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Caribbean English is a broad term for the dialects of the English language spoken in the Caribbean, most countries on the Caribbean coast of Central America, and Guyana. Caribbean English is influenced by the English-based Creole varieties spoken, but they are not the same. In the Caribbean, there is a great deal of variation in the way English is spoken. Scholars generally agree that although the dialects themselves vary significantly in each of these countries, they all have roots in 17th-century English and African languages.

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Overview

Examples of the English in daily use in the Caribbean include a different set of pronouns, typically, me, meh, or mi, you, yuh, he, she, it, we, wi or alawe, allyuh or unu, and dem or day. I, mi, my, he, she, ih, it, we, wi or alawe, allayu' or unu, and dem, den, deh for "them" with Central Americans. The so-called "dropping the 'h'" or th-stopping in th- words is common. Some might be "sing-songish" (Trinidad, Bahamas), rhotic (Bajan, Guyanese), influenced by Irish English dialects (Jamaican), or have an accent influenced by any of these, as well as Spanish and indigenous languages in the case of the Central American English dialects such as the Belizean Creole (Kriol), or the Mískito Coastal Creole and Rama Cay Creole spoken in Nicaragua. However, the English used in media, education and business and in formal or semi-formal discourse is the International Standard variety with an Afro-Caribbean cadence.

Standard English - Where is that boy? (pronounced /hwɛəɹ ɪz ðæt bɔɪ/)

  • Barbados - 'Wherr iz dat boi?' ([hwer ɪz dæt bɔɪ]) (Spoken very quickly, is choppy, rhotic, and contains glottal stops; The most distinct accent)
  • Jamaica, and Antigua and Barbuda- 'Whierr iz daaht bwoy?' ([hweɪr ɪz dɑt bʷɔɪ]) (Distinctive, sporadic rhoticity; Irish and Scottish influence)
  • Trinidad and Bahamas - 'Wey iz dat boy?' ([weɪ ɪz dæt bɔɪ]) (Very similar to the accents of south western England and Wales; Have no rhoticity)
  • Guyana, Tobago, St. Vincent - 'Weyr iz daht bai?' ([weɪɹ ɪz dɑt baɪ]) (Many variations depending of Afro- or Indo- descent, and compentency in standard English; Sporadic rhoticity )
  • Belize, Panama, Nicaragua, The Bay Islands, Limón, and the Virgin Islands - 'Wehr iz daat bouy?' ([weɹ ɪz dɑt buɪ]) (Distinct, sporadic rhoticity, pronunciation becomes quite different from "Creole" pronunciation.)

The written form of the language in the former and current British West Indies conforms to spelling and grammar styles of Britain. Essentially, Caribbean English writing system is based on British English, but forbids the British accentuation, this by eliminating the glottal stop and the short a, which makes words have a question like sound.

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