Bahamian (simply known by its users as “dialect”) is spoken by approximately 400,000 people in the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. (Although, the creole spoken in the Turks and Caicos Islands differs slightly from that spoken in the Bahamas).
Variations exists between the various islands, villages or communities on islands. Bahamian is spoken by both white and black Bahamians, although in slightly different forms. Bahamian also tends to be more "pronounced" in certain areas of the Bahamas, such as the Family Islands. It is also more prevalent among Bahamians with limited education. The use of Bahamian is also more prevalent in situations of heightened emotion.
Bahamian also shares similar features with other Caribbean English creoles, such as Jamaican Creole, Bajan, Trinidadian Creole and Virgin Islands Creole. There is also a very significant link between Bahamian and the Gullah language of South Carolina, as many Bahamians are descendants of slaves brought to the islands, from the Gullah region, after the American revolution.
In the Bahamas, Bahamian is not referred to as "Creole." If it were this would probably cause confusion as the Bahamas has a large immigrant Haitian population, whose native tongue is Haitian Creole, a French creole. Some scholars have argued that Bahamian speech has undergone significant 'de-creolisation', as a result of exposure to American mass media and association of stronger dialect with lack of education as has been witnessed in some other Caribbean islands and former colonial societies. As in many countries where a creole is spoken, educators are divided over whether the creole should be taught in schools. The Ministry of Education currently advises teachers to teach Standard English but encourage ‘enjoyment of and respect for Bahamian'.
The ability to switch between Bahamian and Standard English is common among many Bahamians, a skill artfully used by many of the nation's politicians 'to connect with the people'.
Pronouns in Bahamian are generally the same as in Standard English.
However, the second person plural can take the forms
and the third person plural
Possessive pronouns in Bahamian often differ from Standard English with:
In addition, the possessive pronouns mine, yours (sing.), his, hers, ours, yours (plur) and theirs often become mine's, yorns, he own, she own, we own, yinna's and dey own or des.
For example: Who book dis is? (Whose book is this?)
Bahamians have a separate pronoun form for describing actions done alone or by a single group or party:
This can also be applied when the proper noun is used:
Verb usage in the Bahamian differs significantly from that of Standard English.
Often a number of different alternatives exist for the same Standard English verb.
The verb "to go" is expressed in a number of different ways in Bahamian. There are no apparent rules but note the following examples:
1) I'm going to Freeport:
2) I am going to cook (some food)
3) Where are you going?
The verb "to do" has numerous variations depending on tense and context.
In these previous example, the verb "to be" can be substituted for the verb "to do", in that the word "does" can be replaced with the word "is". For example: I dis do dat"
The verbs "to do" and "to be" can be combined for effect, as in She dis don’t like dat (She doesn’t like that)
In the present tense, the verb "to be" is usually conjugated "is" regardless of the grammatical person:
In addition, note:
The negative of the verb "to be" usually takes the form "een" I een gern (I am not goin)
When the verb "to like" is combined with an infinitive, the "to" in the infinitive is usually dropped.
Generally, the past tense, of a verb, in Bahamian is formed by combining the present tense, of the verb, in Standard English with a word or words that indicate that the action happened in the past.
The past tense in Bahamian English can also be formed by combining:
In this instance, "done" usefully indicates "already" but "done" may also be used in conjunction with the word "already" as in
However, it is also possible to combine "done" with the present tense of a Standard English verb to form the past tense in Bahamian:
In addition, the word "gone" with the present tense or past tense of the relevant verb to form the past tense.
Similarly, the word "been" can be combined with the present tense or past tense of the relevant verb to form the past tense.
The sound /oi/ often becomes "er" "ur"
Conchy Joe: It refers to Bahamians who are a considered neither white nor black but instead are descendants of both the white British who settled in the Bahamas and their miscegenation with the freed slaves. The term was initially a racial slur but today, the term is no longer considered to be derogatory in nature.
jook: to stab or poke
mussy: literally- must be, dey mussy een wan come - 'it looks like they don't want to come' or it must 'be that they don't want to come.'
chile: Bahamian pronunciation of the English word child, frequently used as a form of address, or used to add emphasis to a sentence also it is used almost exclusively by women. Chile, she done graduate arready,chile! (She has already graduated)
dat ain no tru or dine no tru : that is not true
cut eye: to glare at someone and look away swiftly blinking the eyes firmly, literally describes the action of narrowing or 'cutting' your eyes.
God spare life: A very frequently used idiom used when describing a future action similar to 'God willing'. I guh see ya tomorra, god spare life
jungaliss: A derogatory term used to describe people (usually women) who are uncouth, act (and dress) without class and appear to have no desire to improve themselves.
suck ya teet: A sucking sound - the phrase means, suck your teeth - made to indicate anger/frustration. It is considered extremely disrespectful when done is direct response to the action(s) and/or statement(s) of another person. Don't you suck ya teet at me.
mudda sick (dred) or muddos: An expression of disbelief.
buhy: Bahamian pronunciation of the English word "boy". Dis buhy guh take ya tings if you ain't careful. Sometimes used as a form of address. Buhy, you ain't guh never believe what happen to me.
teef: Bahamian pronunciation of the English word "thief". Also, often used to mean "steal". I guh teef me one when I get a chance.
Tonkey: The meaning of a woman's vagina.
Bubby: The meaning of a woman's breast.
Doggy: The meaning of a man's penis.
Boongy or boongie: A person's buttox.