Monthly Archives: March 2018

An Introduction to Guyanese Creole-Francesca

Guyana formerly known as British Guiana obtained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1966; it became a republic in 1970. The Republic of Guyana is North-East of South America. It is bordered by Suriname, Brazil and Venezuela. Guiana was originally inhabited by the Arawaks and Caribs. It was divided by European powers into Spanish Guiana (Venezuela), Portuguese Guiana (Brazil), French Guiana, Dutch Guiana (Suriname) and British Guiana (Guyana). Guyanese Creole is the de facto language in Guyana, with about 700,000 inhabitants speaking it according to the 2012 census. Guyanese Creole is an English based creole widely spoken by people who are natives of Guyana. Although many people speak Guyanese Creole, the official language of Guyana is English. Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America. There are many sub-dialects of Guyanese Creole which exists based on a native’s geographical location, race and ethnicity. People in Guyana also speak Hindi, Urdu and Amerindian languages. Some of the most common dialects of Guyana include Afro-Guyanese Creole, Rupununi, and Indo-Guyanese Creole. According to the Guyana chronicle, along the Rupununi River where the population is largely Amerindian, a distinct form of Guyanese Creole exists. Rupununi dialect is said to be its own separate language. The capital city of Guyana is Georgetown. The dialect/accent changes where rural villages are located. The language traces back from the first African slaves who were brought to Guyana from different tribes. After contact with their slave masters they developed a pidgin to communicate with each other. When they arrived in Guyana they added words and expressions from their Dutch masters and over time this “Dutch-creole went through changes. A creole continuum exists between Guyanese English and Standard British English. Members of the upper class’s speech tend to phonetically be closest to the “Queen’s English”, whereas people who are from lower socioeconomic background their speech are closest to Caribbean English dialects. In Guyanese Creole, adjectives and adverbs are repeated for emphasis. There are many large parts of Guyana that are Forested Highland Region in the southern part of the country. Ninety percent of the inhabitants of Guyana live in the narrow, fertile plain along the Atlantic coast to the east of the country.


“The rich cultural expression of Guyanese Creolese” Guyana Chronicle. Retrieved March 07, 2018 from

“Guyana” The Commonwealth Heads of Government. Retrieved March 06, 2018 from

“Guyana” One World Nations Online. Retrieved March 05, 2018 from

“Guyanese Creole English” Ethnologue languages of the world. Retrieved March 05, 2018 from

Guyanese Creole in Social context, Literature, and Music

Social Context
Like in most cultures the social context of a conversation includes code switching. Depending on who you are speaking to will determine how the conversation will flow. For example, a woman on the Steve Harvey show exemplified code switching while having a conversation with her boyfriend. She expresses that she speaks English; however, when she becomes upset or angry her Guyanese patois comes out. This shows that the social context of the Guyanese language does not differ from most. When speaking with someone who is not familiar with the Guyanese dialect one would speak proper English. Nevertheless, once you are in a social gathering amongst family or friends an individual gravitates to speaking patois. As for the news media the language is usually always in English. According to the website, Kaiuterness, caters to Guyanese news, the print and news audio is written in standard English.

History of Guyanese Literature
According to the article, Indian Ancestry, written by Petamber Persuad, provides details on the beginning of Guyanese Literature. Persuad states, the first writings on Guyana were published by European explores and colonizers. Their writings extends up to the 20th century. As for the very first Guyanese of Indian Ancestry, the writings of Peter Kempadoo wrote the book, Guiana boy ,which was self published in 1960. Being that the European colonizers stole the shine of the Indian Ancestries made it difficult to create a platform for themselves. However, in 1960 Persaud states that soon comes to an end by “the emergence of women writing and a heightened period for Guyanese literature”(Persuad 3). This promotes Guyanese Ancestry to have a platform and ultimately a voice.

As for the music aspect of the Guyanese creole, nearly all songs are spoken with Guyanese patois. It is rare to come across a Guyanese song spoken in only standard English. Soca being one of the few genres in the Guyanese culture mainly uses Guyanese creole. The following is a link to the song “March out” by Jumo Primo that exemplifies Guyanese creole:

Within the song you will find the dialect to favor Guyanese creole. For example he states “gal” “meh” and “vybez”. This shows that in Guyanese music artists tend to shift towards Guyanese creole. Below you will find a poem entitled “The Cane-cutter” written by Ruel Johnson that typifies the same notion.

