Leeward Caribbean Creole English
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|Antiguan English Creole|
|Saint Kitts Creole|
|Native to||Antigua and Barbuda|
|Part of a series on|
|The English language|
Higher category: Language
Leeward Caribbean Creole English, also known by the names of the various islands on which it is spoken (Antiguan Creole, Saint Kitts Creole, etc.), is an English-based creole language spoken in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, namely the countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, Saint Kitts, and Nevis. It is part of a wider English Creole Language spoken throughout the Caribbean region in the countries of Antigua ad Barbuda, Belize, Montserrat, and Jamaica Saint Kitts and Nevis
There are subtle differences in the language's usage by different speakers, and islanders often use it in combination with Standard English. The tendency to switch back and forth from Creole to Standard English often seems to correlate with the class status of the speaker. Persons of higher social status tend to switch between Standard English and Creole more readily, due to their more extensive formal education in the English-language school system. Creole usage is more common, and is less similar to Standard English, as speakers descend the socioeconomic ladder.
Many Creole words are derived from English or African origins. The creole was formed when slaves owned by English planters imitated the English of their enslavers but pronounced it with their own inflections. This can be easily seen in phrases such as "Me nah go," meaning "I am not going," or in "Ent it?," presumably a cognate of "Ain't it?"
Vocabulary is widely influenced by British vocabulary, due to centuries of association with Great Britain. Examples:
- Bonnet refers to the hood of a car.
- Chips refers to French Fries. However, fries is commonly used as well.
- Form is used instead of the American high school grade. (7th Grade-1st Form; 11th Grade-5th Form)
- Car park instead of parking lot.
- Patty for flaky folded pastry, unlike the American patty, meaning hamburger patty.
- Mongrel is used instead of the US mutt.
- Biscuit is used instead of the US cookie.
However, in other cases the American form prevails over the British one, due to the islands' close proximity to the United States:
- Apartment is used instead of the British flat.
- Elevator instead of the British lift.
Because of the influx of other Caribbean nationals to Antigua, due to natural migration and to the CSME, Antigua's everyday vocabulary is being influenced by Jamaican Creole, Bajan Creole, Guyanese Creole and Trinidadian Creole. This is even more common among the youth. Examples:
- Yute and star meaning young man.
- Breda (derived from Brethren and Partner) meaning close friend.
- Sell off meaning excellent or very good.
Examples of un-derived words and phrases
- pickney: child
- pickanyegah: children
- ahyue: collective address in the manner of "you all" or "y'all"
- ah wah mek: why
- chupit: stupid
- smaddy: somebody
- likkle: little
- 'ooman: woman
- nyam: eat
- sudden/subben/leff dee 'ooman sudden/leff dee 'ooman subben: can refer to an object or thing/ leave her things alone
- cassy/cassie: a thorn, such as from a rosebush
- t'all: no, not me, not at all
- ah wah dee/da joke yah tarl/ah wah me ah see ya tarl: what in the world is going on?
- leh meh lone: leave me alone
- ah good/tek dat/ah baay/inna ya battum ho'al: that's good for you/take that
- tap lie: stop lying
- tap ya chupitniss: stop being silly
- ah true/choo: it's the truth
- ahnna true/choo: it's not true
- look yah: look here
- look day: look there
- kum ya: come here
- a fu you: Is it yours?
- move from dey: get away from there
- ah wat a gwaan/ wa gwaan: what's going on?
- luk day: look there!
- ah huffa daag dat?: whose dog is that?
- a fu you ee fah?: is it yours?
- e dutty: it's dirty!
- dadday: that
- day'ya: there
- me nuh eeben know way dadday day: I don't know where it is.
- gyal: girl
- atta: at (Example: me guh laff atta you; I am laughing at you)
- naal: not (Me naal do um; I am not doing that)
- dung: down (Bredda man, kuum dung fram ahffa pan tappa up day; Hey, get down!)
- yaad: (my, her, his) house (She ah go day'ya she yaad; She's going home.)
- min: used to indicate the past tense of a verb (example: me min nyam; I ate | Ya min cook; Did you cook? | She min day'ya sleep, She slept.)
- dun: strictly used to tell that something has finished (E dun?; Is it finished? | Ya dun?; Are you finished?)
- siddung: sit down
- git up: get up
- tun rung: turn around
- tun um ahn: Switch it on (Example: Tun de light ahn; Switch on the lights)
- tun um ahf: Switch it off
- gwaan/gwaan head: go ahead
- innaddy: in (de sudden innaddy bax; it's in the box)
- cunchee: countryside (he libba cunchree; He lives in the countryside)
- tung: town or city (usually referring to the country's capital; Example: Me ah go tung/Me a go'ah tung; In going into the city)
- see you: see you later
- jack: used to show annoyance (see you jack: See you later (with an attitude))
- bruk: to break, broke (E bruk?; Did it break? | Muh bruk; I'm broke | She bruk um/She min bruk um; She broke it)
- muh nuh nuh: I don't know
- muh nuh; muh dun nuh: I know; I already know, I knew that already
- Mek she nuh go find she own man: why does she not get a man of her own?
- Knuckle: cheating ( something widely and frequently discussed on Antiguan Twitter)
Antiguan is pronounced very similarly to Jamaican. This has led some to surmise that the slaves of these countries came from the same place in Africa. Below are a few ways in which some language blends are fused or changed completely.
- "TR" as in 'Truck' is pronounced "CH", thus: 'Chruck.'
- "DR" as in 'Dress' is pronounced" J", thus: 'Jess'
- "TH" as in 'Them' is pronounced "D", thus: 'Dem'
- "TH" as in 'Think' is pronounced "T", thus: 'Tink'
- "WN" as in 'Down' is pronounced "NG", thus: 'Dung'
- "V" as in 'Vex' is pronounced "B", thus: 'Bex'
- Sometimes an ending "T" is left off and words such as 'Best' sound like 'Bess'. Expect sounds like 'Expeck'; and 'Left' sounds like 'Leff'.
Antiguan Creole is used in almost every aspect of life in Antigua. In all schools, during class hours, it is required of students to speak Standard English. This policy is especially exercised in private owned schools. Most media and mainstream communication is written and spoken in Standard English, although Antiguan Creole is sometimes used humorously or as a way of identifying with the local public.
Use of Antiguan Creole varies depending on socio-economic class. In general, the higher and middle classes use it amongst friends and family but switch to Standard English in the public sphere. The lower class tend to use Antiguan Creole in almost every sector of life.
The Pronominal System
- The pronominal system of Standard English has a four-way distinction of person, singular/plural, gender and nominative/objective. Some varieties of Antiguan Creole do not have the gender or nominative/objective distinction, though most do; but usefully, it does distinguish between the second person singular and plural (you).
I, me = me; you, you (thou, thee) = yu; he, him = he; she, her = she; we, us = ah-we; they, them = dem;
To form the possessive form of the pronoun add "fu-" to the above. However, the pronoun "our" is an exception where we add "ar-".
my, mine = fu-mi; your, yours (thy, thine) = fu-yu; his, his = fu-he; her, hers = fu-she; our, ours = ah-we; you all = ah-yu; their, theirs = fu-dem
- a fu-yu daag dat?, is that your dog?
- a fu-yu daag dat day nuh, that is your dog.