Barbados: Bajan Creole, Rastafari, Crop Over Festival, and The Grand Kadooment - Part 1

April 26th, 2016

Bajan is a language spoken on the Caribbean island of Barbados.

Barbados: Bajan Creole, Rastafari, Crop Over Festival, and The Grand Kadooment - Part 1 | One Hour Translation

Bajan is a language spoken on the Caribbean island of Barbados: it’s an English-based Creole language which, similar to other English-based Caribbean Creole languages, consists of an English super-straight and a west African substrate. Generally, the people of Barbados speak standard English in their day-to-day business, in Government, in courthouses, and on radio and TV; while the Bajan Creole language is reserved for less formal situations, such as in social commentary or in music.

The Bajan language is similar to, but distinguishable from, the Creole languages of neighbouring Caribbean islands. It’s theorised that other Caribbean creoles have Scottish English or Hiberno-English as their super straight variety, such as Jamaican Patois.

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The Bajan Language

The Bajan language is the Caribbean Creole language where the grammar most resembles that of Standard English. It’s not known for sure whether its Creole features were created due to an earlier pidgin state or some other reason such as close contact with other English-based Creole languages. One historical model states that Bajan was created when West Africans were captured and forcibly transported to the island: they were enslaved and required to speak English, even though they learned it imperfectly. The Bajan language became a means of communication for the slaves; a language that the slaveholders didn’t always understand.

Then, following emigration to the province of Carolina, the Bajan language influenced both the Gullah language and American English spoken in the Carolinas. Regionally, the Baja language has ties to Guyanese and Belizean Creoles.

Barbados became the destination of very few African-born captives after 1800, unlike Trinidad, Jamaica, and Guyana. This meant that it was quite early on in the island’s history that the African Barbadians became Banjanized; making them less resistant to local culture with its Anglicised religion, language, and customs. Today, Bajan has become a popular regional term for the nationals of Barbados; plus, their official name Barbadian.

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