Fo-day manin -cack a crow
And he know he gat to go
And all he gat is e sharp twenty-two
And e food-carrier so shiny and new
Today is had wok this whole munth
Today we gat to full all dem punt
At break-time me tek a lil smoke
And Kadwah guh crak a joke
And then the dam lead- han’
Playing lek some white man
Sometimes behave like a real jerk
Come and chase us back to work
Buddy-by how me bones ah ache Oh Gad!
If when Haray Ram tek me now, me glad
Only Ram keep me going as I chant me bhajan
Today, I hope me wife cook hassar and sigan
The cane-cutter tek his roti from he carrier-dish
He is thinking of his last daughter’s only wish
To save ebry las cent of he salary
To pay for her damn big dowry
Po gyal na know fuh wat in store
But agat to let me baby go fuh sure
Oh Gad! Now I can hardly bend
When does all dis hadship end
The cane cutter goes home at sunset
Gat to hurry so he wifey don’t fret
Still gat sum tumatee to plant
So tired no matta how he cant
Fatnight coming and its pay day
Gat to tek a lil finey this Friday
Shoot some crap wid Kak, Bud and Lulluby
And Pum-pak to dance wen he get lil groggy
Betta read yuh book get some larning
You can’t last wid this cane cutting
You cut, fetch and full punt in de sun or rain
Come Munday and it’s back to cutting cane
Pickney ah tell yuh dis life is haad
Dis is nat cricket or playing cyad
Yuh wuk till yuh get haad calluses all ova
And de bakrah neva say thanks, son-of-a
The cane-cutter is one of those dying breed
These pioneers‘ve fused the Guyanese seed
Metal intact, they raked and did scrape
And eventually changed the landscape


Guyanese on Steve Harvey show:
Persuad, Petamber “Indian ancestry Guyana Chronicle”. Since 2008

Guyanese Creole Feature of Linguistics

What is Guyanese Creole? When asked for an answer to this question many would go as far as to say something similar to “isn’t it something like English but with a broken accent?” However, here on this site we will dive a little deeper and reveal a little truth behind everything “Guyanese.” For one little fact even though most of the words in Guyanese come from British English (known as the ‘lexifier’ language for its contribution to the vocabulary), it also contains influences from languages such as Dutch, West African, Arawakan, and other Caribbean languages. There are still many other languages spoken throughout the country of Guyana. Some languages known to be spoken throughout Guyana beside the English-lexified Guyanese Creole are Hindi, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, and Aboriginal languages. Another interesting fact is that Guyanese creole is not even called GC by its native speakers. Within the country of Guyana, the natives refer to it as Creolese. Guyana’s population is about 758,000 people, and within that number there are many dialects and varieties of Creolese. When learning about Guyanese Creole or Creolese you will encounter what is called the Creole Continuum. Creole Continuums are used to describe the multiple varieties of Creolese: Acrolect, Mesolect, and Basilect. When speaking Creolese the Acrolect variety is usually used by the speakers of the upper class, the middle class using Mesolect., and lastly Basilect is often heard being spoken by the laborer’s in the rural population, although many people have ranges along the continuum and style-shift according to the situation and context.

Level of speech Utterance
5: Acrolect I told him.
4: I tool im.
3: Mesolects A tel im.
2: Mi tel i.
1: Basilect Mi tel am.

Also, a closer look under the language magnifying glass will reveal lexicon, syntax, and phonology also plays a big part in the formation of Creolese.

Phonology: A linguistic study done by Hubert Devonish and Dahlia Thompson (2010) entitled “A concise Grammar of Guyanese Creole (Creolese)” included a set of ten vowels and two diphthongs.

A listing of vowels and consonants in Guyanese creole

(From Holbrook & Holbrook 2001:

SAE Utterance GC Transcription
the dark /di dak/
tasty thigh



/testi tai/




The dental Fricative in Standard American English and the /d/ in GC is pronounced the same. He voiceless dental fricative is pronounced T in GC. There are also occurrences when /t/ changes to the voiceless palatal affricative /ch/ and the notable distinction of the deletion of /r/ in dark within GC, similar to the deletion in many non- standard English dialects. Syntax: Simplification of GC is also present in the syntax. Many aspects of syntax that distinguish lexical ambiguities in SAE are absent in GC. Some of these elements include conjugation between verb tenses and pluralization. In SAE, we use verb conjugations to help further clarify the subject performing the verb (for example: he eat, I eat, and he does, I do). In GC, these distinctions may not be affected by the subject, but by other helping words (Alex M. Balogblin (2011)).

Syntax — Noteworthy sentences

I told him – ‘Mi tel am’

He hit it – ‘i It i/am’

She’s going to the church- ‘Shi gain ah de chuch’ or ‘Shi ah go ah de chuch’

She went to the church – ‘Shi gon/gwan ah de chuch’

She will go to church – ’Shi guh go/gwan ah de chuch’

They don’t want to tell them – ‘Dem nuh wan (fi) tell dem’

She wants to tell her – ’Shi wan (fi) tell er/shi’

The lexicology of Guyanese Creole consists of many words & phrases unique to it, and although hundreds of nouns and necessary labels of an “ Active” ecology have came through Guyana from the languages of  identified ethic groups (two Arawakan, six Caribbean, and one Warrau) the Guyanese vocabulary consists of hundreds of every day words known to Guyanese but not other Caribbean (1996xli) (David J. Holbrook and Holly A. Holbrook, 2001).

A go do it- Meaning “I will do it”

Dem a waan sting yu waan bil-literally-they want to string your one bill- Meaning-“they usually want to take money from you

Suurin- a form of courtship (from suitoring, the result of adapting the noun suitor for use as a verb

Holbrook, David J. and Holly A. Holbrook , Guyanese Creole survey report , 2002 , SIL Electronic Survey Reports , Language Assessment, Sociolinguistics