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Speaking the Language

Antigua and Barbuda - Speaking the Language

The official language of Antigua and Barbuda is English, but as with most countries in the Caribbean, they have their own dialect. It is combined with the local slang and some African words and phrases. They also take little notice of the rules of English grammar and pronunciation. This Creole dialect is widely used among the local inhabitants, but it is not necessary for an English speaking person to learn it as you will be understood without, but after a lengthy stay in the country you will find you are familiar with the sound of it and will have picked up a few expressions.

The dialect has evolved since the early 1980s, when the country won independence from Britain. Prior to that Standard English was the norm, but the locals became more relaxed about adapting it to their own needs.

It is unlikely that a non-English speaking expat will get by without learning some of the language, particularly if they are moving to Antigua and Barbuda for work, though with a few classes and a little practice it is easy to pick up enough to hold a basic conversation.

You will also find that the dialect will vary slightly from area to area, though not so greatly that it will cause any problems in communication. The local accent in Antigua is different from that in Barbuda. English is used for all business, government business, teaching in schools and in hospitals, though the English used there is Standard English rather than the local dialect. There are also television channels, radio stations and newspapers which use Standard English.

Other languages that are used on a daily basis in the country include Spanish and languages which have been brought in by immigrants, such as French and other European languages, though the population is relatively small and these are not widely spoken. For those who do not have English as a first language or who wish to learn another language, there are specialist schools throughout the Caribbean which provide evening classes or intensive courses.

English is not a difficult language to learn and most people will be familiar with the sound of it as it is so widely used across the world. It depends on your own native language as to how easily you will pick up sentence structures and vocabulary. The use of the dialect on the island means that nobody will be too bothered if your grammar is not quite right.

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