Bahamian creole (autoglossonyms: (Bahamian) Dialect, Bahamianese) isspoken by ca. 250,000 speakers in The commonwealth of The Bahamas, anarchipelago of 700 islands and 2,400 cays covering 5,358 square miles andextending between southeastern Florida in the northwest and Hispaniola in thesoutheast. Just thirty that the islands space inhabited. The population of theBahamas totals ca. 300,000. The nation is greatly urbanized, with around twothirds of all Bahamians living in the capital, Nassau. Some 85% the the Bahamianpopulation room black, through whites amounting come 12% and also Asians and also people ofSpanish and also Portuguese origin to 3%. The 2000 census registered 21,000 Haitiansin the Bahamas, however some approximates including illegal immigrants put the currentnumber together high together 78,000, or 25% the the population. The Bahamas is among thewealthiest Caribbean countries, its economic situation being mostly dependent ~ above tourismand offshore banking.
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2. Sociohistorical background⇫¶
Although Columbus an initial set foot inthe new World on the Bahamian island of san Salvador, the Spanish were notinterested in settling in the Bahamas. Lock were aware of the poor of theBahamian soil, the lack of mineral wealth, and also the treacherous waterssurrounding the archipelago and also thus contented themselves through carrying off theindigenous Arawak indians to the yellow mines that Hispaniola, whereby they died outin the beforehand 1500s.
first permanent colony was established on the northern island the Eleuthera through afew dozen British religious dissenters indigenous Bermuda in 1648. It to be Bermudians,too, who – in 1666 – first settled on new Providence, ~ above the siteof what is now Nassau. Indigenous the beginning, servants and slaves to be a part ofthe shipments that arrived. Since Bermuda had an initial been settled in 1609, thoseblacks can have to be born one of two people in Bermuda or in Africa, and it is unclearwhat castle spoke. In any type of case, the Bahamian populace grew; by 1671, when thefirst census was taken, it amounted to about a thousand (Craton 1968: 70).Whites plainly outnumbered blacks: around 60% of every Bahamians to be white at thetime.
Fromthe beginning of the colony, Bahamians had actually relied on the sea because that a life infishing, turtling, or the salvaging of shipwrecks. Log cutting, salt raking,and subsistence agriculture were important as well. Common to every these pursuitswas the near contact between whites and also blacks. During the early period ofcolonialization, thus, blacks in the Bahamas have to have had ample access to thewhite settlers’ dialect – everything they may have spoken upon theirarrival. An interlude the piratical chaos and anarchy in the early on 1700s walk notchange this situation. Top top the contrary, Craton & Saunders (1992: 111) notethat piracy leveled both class and also race distinctions, and suitable blacks wererecruited to it just like whites and also enjoyed the same privileges aboard theships.
Itwas during the 1720s, after order had actually been restored, the the very first substantialcargo of afri (295 servants from Guinea) was lugged directly to the Bahamas(Craton & Saunders 1992: 119). The very same decade also saw the establishmentof a couple of plantations on brand-new Providence. Nevertheless, the Bahamian economy wasstill much from gift a typical plantation economy: the a full of 988 personsliving in the Bahamas in 1722, only 28% were provided as black, through percentagesvarying in between 35% for new Providence and 4% for Harbour Island.
Theblack relationship of the population gradually boosted over the course of theeighteenth century; by 1773, it had actually grown come 54%. Its boost was biggest onNew Providence, whereby 64% were now black (Craton & Saunders 1992: 162). Atthe exact same time, the number of slaves per holding was rising, and ever morerestrictive servant acts to be introduced. Also, slaves imported indigenous Africa cameto be preferred to slaves from various other colonies, because even though slaves fromother parts of the brand-new World were much better “seasoned”, i.e. Acquainted withplantation society and work, they were viewed as more an overwhelming to control. Whatthis suggests linguistically is that access to white arrays of English musthave become progressively limited – an especially on new Providence,where the growth of the black population segment was many noticeable. Thelikelihood the a full-fledged creolian was in basic use amongst Africans in theBahamas at the time, however, still seems small, as many blacks should still havelived in conditions that favoured the salvation of an ext or less closeapproximations come the white settlers’ dialects.
Table 1. expansion of the Bahamian populace during the eighteenth century
Turks and Caicos
Source: Hackert (2004: 37)
The creole spoken in the Bahamastoday was imported at the finish of the eighteenth century; that was carried by freeblacks and the slaves of loyalist north Americans, who had supported theBritish Crown during the American Revolutionary War and – after ~ theTreaty that Versailles in 1783 – left the freshly independent united States.Of the roughly 100,000 who emigrated, only around 7,300 (of whom 5,700were black) actually checked out the Bahamas, yet this tripled the colony’spopulation, raised the relationship of blacks from one half to 3 quarters,and increased the variety of permanently worked out islands from three to a dozen(Craton & Saunders 1992: 179). Historical and linguistic evidence (Hackert& Huber 2007; Hackert & Holm 2009) suggests that the Gullah-speakingareas, and also South Carolina in particular, played a prominent duty as a point oforigin because that both white and also black loyalists, which makes it extremely probable thatwhat was required to the Bahamas to be an early kind of Gullah quite than ofAfrican American Vernacular English, as had been assumed previously (Holm 1983;Shilling 1984). Contemporary Bahamian creolian may because of this be concerned as adiaspora variety of Gullah.
