The island of Barbados has only two recognized languages. Standard English is used as the official language for administration and communication. It bares much similarity to British English. The other language is an English based Creole known as Bajan Creole. It is also known as Barbadian Creole English. It is classified as a vigorous language and is the de facto language of national identity. It is a combination of Standard English and some West African languages. It is mainly a spoken language.

It is estimated that Barbados has about 286,000 people who use Bajan Creole as their main language, with about 1,000 using English as their main language. Most people in the country can communicate in English as the country’s literacy rate was ranked close to 100% by UNESCO in September 2007.

Bajan is mostly spoken in informal settings. There is a lot of variation in the spelling as it does not have a standardized written form. Bajan does not recognize past tenses, and the word "gine” is often used for future tenses, for example, “I gine eat” meaning "I am going to eat.”

More than 90% of the population of Barbados is of Afro-Caribbean descent. The rest is made up of some Europeans referred to as Euro-Bajans who make up about 4% of the population. There are also minority groups who mainly originate from Asia and Guyana. Despite the presence of these other communities, standard English and Bajan Creole are the island’s major languages. Increasingly, Barbadians, especially those working in hotels, are learning foreign languages with French and Spanish being the most commonly taught languages in schools.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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