The aim of this study is to explore Caribbean English and its' main features.
This objective involves the following tasks:
1) consideration of the concept of the Caribbean English
2) analysis of its' features and differences;
Caribbean English is a broad term for the dialects of the English language spoken in the Caribbean and Liberia, most countries on the Caribbean coast of Central America, and Guyana. Caribbean English is influenced by the English-based Creole varieties spoken in the region, but they are not the same. In the Caribbean, there is a great deal of variation in the way English is spoken. Scholars generally agree that although the dialects themselves vary significantly in each of these countries, they all have roots in 17th-century English and African languages. From the early 1700s, thousands of people were transported as slaves to the Caribbean, particularly from West Africa. As a result a number of pidgin languages developed. A pidgin language is a linguistically simplified means of communication that emerges naturally when speakers of two or more languages need to understand each other. Initially workers on the colonial plantations in the Caribbean would have spoken a variety of ethnic languages, but the language imposed on them by slave owners was English. Among the workers themselves, however, a pidgin language would have been used, based on the sounds, vocabulary and grammatical structures of all the contributing languages.
The term Caribbean English includes:
- Regionally accented varieties of the standard language: standard Jamaican English.
- Localized forms of English: Barbadian English.
- Mesolects between English and Creole, as found in most communities.
- Kinds of English used in countries where Spanish is official or dominant, such as the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico
- Varieties of English-based Creole: Creolese in Guyana, Jamaican creole, Sranan in Surinam.
History and development of the Creole
Like most other such creoles, Caribbean English Creole is the outcome of contact among Europeans and West Africans in the course of European expansionism, the slave trade, and the colonization of the New World. The regional dialects of the English-speaking colonists were the dominant source of vocabulary for Creole before the 20c. More recently, standard varieties of English, propagated by contemporary mass media and the increased availability of schooling, have fed the expansion of the vocabulary. Large numbers of lexical items and phrases of West African provenance form part of the daily vocabulary. The grammatical structure of the group shows patterns that are characteristic of West African language families, patterns that are particular to creole languages as a whole, and features that appear to be restricted to the Caribbean Creole group.
- The varieties of Jamaica, Barbados, and Guyana are rhotic; the varieties of the Bahamas, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, and the lesser Antilles are non-rhotic.
- Rhythm tends to be syllable-timed.
- There are fewer diphthongs than in Standart English: the distinction /i?/ versus /??/ is neutralized in most varieties, so that beer/bare, fear/fare share the same vowels
- Final consonant clusters tend to be reduced in all but the most careful speech, as in ‘han’ for hand.
- <th> in words such as think and three is pronounced using a <t> sound and in words such as this and thatusing a <d> sound
The syntax of Caribbean English approximates fairly closely to general mainstream English. Special features include:
- Would and could are common where British English has will and can: I could swim I can swim; I would do it tomorrow I will do it tomorrow.
- Where British English has a simple past there is often a past perfect: The committee had decided The committee decided.
- Yes-no questions with a declarative word order and rising intonation are much commoner than the inversion of auxiliary and subject: You are coming? Are you coming?
In conclusion, we would like to say that Caribbean English is not just a dialect; this term includes different types of language variants and forms. The reason of these differences is a historical development of the region: colonies, slave-trade etc.