its inhabitants having ancestors from Africa, India, Europe, China, Syria, Lebanonand many others.
This mixing of cultures has occurred due to European colonisation which put Trinidad and Tobago under the rule of three main entities, Spain, France and finally England Tobago was colonised by England, France, Holland, Latvia and Spain. When taking colonisation into consideration, one tends to think of our inheritance of possibly government structures, cultural practices and more. As a result
of being colonised by these lands, we sometimes take for granted the linguistic situation of the
twin-island state which has been influenced by Spanish, French and English, along with the languages of the enslaved Africans and Indian indentured labourers that lived under their rule.
These languages mixed together evidencing obvious input from the mother tongues of thecolonisers, along with the inclusion of words and modifications of English pronunciations by the Africans and Indians that were forced to learn the language in order to survive. As a result of the mixing of the previously mentioned languages, we now have what is called Trinidadian EnglishCreole which is a national vernacular of the official language, English, after leaving French,French Creole and Spanish behind. None of the previous languages, namely Spanish, French and even Hindi and Bhojpuri and some of the African languages brought here, remained a s a whole, except for Spanish and Bhojpuri to some extent and French Creole. Instead these languages stayed as mere snippets within the English Creole varieties spoken in the twin-island nation.
Everyday within our speech, we see where words from our ancestors have infiltrated our lexicon, with words such as “maljo” meaning bad eye, which comes from French Creole and ultimately the French words “mal” and "yeux' meaning the bad eye as well,
or expressions such as “it making hot” which is directly translated from the French and Spanish and French Creole syntactic formation of the expression meaning that the weather is hot, “il fait chaud”
or “hace calor” or “i ka fè cho”. Very important to note, is that some citizens of our country are not
aware that these expressions come from other languages. Many are ignorant of this as a consequence of not being bilingual themselves, and thus making the connections based on what they are being
taught at school.
Research done at the University of the West Indies has revealed that Mervyn C. Alleyne, a Trinbagonian linguist, refers to the Caribbean as a “linguistic graveyard” due to its official
intolerance of multilingualism (Ferreira 1). Although French and Spanish are taught in most
secondary schools around the twin-island state, they are not widely spoken as second and third
languages around the country. The teaching of these languages can facilitate late bilingualism,
where the individual learns a language later on in life, which is a good option, based on the fact
that not many children learn anything but Trinidadian or Tobagonian English Creole at home,
and many acquire English in schools. Due to the presence of this variety, there exists heavy
emphasis on improving the English of the citizens at educational institutions and less on foreign
Do you have in interest in learning a foreign language? Do you understand its importance or would
you like to? Let us know in the comments below!