Languages of the Caribbean Islands

When exploring the Caribbean Islands, one of several fascinating aspects of the culture are the different languages of the Caribbean Islands that are spoken. Once you listen to English spoken there, it’s not American or of Great Britain dialects, but it possesses a unique accent that is extremely charming to hear. It definitely demonstrates the diversity of the cultural background, and a history of the Caribbean that is interesting and complex.

There are four official languages of the Caribbean spoken. However there are also number of creoles and local patois (hybrid languages). Dozens of the Creole languages of the Caribbean Islands are traditionally used for inter-ethnic communication. The four main languages are:

· Spanish (the first European language introduced and covers West and Central Caribbean)

· Dutch (on those islands of the Wonderland Antilles)

· English (North, Central and East)

· French (Central and East)

Additionally, there are a few additional lesser indigenous languages. A number of the native languages have become extinct or are dying out.

In the Caribbean, the official language is normally dependent on which ever colonial power (England, Spain, France, or the Netherlands) held sway over the island initially or longest. English is the first or second language in the majority of Caribbean islands as well as being the unofficial “language of tourism”. It’s the official language of Anguilla, Antigua, the Bahamas, Barbados the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Croix, St. John St. Kitts, and St. Thomas.

Spanish would be the language spoken by the majority of people, since it is the state language of the two largest islands, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, in addition to sharing English as the official language of Puerto Rico and Trinidad/Tobago.

French is spoken in Haiti, Martinique, and Guadeloupe, and St. Martin.

Dutch is the official language of Curacao, St Maarten, and two very small islands.

Those who speak language of the Caribbean Islands dialects, which are termed Patois or Creole, speak a language that is made up of an amalgamation between European English, Spanish, French, Dutch and African languages. That being said, vacationers often find themselves richly rewarded once they hear a ‘native language’ voiced, as often a Creole is used as the domestic language.

Soon after attaining independence, many Caribbean countries, in the quest for national unity, selected one language (generally the former colonial language) for use in government and education. In recent times, Caribbean countries have grown increasingly conscious of the significance of linguistic diversity. Language policies that are becoming developed today are pretty much targeted at multilingualism.

Source by Glen Wheaton



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