Journal: Learning a Dialect

Barbados is an island of the Caribbean. Just like any other island of the Caribbean, Barbadians speak a dialect. The Bajans call it “Broken English”. The Bajan dialect can be a bit challenging at times, but with a little patience and effort it can be quite easy.


When I first arrived, I had a lot of trouble understanding some of the most common expressions. During day three, the rest of the exchange students from California and I decided to enjoy a local eating-place. One of the Bajan men came up to us and asked if we wanted to lime later on. Because he was a stranger, I simply ignored him. Later on, a guy who is now one of my friends texted me and asked if I was interested in liming later on.  I honestly believed that liming involved some activity with a lime!


Since I was so confused, I decided to ask what that expression meant. He said that liming means hanging out!


Another time, one of my Bajan mentioned, “I gine eat.” I figured out that I gine means I will, or I am. Texting makes understanding a bit more challenging as well, since the dialect has spellings that are harder to recognize. There is no real agreed-upon way for how to spell words or expressions in this dialect.


Bajans pronounce I as ‘Ah’ in many instances. There is also a challenge to understanding what Bajans are saying because they speak fast. I have also noticed that some Bajans use standard English, but then they may speak with a heavier accent if they want to make sure that foreigners do not understand them.


There are ways to make learning a language or dialect more easy when arriving in a new country. First, everyone should make an effort to speak slowly.  Second, locals should be open to explaining more common expressions, especially those that are necessary for emergency situations. Third, visitors should always try to learn the local language.


Before going to a new country, I would recommend searching the Internet for local expressions and words. It’s a lot easier if you know the word “bathroom” when you desperately have to go! To avoid mixed signals, it also makes sense to understand who an individual is, what position they represent in society, in order to speak in their language to show respect appropriately.


There are countless values to learning a new language. It helps us to better understand cultural differences. It helps us learn where certain words or expressions come from. It can also help you get a job later in life. This skill is especially crucial when living in a country like the United States that consists of so many different types of people!

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