Open Access Articles- Top Results for Trinidadian Creole

Trinidadian Creole

Trinidadian Creole
Native to Trinidad
Native speakers
1 million  (2011)[1]
English Creole
  • Atlantic
    • Eastern
      • Southern
        • Trinidadian Creole
Language codes
ISO 639-3 trf
Glottolog trin1276[2]
Linguasphere 52-ABB-au
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Trinidadian Creole is a creole language commonly spoken throughout Trinidad. It is distinct from Tobagonian Creole – particularly at the basilectal level[3] – and from other Lesser Antillean English creoles.

English is the country's official language (the local standard variety is Trinidadian English), but the main spoken languages are Trinidadian Creole and Tobagonian Creole. Both creoles contain elements from a variety of African languages. Trinidadian Creole is also influenced by French and French creole (patois).[4]


Like other Caribbean English-based creoles, Trinidadian Creole has a primarily English-derived vocabulary. Although the island also had a creole with a largely French and Antillean creole lexicon until the nineteenth century, when it was gradually replaced, due to influence from the British.[5]

Other languages on the island, such as Spanish, a number of African languages, Chinese (mainly Cantonese, with some Hakka, and now Mandarin) and Bhojpuri (which acted as a lingua franca amongst Indian immigrants)[6] have also influenced the language.

Phonological features

Although there is considerable variation, some generalizations can be made about the speech of Trinidad:

  • Like a number of related creoles, Trinidadian Creole is non-rhotic, meaning that /r/ does not occur after vowels, except in recent loanwords or names from Spanish, Hindi/Bhojpuri, and Arabic.[7]
  • In mesolectal forms, cut, cot, caught, and curt are all pronounced with [ɒ].[8]
  • The dental fricatives of English are replaced with dental/alveolar stops.[9]


Both Trinidad and Tobago[10] feature creole continua between more conservative creole forms and forms much closer to Trinidadian English, with the former being more common in spontaneous speech and the latter in more formal speech.[11] Because of the social values attributed to linguistic forms, the more common varieties (that is, more creolized forms) carry little prestige.[12]

Example words and phrases

  • back chat: insolence.[13]
  • bad-john: a bully or gangster.[13]
  • chinksin: miserly; distributing less than one could or should.[14]
  • calypso: a musical or lyrical comment on something, particularly popular during Carnival.[13]
  • dougla: a person having both East Indian and African parentage.[13]
  • maco: someone who gets into other people's business.[13]
  • maljo: an evil spell of misfortune cast out of envy.[14]
  • pothound: a mongrel dog of no specific breed; mutt.[14]
  • tabanca: heartbreak.[13]
  • ups kabat: a type of game played with marbles.[15]

See also


  1. ^ Trinidadian Creole at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Trinidadian Creole English". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Youssef & James (2004:508, 514)
  4. ^ Jo-Anne Sharon Ferreira. (A Brief Overview of) The Sociolinguistic History of Trinidad & Tobago. University of the West Indies.
  5. ^ Youssef & James (2004:510–511)
  6. ^ Youssef & James (2004:511)
  7. ^ Amastae (1979:191)
  8. ^ Youssef & James (2004:516)
  9. ^ Youssef & James (2004:517)
  10. ^ Minderhout (1977:168–169)
  11. ^ Winford (1985:352–353)
  12. ^ Winford (1985:353)
  13. ^ a b c d e f dictionary of terms for Trinidad and Tobago
  14. ^ a b c dictionary of the West Indies
  15. ^ Winer & Boos (1993:46)


  • Amastae, Jon (1979), "Dominican English Creole phonology: An initial sketch", Anthropological Linguistics 21 (4): 182–204 
  • Minderhout, David J. (1977), "Language variation in Tobagonian English", Anthropological Linguistics 19 (4): 167–179 
  • Winer, Lise; Boos, Hans E.A. (1993), "Right throughs, rings and taws: Marbles terminology in Trinidad and Tobago", Language in Society 22 (1): 41–66, doi:10.1017/s0047404500016912 
  • Winford, Donald (1985), "The concept of "diglossia" in Caribbean creole situations", Language in Society 14 (3): 345–356, doi:10.1017/s0047404500011301 
  • Youssef, Winford; James (2004), "The creoles of Trinidad and Tobago: Phonology", in Kortmann, Bernd; Schneider, Edgar W.; Burridge, Kate; Mesthrie, Rajend; Upton, Clive, Handbook of Varieties of English (PDF), 1: Phonology, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3-11-017532-5 

Further reading

  • Allsopp, Richard & Jeannette Allsopp (French and Spanish Supplement), 2003, Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Kingston: University of the West Indies Press.
  • Allsopp, Richard, & Jeannette Allsopp 2010, New Register of Caribbean English Usage. Kingston: University of the West Indies Press.
  • James, Winford 2002, A Different, not an Incorrect, Way of Speaking, Pt 1
  • Winer, Lise 2009, Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago: On Historical Principles. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.