Vol. 36:2 (2021) ► pp.362–394
‘Broken English’, ‘dialect’ or ‘Bahamianese’?
Language attitudes and identity in The Bahamas
The study investigates language attitudes in The Bahamas, addressing the current status of the local creole in society as well as attitudinal indicators of endonormative reorientation and stabilization. At the heart of the study is a verbal guise test which investigates covert language attitudes among educated Bahamians, mostly current and former university students; this was supplemented by a selection of acceptance rating scales and other direct question formats. The research instrument was specifically designed to look into the complex relationships between Bahamian Creole and local as well as non-local accents of standard English and to test associated solidarity and status effects in informal settings. The results show that the situation in The Bahamas mirrors what is found for other creole-speaking Caribbean countries in that the local vernacular continues to be ‘the language of solidarity, national identity, emotion and humour, and Standard the language of education, religion, and officialdom’ (Youssef 2004: 44). Notably, the study also finds that standard Bahamian English outranks the other metropolitan standards with regard to status traits, suggesting an increase in endonormativity.
- 2.1Previous research into language attitudes in the Caribbean
- 2.2Sociolinguistic situation of The Bahamas
- 4.1The verbal guise test: Covert attitudes
- 4.2Creole use and acceptance: Overt attitudes