African people who were captured and sold into slavery spoke a number of different languages belonging to the Niger-Congo family of languages from Western and Southern Africa. In the Caribbean, they were forced to learn the colonisers' European languages. Like the Amerindians, while their languages were lost, there are still words used in Caribbean English today that are similar to African words and expressions.

Indentured labourers from India and China also had some marginal impact. By the time they came to the Caribbean there were already stable language patterns, so their languages were absorbed. More importantly, these workers arrived into conditions quite different from those experienced by the African people–that is, they were free, not shackled in chains and sold. Consequently, the presence of indentured workers provided a zone between the White and Black peoples which led to the development of another class.

Word Meaning African Word African Country

duppy

nyam

obeah

susu

unu(unoo)

Jook

ghost

eat

magic

whisper, gossip

you (plural)

stab, jab, poke

dupe

unam

o-bayifo

susu

unu

jukka

Guinea

Nigeria

Ivory Coast, Ghana

Benin, Ghana, Togo

Nigeria

Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal



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