The island of Montserrat is one of the overseas territories of the United Kingdom. Its two languages are English, which is the official language and Montserrat Creole which is widely spoken in the island. The former is non-indigenous and is the de facto national language while the latter is indigenous and falls under the classification of a vigorous language, which means that while it is not standardized, it is widely used amongst people from different generations. The Creole is a dialect of the Leeward Caribbean Creole English which falls under the family of English Creole which derives a lot of its vocabulary from both African and English words.

It is difficult to establish a precise number of English speakers and Creole speakers on the island because a continuum exists between the two languages and also due to the ease at which residents switch between the two. Social status is a determinant to what one speaks with persons on the lower end speaking a more basic form of Creole that has little similarity to the Standard English language.

As it is English based, Montserrat Creole borrows a lot of words from both the British and American English. For example, there are words like “bonnet” and “chips” from the former and others like “apartment” from the latter.

Along with the languages spoken today, Irish was also once spoken on Montserrat because Irish indentured laborers were among the first European settlers on the island.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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