When we hear the word English, we naturally think of the language spoken by those living in the United Kingdom or of the people living in England. We also often think of their language as the international language, the one spoken as a native language in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, countries which have had a close association with England for centuries. However, English is spoken as a native or second language in a large number of other countries which were once colonies of the British Empire.
Latin America, including Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America, is often thought of as a linguistically homogenous area of Latinate languages (those languages like French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish which originated from Latin). This is generally true, as the vast majority of peoples there speak Spanish or Portuguese as their mother tongue. However, a number of small Caribbean island nations were also once part of the British Empire; accordingly, their citizens even after independence speak English. These nations include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Barbados, and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Do the Caribbean English speakers speak British English? Not exactly. All over the world where English has been spoken for hundreds of years by speakers of other languages, certain special accents or dialects have arisen. India is famous for "Indian English"; "Irish English" is unmistakable, too. Likewise, Caribbean English has its own special patterns, vocabulary, and even grammatical forms different from the standard RP (received pronunciation, also referred to as Received Standard) of British English. These special features include a lilt or "sing-song" sound to the language, and plenty of local slang.
As only a relatively few people live on these islands, how can we hear their special dialect or accent? One kind of pop music called reggae is the easiest way outside of befriending someone from these nations. Reggae music has been popular since the 1980s, when performers like Bob Marley of Jamaica pleasantly surprised the world with their own original reggae music as well as their interpretations of other well-known pop Anglo music. Reggae is famous for its strong, often syncopated beat, laid-back singing style, and, of course, the "island" dialect. Another perennial music favorite is calypso, which is also sung in the Caribbean island English dialect. The hit song "Yes, We Have No Bananas," is reminiscent of this drum-heavy musical style, especially from Trinidad and Tobago.
Given the islands' historic ties to both the United Kingdom and the United States, it is little wonder that today the peoples of these small nations continue to use English in government, academia, business, and trade. Local languages still exist alongside the Caribbean English dialect, too, but they are mostly the patois of the marketplace and home. Many of the residents of this area, also referred to as the West Indies or the Antilles, have emigrated to the U.K. or the U.S. and, because of their linguistic prowess, have done relatively well as so-called "third world" immigrants. A few writers of contemporary renown also hail from this area, as do some sports figures.
If you plan to visit any of the above-mentioned islands for any purpose, do not worry about your language skills. Caribbean peoples are well-known for their friendly, patient dispositions. After a few days, your ear will become attuned to the lilting cadence of the lovely Caribbean English dialects, and your stay in this tropical paradise will be all the more rewarding.
我们听到 English 这个字时，自然而然会想到那是住在英国的人或是那些居住在英格兰的人所讲的语言。我们也时常视他们的语言为国际语言，几世纪以来它在和英国有密切关联的国家如爱尔兰、美国、加拿大、澳洲和新西兰等国中被当作本国语使用。然而，英语在其它许多曾经是大英帝国殖民地的国家中也被当作本国语或第二语言使用。