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Distinctive Language

English is the primary and official language in the Bahamas. Dialects and differences in vocabulary and pronunciation can vary from island to island, including French Creole among immigrants from Haiti.

A large majority of the population speaks Bahamian Dialect, which is a distinctive blend of Standard English and Bahamian Creole. African influences can still be found in Bahamian dialect, with African words and expressions such as these examples:

  • yinna - you (plural) (Yoruba)
  • nanny -(v.n.)- feces or the act of defecation (probably of Kongo origin, from the word nene, of similar meaning)
  • cut eye - an expression found in many Caribbean and Atlantic creoles, meaning to glare, literally squint or 'cut' your eyes /roll your eye
  • Jumbay - ghost, related to the Kongo word nzumbi of similar meaning
  • Yam - to eat, still in use in some southern and eastern islands, related to the African word nyam'
  • Bey - meaning boy or a young boy or young lady

English can sound very different in the Bahamas. The "th" sound changes to "t" and "h" in particular is often dropped, as in "'appy birthday." "W" may become "v," and "s" sometimes becomes "z." Past and future tenses may be ignored.

Read More: Dictionary of Bahamian English