English in Barbados

Barbadian English or Bajan English is a dialect of the English language as used by Barbadians (Bajans) and by Barbadian diasporas. It should not be confused with Bajan Creole, which is an English-based creole language.


Barbadian English is very rhotic and full of glottal stops. It is also very ubiquitous for the first vowel in price or prize.[clarification needed] One example of Barbadian English would be the pronunciation of departments, which is IPA: [dɪˈpaːɹʔmənʔs].

  • The realization of the KIT vowel ɪ/ in Barbadian English is pretty much the same as in American English, the default [ɪ].
  • The DRESS vowel ɛ/ is [ɛ].
  • The TRAP vowel æ/ is usually [a].
  • The LOT vowel ɒ/ is usually [ɑ] or [ɒ].
  • The STRUT vowel ʌ/ is the same as in the US English, [ʌ].
  • The FOOT vowel ʊ/ is [ʊ].
  • The FLEECE vowel / is [].
  • The FACE diphthong / varies by region and education/class: it manifests in educated speech generally as [] or sometimes [eɪ], and in rural and uneducated speech as the vowel [ɛ].
  • The PALM vowel ɑː/ is mostly [].
  • The THOUGHT vowel ɔː/ is [ɑː] or [ɒː].
  • The GOAT diphthong / is generally [] or [oə].
  • The NEAR diphthong ɪər/ and the SQUARE diphthong ɛər/ are both [eːɹ].
  • The START vowel ɑːr/ is [aːɹ].
  • The NORTH vowel ɔːr/ is usually [ɑːɹ] or [ɒːɹ].
  • The FORCE diphthong ɔːr/ and the CURE diphthong ʊər/ are both usually [oːɹ].
  • The BATH vowel ɑː/ is mostly [aː].
  • The CLOTH vowel ɔː/ is mostly [ɒː].
  • The NURSE vowel ɜːr/ is [ɤ].
  • The GOOSE vowel / is mostly [].
  • The PRICE/PRIZE diphthong / is generally [ʌɪ].
  • The CHOICE diphthong ɔɪ/ is either [ʌɪ] or [oɪ].
  • The MOUTH diphthong / is [ʌʊ].
  • The final HAPPY vowel i/ is pretty much alike the FLEECE vowel [iː].
  • The final LETTER vowel ər/ is [ɤ].
  • The final HORSES vowel ɪ/ is [ɪ].
  • The final COMMA vowel ə/ is [ə].
  • The TRAP and LOT vowels are not merged in Barbadian English. However the vowels of LOT, CLOTH and THOUGHT are generally merged.
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