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Languages in Virgin Islands, British




The British Virgin Islanders speak English, the English-based Virgin Islands Creole, and Spanish, with English as the national and official language. As an official language, English is used in the government, education and the media, such as print and broadcast, and in business transactions and tourist centers. The Virgin Islands Creole, though spoken in the territory, is almost similar to, but should not be confused with Negerhollands, a Dutch-based Creole spoken in the US Virgin Islands, as it is continuously changing due to its use of slang terms and idioms.

The VI Creole can never be learned as a standard language because, according to local authorities, many of its words and expressions are known only to the older population of the islands. Furthermore, the Creole language has a smaller set of pronouns than English; has no letter “s” in the plural, possessive case and the 3rd person present tense; and the “th” sound is omitted in speech and replaced by the “t” sound. The Creole pronunciation varies largely from the standard English like the “er” which is pronounced “ae” in Creole; the computer as “compu-tae,” never as “nevae,” and come here as “come ya” or “come heh.” The Creole language was developed by the enslaved Africans working on sugar plantations in Tortola and Virgin Gorda in 1672 to become as the Virgin Islands Creole spoken in both the British and US Virgin Islands despite being an unwritten language and therefore, with no standard spelling. Local authors who try to write in the language use English orthography or its proper letters according to standard usage. The use, therefore, of English as official language and the increasing number of white expatriate population now makes little need for teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) in the British territory.

 
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