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What is Guyanese Creolese?

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Published: 6th of January, 2023 by Patrick Carpen

Last updated: April 30, 2023 at 18:50 pm

The Creolese Language is a form of substandard English spoken by people across the Caribbean in countries that were once colonized by the British Empire and which share a similar history. Guyanese Creolese is a Creolese dialect unique to Guyana and different from other variations of Creolese that are spoken in other Caribbean countries such as Trinidad and Jamaica.

To understand how the Creolese Language was born, we need to understand the history of the European colonists, the African slaves, indentured East Indians, Portuguese, Chinese, and indigenous peoples of Guyana. Each one came with their unique mother tongue. The Creolese Language was born when Africans, East Indians, Portuguese, Chinese, and Indigenous peoples tried to learn and speak English with only limited success.

When African slaves were brought from Africa, they tried to learn English but only achieved limited success. Their version of English was filled with mispronounced words, poor grammar, and fused somewhat with the accent and influence of their original African mother tongue. The same thing happened with the East Indians, and consequently, the Creolese dialect spoken by Guyanese of East Indian descent is different from that of the Africans, but both groups can understand each other’s version of Creolese clearly. The Chinese, Portuguese, and indigenous peoples had a similar result when trying to learn English, resulting in Creolese dialects that were slightly different between each group.

As time went on, intermingling between the East Indians, Africans, Chinese, Portuguese, and Indigenous peoples gave rise to even further variations of Guyanese Creolese.

Here are some examples of Creolese expressions you might hear in a predominantly East Indian community:

Wah yuh doh? = What are you doing?

How yuh deh? = How are you doing?

Weh yuh goh? = Where are you going?

Here are some examples of Creolese expressions you might hear in a predominantly African community:

Wah yuh doin? = What are you doing?

How yuh doin?= How are you doing?

Way yuh goin? = Where are you going?

Although standard English is taught in schools across Guyana, some form of the Creolese dialect is spoken most of the time when Guyanese talk to each other. Most Guyanese can readily switch to standard English when they are talking to a foreigner.

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