Edited by Cecelia Cutler, Zvjezdana Vrzić and Philipp Angermeyer
[Creole Language Library 53] 2017
► pp. 177–200
Race, class and language in Barbados
It is not uncommon to hear Barbadians speak of their existence in terms of the aphorism, “All O’ We Is One,” implying a shared culture and identity. However, this national discourse of oneness is oftentimes contradicted by the sociohistorical discourses and realities of racial separation. In this paper, I discuss divided racial and class boundaries from sociohistorical, demographic and contemporary perspectives on Barbados. I investigate how these perspectives factor into linguistic outcomes regarding the English-related creole, Bajan, in a post-colonial, racially mixed, working-class community. A quantitative sociolinguistic analysis of several morphosyntactic features, including present and past tense copula variability and tense/aspect marking, indicate that black and white populations, despite a perceived ideology of difference, speak the local vernacular in a typically creole manner. The notion of speaker identity and agency, advanced by Singler (2006, 2008) in theorizing creole genesis (cf. Baker 1995), underlies the arguments put forth in this paper.