The official language in the British Virgin Islands is English. It exists alongside the Virgin Island Creole which itself is based on the English language. It is referred to as a dialect by the locals as they consider it a variant of English rather than a proper creole language.

As it happens when a creole language and its lexifier, a post-creole continuum has developed. Within this continuum, Standard English exists on one end with the most basic and raw version of the creole on the other end - in the British Virgin Islands, this is mostly spoken by the older generation. In between the two extremes, there are speech variations, with the younger generations using one that is closer to English. Most residents can navigate this continuum effortlessly thus making it difficult to substantiate the number of people who speak either language. However, English can be spoken by over 75% of the population.

The Virgin Island creole does not have standard spelling as it is mostly a spoken language. However, communicating through creole over social media is becoming more and more common.

Other languages spoken in the British Virgin Islands are French as well as a French-based creole, Spanish, some Asian languages and some Indo-European languages. This is in large part due to the fact that a significant proportion of the workforce comes from outside the country. In 2004, this foreign workforce added up to 50% of the population.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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