African Bermudian English and the Caribbean connection
Bermudian English (BerE) is one of the least documented varieties of English that has undergone full nativisation. The only source we are aware of is Ayres (1933), who provides an overview of some selected phonological features. The present paper has two aims: first, to provide a preliminary morphosyntactic profile of African Bermudian English (ABerE) and to anchor this variety in the quickly emerging canon of lesser-known varieties of English around the world (Schreier et al. 2010), and second, to gain some first typological insights whether or not it aligns with English in the Caribbean (and if so, with which varieties), as has been claimed by some sources (e.g. Trudgill 2002). With this aim, we report some first findings from a fieldwork study on the island and in a later step compare these with selected Caribbean varieties — Bahamian English (BahE), Bajan, Jamaican English, and Vincentian Creole, as reported in the Electronic World Atlas of Varieties of English (Kortmann and Lunkenheimer 2011). We argue that morphosyntactic similarities and differences between the varieties are explained by the Bermudian community’s sociohistorical and sociolinguistic contexts, including settlement patterns, population demographics, and peopling, and that the emergence and origins of a stable localised variety of (A)BerE need to be approached with reference to the historical connections between Bermuda and the communities that provided donor varieties. We further argue in favor of a two-way transfer pattern: Caribbean Englishes are likely to have influenced the evolution of English on Bermuda, while BerE itself was an influential input variety in other locations (particularly the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands).
Keywords: morphosyntax, Bermuda, (African) Bermudian English, the Caribbean, Caribbean Englishes, typological relationships, contact linguistics, lesser-known varieties of English (LKVEs)
Published online: 11 October 2013
Cited by 5 other publications
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