Bajan (occasionally called Barbadian Creole) is an English-based creole language spoken by persons on the West Indian island of Barbados. Bajan uses a mixture of West African idioms and expressions along with English to produce a unique Barbadian/West Indian vocabulary and speech pattern. Bajan is easily distinguishable from the dialects of neighbouring Caribbean islands, as many of the other Caribbean islands are based on Irish- or Scottish-based English pronunciation such as Jamaican Patois.
Bajan uses a mixture of English and West African syntax, with much of the pronunciation of words sharing similarities with the Scouse accent of Liverpool, England. Bajan was first created when West African slaves were brought to the island and forced to speak English, with an existing West African understanding of language semantics. Bajan later became a means of communicating without always being understood by the slave masters. Unlike other Caribbean creoles, Bajan is rhotic. Bajan has a strong tendency to realize word-final /t/ as a glottal stop [ʔ]. Thus the Bajan pronunciation of start, [stɑːɹʔ], contrasts sharply with the pronunciation of other Caribbean speakers, [staːt] or [stɑːt] or [staːɹt].
The word Bajan is merely a Bajan pronunciation of the word Barbadian ("Bar-bayyd-ian"); however, through the process of palatalization characterizing the older accents which once prevailed in Barbados, the word sounded more like Barbajan ("Bar-bayy-junn") (much like "Injun" for "Indian"), and eventually it was just shortened to Bajan. For a short time before and after independence from Britain, Bajan was a somewhat negative term used to mean an uneducated Barbadian, but the term is no longer seen as such.
Today, Bajan is a popular term for citizens of Barbados, in addition to the official name, which is Barbadian. In general, the people of Barbados speak standard English on TV and radio, in courthouses, in government, and in day to day business, while the more relaxed dialect of Bajan is reserved for less formal situations. English is also usually used when talking formally or to tourists. Though English is the native tongue of all Barbadians, most native Barbadians opt to speak Bajan amongst themselves or when in a very relaxed setting.
- Communicating with Bajans
- FunBarbados.com - Island Jargon
- Bajan at Ethnologue
- Caribbean Poetry-Barbados
- Barbados dialect
bajan in Italian: Bajan
bajan in Dutch: Bajan (taal)