounced 'dis', 'the' spoken as 'de', and so on.

Bajans also seldom use the word 'very. Instead, the word that 'very' would be referring to is simply just repeated. For example, instead of saying 'that girl is very pretty', in Bajan, one would say 'dat girl pretty, pretty, pretty'.

For a more in depth look at the Bajan dialect, please read our Dialect of Barbados page.

Talk the talk - learn to speak like a Bajan

As we mentioned earlier, there are specific local sayings that are unique to our island culture and each have their own very specific meanings. The list really is endless.

Take a look at our 'Ya Know Ya is a Bajan When......Jokes' page where we have listed some of these unique and more often than not humorous sayings and phrases that are exclusive to the island of Barbados.

You'll be 'wukkin' up' and 'hollering' 'cheese on bread' in no time!

Author:
 
Feedback and Reviews
Back to: Culture
Visitor Rating: 9.00 from 1 users
Information Assumed Accurate On: Jul 28, 2014
Rate This Article
Visitor Comments:

By: Sabrina
@Juju
hi i am a barbadian/bajan.'soon come' means that we are coming even though we are far from coming. only bajans understands this as the sense of time eludes us. it is also a sense of frustration as the person may have asked that half hour ago and the respond was the same, it is just a way to soothe the person.
Date: Mar 8, 2014



By: cassiano genino de ima filho
In a world where English is the global and profitable language, that is, people make money by teaching, selling books, etc. So, if Barbados wants a piece of the cake. They should speak good English to take advantage of
the still growing business of the English Industry.
Date: Mar 19, 2013


By: Jenna $$$$$$$$
I am doing a project on Barbdos right now and this helped tremendously
Date: Dec 3, 2012


By: Alala Caboom
I like website. it helped lots. shank you.
Date: Apr 24, 2012


By: stephen
This website helped me a lot. Thank you sooooooooo so much.

Date: Apr 24, 2012


By: Adriana
This helped me a lot for my project for school.
Date: Jan 22, 2012


By: Susie
Such a sweet website
Date: Oct 11, 2011


By: deny
good info for my Barbados project
Date: Jul 13, 2011


By: habeke
It helped me learn all the information about Barbados, and one day i would want to visit Barbados.
Date: May 30, 2011


By: todd
thanks needed to know this for school
Date: Feb 7, 2011


By: jordan
barbados seems awsome this page made me bring my grade higher..... its
Date: Sep 7, 2010


By: tricia
i love this website cause it help me understand my little sister whenever she goes to barbados has a american and come back as a bajan lol
Date: Jun 29, 2010


By: Juju
Can anyone tell me what 'soon come' means in bajan/patois? I'v been told that it means never- not on your life! Is that true?
Date: Jun 8, 2010


By: Misty & Melissa Williams
wonderful page. helped a lot for a social studies project in Belize. thanks fi dat.
Date: Nov 16, 2009


By: Rose An
It really helps us,and it makes me think that I should always visit at your website.
Date: Oct 18, 2009


By: conrad
so totally awsome like everyone else said and it helped a school project
Date: Jul 1, 2009


By: Sabrina
Thsi is really good info for a project!! =)


Date: May 30, 2009


By: Candy
it was really helpful, thanks!
Date: May 14, 2009


By: darby
this is a great website-- it is totally going to help me out with my social studies project.
Date: Mar 22, 2009


By: Brittany
Awesome site! Really helped me on my project in Social Studies.
Date: Feb 19, 2009


By: kiran
great for my project
Date: Dec 2, 2008


By: stefanie davis
Very informative, it was nice to learn about my Grandfather's heritage.
Date: May 14, 2008


By: gi_gi
whoever made this website thank you i just doged an F on my history assinghnment thanks to TOTALLY BARBADOS
Date: Apr 27, 2008


By: Charlotte
I love this website it just helped me with my English on facts bout Barbados!
Date: Apr 26, 2008


By: dave
great site
Date: Mar 13, 2008


By: charlotte
awesome website I just used this info 4 using in social studies on a project bout barbados
Date: Mar 11, 2008


By: Kchaos
Cool! "Tis is very nice and helpul"
Date: Feb 18, 2008


By: Llysiz
l love this web site!

Date: Nov 28, 2007


By: clare
thanks! very helpful~
Date: Oct 18, 2007


By: M.J.
this helped me so much on my socail studies project!!! I got an A just by given ex. on the whole "T" thing!!!
Date: Oct 17, 2007


By: fordboy
good research
Date: Sep 25, 2007


By: donna
Great page quick read but quite insiteful. thank you
Date: Apr 14, 2007


By: Corey
awsome page helped me out on a barbados project
Date: Mar 26, 2007


By: Andrew
an awesome page i used for a project on barbados

Date: Mar 6, 2007


By: callum
its a great page for research
Date: Mar 1, 2007



Submit a Review or Comment
 
 
Members
 
Barbados Newsletter

Join The Totally Barbados Newsletter

 
Social Media Sharing
 


Please read our Disclaimer of Warranties & Legal Agreement. Privacy Policy
2014 Totally Barbados / Brecal Inc. (246) 420-2420. All rights reserved
140 B Durants Fairways, Oistins, Christ Church, BB17097, Barbados