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Barbados 101: Bajan Language

4th September, 2013
Barbadian People and Language

The official language of Barbados is English, but like our people, our dialect is referred to as “Bajan.” British English is taught in schools due to our rich history and heritage from the British culture, but in informal settings and every day conversations, the people of Barbados speak Bajan dialect, which is a mixture of broken English with some West African influences that were originally brought over by the African slaves many, many years ago. When we speak Bajan, many of the words are shortened, and “th” is often replaced with a “d.” For example, “the” turns into “de;” “this,” turns into “dis;” “that,” turns into “dat;” “then,” turns into “den.”

Some more examples of Bajan words are:

  • “Wunna” – you all
  • “All two” – both of you
  • “Flim”/ “Picture” – Movie
  • “Cuh-dear” – a phrase said when something is cute, or sweet
  • “Safe” – cool/good
  • “Lime” – hang out
  • “Wha part you is?” – where are you?
  • “Wuk up” – dancing by moving your waist and hips
  • “Caw blen” / “Cheese on bread” – a phrase when something happens – good or bad
  • “Pun” - On

Bajans also have their own proverbs and sayings. A few examples are:

  • “Betta fish in de sea dan wha ya catch” – there is always someone that will make a better lover than the current one
  • “When ya aint got horse, ride cow” – always utilize what you have available to you
  • “Ya can’t put mongoose to watch chicken” – never trust people with things that are temptations for them
  • “Donkey got long ear, but he don’t like to hear he own story” – people don’t like to hear or accept their own faults
  • “Don’t wait until de horse get out de stable to shut de door” – don’t wait until the situation gets out of control to try take corrective action
  • “Ef greedy wait, hot would cool” – patience will be rewarded
Melanie & Kimberly*

Comments

SoniaTerri Gittens's picture
SoniaTerri Gittens

Hey Ladies,
Just wanna shout ya out cause me luv de site....
Will be on de Rock com October 21 and would luv to know a
nice place to stay dat not costly....Las stay was at Amaryllis....nice right by de sea but a bit out of me pocket range des time....

Keep up de good wok pass'n on information to de world bout our Barbados.
Helps me keep up pun tings goin on down der.

Much Luv and Appreciation fuh all two do.

Any suggestions contact me eh.... e-mail gittensst@yahoo.com

Blue Sky's and Cool Breezes
Sonia

Princilla's picture
Princilla

how do you say hello, goodbye,please and thank you

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