Bajan Dialect

Nowadays it is not often that we get to hear local entertainers perform Bajan dialect. Some may argue that is not commercially viable as the audience base will be limited. However, with the advent of computer technology the market for “Bajan dialect” is not limited to those of us residing in Barbados. The Bajan diaspora in the USA and the UK are willing to pay top dollar to see and hear a traditional Barbadian story performed by actors speaking in genuine Bajan dialect!

Please sit and enjoy Jeanette Layne-Clarke’s humorous radio series based on the life of some fictional Barbadian characters. Hushfield (the husband of Dora) Dora and Gwennie (Dora’s sister and Hushfield’s favourite sister-in-law). Hushfield is played by Alfred Pragnell, Dora is played by Andrea Gollop and Gwennie by Marvo Manning.

Isn’t it time for the next generations of performers to produce work of this quality, using Bajan dialect,  on video?

The official language of Barbados is English but when Barbadians relax in an informal setting  you will often hear the Bajan dialect, which is an English-based Barbadian Creole. The Bajan dialect is a language that linguists classify as broken English. Some will argue the Bajan is a language with it’s own structure and rules. Whatever your opinion is most agree that Bajan is a colorful and expressive dialect that is a pleasure to hear.

The Bajan dialect uses English words with African syntax, and speakers have an accent best described as a combination of African and British. Although not as extreme as the creole dialects of Jamaica, Guyana and to a lesser extent Trinidad, the unusual sentence structure and fast-paced of Bajan  speech can make the Bajan dialect hard to understand to anyone not familiar with it.

Bajan is the Caribbean creole with the closest grammar to Standard English. There is academic debate on whether its creole features are due to an earlier pidgin state or to some other reason, such as contact with neighboring English-based creole languages. In one historical model, Bajan arose when captive West Africans were forcibly transported to the island, enslaved and forced to speak English, though learned imperfectly. Bajan later became a means of communicating without always being understood by the slave holders.

From Bajan to Standard EnglishFor an interesting examination of the bajan dialect, get the book “From Bajan to Standard English” written by E. Jerome Davis for a comprehensive presentation.. also available “Understanding Bajan Dialect – for Tourists and Visitors to Barbados. For a preview of this book CLICK HERE.

Available at PAGES BOOK STORE in Barbados.
BIWAY BOOK STORE (AIRPORT)
BARBADOS MUSEUM (Understanding Bajan Dialect only)

email the author: ejerome55@yahoo.ca

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