What Languages Are Spoken In Saint Kitts and Nevis?

A black sand beach in Saint Kitts.
A black sand beach in Saint Kitts.

Saint Kitts and Nevis has an estimated population of 54,961, and it lies in the Caribbean. The country's territory includes two islands, the largest of which is Saint Kitts. 75% of the inhabitants of St Kitts and Nevis have African ancestry while 12% are Afro-European and 5.3% are mixed race. The Afro-East Indian and East Indian community make up about 5% of the country's population, and there is a South Asian community which accounts for 3% of the population.

Official Language Of Saint Kitts And Nevis

Saint Kitts and Nevis has English as both its national and official language. The islands were governed by the British until 1983 and English is therefore a colonial legacy in the nation. However, the accent used in the islands features a profound West Indian inflection. The islands boast a literacy rate of more than 98%, and thus most of the residents can express themselves fluently in the language. The use of English in the country makes it easy for tourists who go to explore its breathtaking natural scenery and engage in its numerous festivals.

Saint Kitts Creole

Saint Kitts Creole is spoken in the country as a Caribbean Creole based in English. An estimated 40,000 people speak the creole, but it is not recognized officially in Saint Kitts and Nevis. The Creole's history can be traced back to the 17th century when West African slaves were transported to the islands to be engaged in sugar plantations. The slaves had to learn British English fast, and they included West African phrases and even West African language structure. The impact of the French, who governed the region from 1625 to 1713, on the Creole was little. The inhabitants of Nevis call the language "Nevis Creole." The Creole is especially popular in the rural areas, and it has a large presence in Cayon, Capesterre, and Christ Church Nichola Town. Today's use of the language features a larger incorporation of Standard English probably because of access to foreign media. Jamaican music and culture have also influenced the creole. Saint Kitts pronunciation bears similarities with the pronunciation heard in the neighboring islands of Montserrat and Antigua, and the existing slight differences can mostly be noted by inhabitants of the Leeward Islands.

American Sign Language

The deaf community in Saint Kitts and Nevis use the American Sign Language. ASL is closely linked to the French Sign Language (LSF), and it has been suggested that ASL is a creole language of LSF although ASL includes characteristics not normally observed in creole languages including agglutinative morphology. ASL has its origin in the American School for the Deaf located in Hartford, Connecticut from where it developed facilitated by language contact in 1817. The use of ASL has spread extensively through schools for the deaf as well as Deaf community organizations. ASL signs feature several phonemic components including movements of the hand, torso, and hands. ASL grammar has no relation to that of English although ASL often includes English loan words through fingerspelling. The country's government has implemented an all-inclusive policy which has seen events such as the reading of budget include a sign language interpreter.


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