English has been the official language of Barbados since its early settlement days. Most people also speak a Bajan dialect. This dialect is a fusion of English, African languages, local idioms and remnants of Amerindian languages. The result is a unique, expressive and colourful language. Like other languages, the Bajan dialect is constantly evolving as new words and expressions are added.

 Bajan dialect uses grammatical "short cuts." Auxiliary verbs may be dropped from some expressions. For example, instead of saying "I am going," a person may say "I gone." The subjective pronoun may be used in place of the objective or possessive; for example, "tell we" or "it is we culture." The end of the past participle may be dropped; for example, instead of saying, "it is finished," a Bajan would say "it finish." 

When forming a question, Bajans often do not invert the subject and verb. Questions are expressed as statements, but speakers will raise their voices at the end of the sentence to indicate that they are asking a question. Instead of using the word "very" to emphasize an idea, Bajans may repeat a word. For example, to indicate that a car went very fast, a Bajan would say, "the car went fast, fast, fast." Certain words and expressions also have specific local meanings. For example, "ignorant" in Bajan dialect means very aggressive or mean. 

Bajans have a great sense of humour and love teasing one another. The humour is not meant to be unkind. It is sometimes a way to cover up serious emotions or just to have fun. Greetings may also be expressed in the form of humour to break the ice. Body language is a clue to the content and intent of what is being communicated.

  Did you know?
Barbados has a rich legacy of proverbs. For example, "Trouble don' set up like rain" (You can't always see trouble coming). "If greedy wait, hot will cool" (Wait patiently and you will get what you want). "Tekking time ain't laziness" (Much can be achieved by taking one's time). "Wuh sweeten goat mouth does bun e tail" (What seems sweet and good at first can have negative or painful consequences).
  English Bajan
  Good morning   Mornin'
  How are you?   How you
  Swimming   'Sea-bath
  Confused   Cafuffled
  Dancing or having a good time   Doin' Dixie
  Showing off   Pompasettin'
  A gyrating, energetic dance   Wukkin' up