3. Sociolinguistic situation⇫¶
The majority of black Bahamianstoday speak a mesolectal type of Bahamian Creole. Basilectal speakers have tendency tobe yonsei Bahamians and/or those who live on the an ext remote islands,especially in the southeastern Bahamas. As in most other post-colonial speechcommunities, an adverse attitudes in the direction of the vernacular prevail. That is oftenviewed as “bad” or “broken” English, linked with backwardness and also a absence ofeducation, and also seen as an problem to the country’s modernization andintegration right into the global economy. Since independence in 1973, however, ithas obtained a rise as a price of national identity; over there are currently a numberof literary functions which employ it (e.g. Strachan 1997), and also traditional folktales and songs are currently being researched through Bahamians themselves (e.g. Glinton1994) rather of by international anthropologists. Regardless of the popularityBahamian Creole has actually received with these works, the role of typical Englishas the sole official language of the nation is uncontested. A consensus seemsto have emerged that back the “dialect” have to not it is in eradicated, it shouldremain restricted to particular domains and also functions. According to mostBahamians, Bahamian creole is suitable in informal, private instances aswell regarding convey humour and also social authenticity; if “serious” topics room athand, standard English is the type of speech called for.
Bahamian Creole has a collection systemwith 5 front vowels, five back vowels, and two central vowels. Thissystem shows attributes which hold together Bahamian creolian with various other English-basedcreoles that the Caribbean and with phibìc American Englishes, particularlythose spoken by afri Americans and in the southern Carolina and also Georgia LowCountry. Together for individual vowels, the Bahamian vowel of the trap lexical collection (Wells 1982) is oftennotably lowered and backed and also thus realized together rather of <æ>. The strut vowel may be rounded and also thus belocated close come the cardinal place of <ɔ>. The nurse collection is regularly realized as <əi>, through the an outcome of near-homophones such as verseand voice. Bahamian creolian is non-rhotic and therefore possessescentring diphthongs in near, square, north, force,and cure. The diphthongs the near and squareare generally merged, so the fear and also fair arehomophonous. Before nasals, <ɛ> might beraised come , possible homophones being same and also seem. A similarmerger underlies homophones such together home and also whom. Vice versa, the compensation diphthong is oftenmonophthongized, the pricediphthong is not.
Bahamian Creole has actually 24 consonants, the 3 bracketed consonants in Table 3being rare or missing in all yet acrolectal speech. A diagnostic feature is thestopping the both voiced and also voiceless interdental fricatives in all positions,as in tree for ‘three’, udderfor ‘other’, or toot for‘tooth’. Again, Bahamian Creoleappears to accounting an intermediary position, v the general pattern resemblingthat uncovered in various other Caribbean English creoles yet rates because that stopping an ext likethose observed in african American Vernacular English (Childs & Wolfram2004: 442). One more feature which unites Bahamian creolian with various other varietiesof English is syllable-final consonant cluster reduction, together in the realizationof guest together guess or let go as miss (Childs &Wolfram 2004: 445–446; Hackert 2004: 148–155). As in other places in theCaribbean, once the velar stops
As because that prosody, Bahamian Creole has been defined as an ext syllable-timed than British or Americanvarieties that English, however syllable timing is not absolute. Word stress and anxiety isgenerally ~ above the an initial syllable. Significant intonation patterns include thehigh climbing terminal contours of affirmative sentences and a more comprehensive pitch rangethan is commonly observed in brothers or American Englishes (Childs & Wolfram2004: 447–448).
Thereis no official orthography, so that varying techniques of “eye dialect”are work in works representing Bahamian creole in writing.In all following examples and in the glossed text appended come this chapter, traditional English orthography is employed. The many authoritative resource on the language come date, Holm & Shilling’s thesaurus of Bahamian English (1982), also represents entries in standard English. Moreover, even though it is clear that a typical transcription severely underrepresents the relationship of non-standard pronounced level extant in the data, unquestioning dependency on a writing system emerged for an additional creole would have actually introduced a prejudice in the contrary direction.
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5. Noun phrase⇫¶
There are various methods of marking numberin Bahamian Creole. The plural may not be expressed on the noun at every (oftenwhen an expression indicating quantity is present); it may likewise be indicatedvia pre- or post-nominal lock or the -s suffix: