The native language of the Barbados people is English. Yet, if one were to travel across Barbados one would quickly notice something more prevalent among the people – our own rhyme and rhythm. Bajan as we call it, is considered a dialect and not an official language.
Bajan dialect, like other nonstandard language varieties in the Caribbean – and across the world – does not have the standardized written code, yet is it as rich and vibrant as the languages that we consider “official”.
To an unfamiliar ear, however, Bajan will almost certainly sound like a completely different language. Most Caribbean accents can sound really similar, but a few stand apart. The Bajan accent is one of them – it is a little less melodic and more on the percussive side – like drums.
It’s proven quite challenging for people of other nationalities to successfully imitate our speech unless they have been thoroughly marinated in it – and sometimes not even then.
Bajanisms is the term given to the unique elements of our dialect, as well as our embodiment of what it means to be Bajan. Let’s see how much you know!
Mahalia writes songs. In fact, she's an award winning songwriter and choreographer, dancer, plant mom and at-home visual artist. She is best known for her effortless and electrifying performances as lead vocalist of the stand-out Bajan band, 2 Mile Hill who have flown the Barbadian flag at shows across the Caribbean, US and Europe. She is also celebrated for her captivating presence as host and founder of Barbados' biggest acoustic, talent festival, Mahalia's Corner. She's an all-round creative, and a quintessential Bajan, and she will never pass up the chance to say "Cheese on bread!" for anyone who may ask to hear her accent.