Falkland Islands English

Falkland Islands English
Native toUnited Kingdom
RegionFalkland Islands
Ethnicity(presumably close to the ethnic population)
Native speakers
1,700 (2012 census)[1] 
Early forms
Language codes
ISO 639-3
GlottologNone
IETFen-FK
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A "Camp" settlement.
Map of the Falkland Islands

Falkland Islands English is mainly British in character. However, as a result of the isolation of the islands, the small population has developed and retains its own accent/dialect, which persists despite a large number of immigrants from the United Kingdom in recent years. In rural areas (i.e. anywhere outside Stanley), known as ‘Camp’ (from Spanish campo or ‘countryside’),[2] the Falkland accent tends to be stronger. The dialect has resemblances to Australian, New Zealand, West Country and Norfolk dialects of English, as well as Lowland Scots.

Two notable Falkland Island terms are ‘kelper’ meaning a Falkland Islander, from the kelp surrounding the islands (sometimes used pejoratively in Argentina)[3] and ‘smoko’, for a smoking break (as in Australia and New Zealand).

The word ‘yomp’ was used by the British armed forces during the Falklands War but is passing out of usage.

In recent years, a substantial Saint Helenian population has arrived, mainly to do low-paid work, and they too have a distinct form of English.

Settlement history

The Falkland Islands, a cluster of 780 islands off the eastern coast of Argentina, had no indigenous population when the British arrived to explore the islands in 1690.[4] Continuous settlement dates only to 1833, when British forces removed 26 Argentinian soldiers from the islands and claimed the islands for the British.[4] In 1845, the Capital city of Stanley, located on East Falkland, was established.[5] Argentina also has a claim to the islands, and in 1982, Argentine forces invaded the Falkland Islands. The British moved to defend the British control of the Islands, with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher calling the Islanders "of British tradition and stock".[6] In under three months, nearly a thousand people were killed, and over 2,000 were injured.[7] British-Argentinian tension regarding claim to the Islands still exists, but as over 98% of Islanders voted to remain under British sovereignty in the last election, the identity of the island overall is overwhelmingly British.[8] This history has implications for the linguistic features of Falkland Islands English, which is similar to British English but distinct in some vocabulary and phonology.