List of dialects of English

The following is a list of dialects of English. Dialects are linguistic varieties which may differ in pronunciation, vocabulary, spelling and grammar. For the classification of varieties of English in terms of pronunciation only, see Regional accents of English.

Dialects can be defined as "sub-forms of languages which are, in general, mutually comprehensible."[1] English speakers from different countries and regions use a variety of different accents (systems of pronunciation), as well as various localized words and grammatical constructions; many different dialects can be identified based on these factors. Dialects can be classified at broader or narrower levels: within a broad national or regional dialect, various more localized sub-dialects can be identified, and so on. The combination of differences in pronunciation and use of local words may make some English dialects almost unintelligible to speakers from other regions.

The major native dialects of English are often divided by linguists into three general categories: the British Isles dialects, those of North America, and those of Australasia.[2] Dialects can be associated not only with place, but also with particular social groups. Within a given English-speaking country, there will often be a form of the language considered to be Standard English – the Standard Englishes of different countries differ, and each can itself be considered a dialect. Standard English is often associated with the more educated layers of society, as well as more formal registers.

British and American English are the reference norms for English as spoken, written, and taught in the rest of the world, excluding countries where English is spoken natively such as Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand. In many former British Empire countries where English is not spoken natively, British English forms are closely followed, alongside numerous AmE usages which have become widespread throughout the English-speaking world. Conversely, in many countries historically influenced by the United States where English is not spoken natively, American English forms are closely followed. Many of these countries, while retaining strong BrE or AmE influences, have developed their own unique dialects, which include Indian English and Philippine English.

Chief among other native English dialects are Canadian English and Australian English, which rank third and fourth in the number of native speakers. For the most part, Canadian English, while featuring numerous British forms alongside indigenous Canadianisms, shares vocabulary, phonology and syntax with American English, leading many to recognize North American English as an organic grouping of dialects.[3] Australian English likewise shares many American and British English usages alongside plentiful features unique to Australia, and retains a significantly higher degree of distinctiveness from both the larger varieties than does Canadian English. South African English, New Zealand English and the Hiberno-English of Ireland are also distinctive and rank fifth, sixth and seventh in the number of native speakers.




English language in England:



Isle of Man

Channel Islands



North America

North American English

United States

American English:


Canadian English:


Caribbean, Central, and South America



The Bahamas




Falkland Islands




Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

  • Vincentian English

Trinidad and Tobago





Hong Kong


Indian English:






Sri Lanka









South Africa

South Atlantic

South Sudan





Australian English (AusE, AusEng):

New Zealand

New Zealand English (NZE, en-NZ)


Pidgins and creoles exist which are based on, or incorporate, English, including Chinook Jargon (a mostly extinct trade language), American Indian Pidgin English, and Manglish (Malaysian English-Malay-Chinese-Tamil).

A pan-Asian English variation called Globalese has been described.[9]


Several constructed languages exist based on English, which have never been adopted as a vernacular. Language scholars have stated that constructed languages are "no longer of practical use" with English as a de facto global language.[10]

Manual encodings

These encoding systems should not be confused with sign languages such as British Sign Language and American Sign Language, which, while they are informed by English, have their own grammar and vocabulary.


The following are portmanteaus devised to describe certain local varieties of English and other linguistic phenomena involving English. Although similarly named, they are actually quite different in nature, with some being genuine mixed languages, some being instances of heavy code-switching between English and another language, some being genuine local dialects of English used by first-language English speakers, and some being non-native pronunciations of English. A few portmanteaus (such as Greeklish and Fingilish) are transliteration methods rather than any kind of spoken variant of English.

See also


  1. ^ Wakelin, Martyn Francis (2008). Discovering English Dialects. Oxford: Shire Publications. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-7478-0176-4.
  2. ^ Crystal, David. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, Cambridge University Press, 2003
  3. ^ Trudgill and Hannah, 2002
  4. ^ JC Wells, Accents of English, Cambridge University Press, 1983, page 351
  5. ^ A.J. Aitken in The Oxford Companion to the English Language, Oxford University Press 1992. p.894
  6. ^ a b Hickey, Raymond (2005). Dublin English: Evolution and Change. John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 196–198. ISBN 90-272-4895-8.
  7. ^ Hickey, Raymond (2002). A Source Book for Irish English (PDF). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 28–29. ISBN 90-272-3753-0. ISBN 1-58811-209-8 (US)
  8. ^ Daniel Schreier, Peter Trudgill. The Lesser-Known Varieties of English: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press, Mar 4, 2010 pg. 10
  9. ^ Nunan 2012, p. 186.
  10. ^ Fischer 2004, p. 181 "[T]he goal [of constructed languages] is no longer of practical use... Living languages are of far greater influence in the world ... world languages are emerging naturally for the first time in history. Indeed, the English language -- by historical circumstance, not by design -- presently counts more second-language speakers than any other tongue on Earth and numbers are growing."

Further reading

External links

Anguillian Creole

Anguillan Creole is a dialect of Leeward Caribbean Creole English spoken in Anguilla, an island and British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean. Although classified as a dialect of Leeward Caribbean Creole English spoken in Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Montserrat due to a common British colonial history, it is actually closer to the British Virgin Islands and Saint Martin varieties of Virgin Islands Creole. The number of speakers of Anguillan Creole is below 10,000. Anguillan Creole does not have the status of an official language.

Bahamian English

Bahamian English is a variety of English spoken in the Bahamas and by Bahamian diasporas. The standard for official use and education is British-based.

Bay Islands English

Bay Islands English is an English variety spoken on the Bay Islands Department (Guanaja, Roatán, Utila), Honduras. 22,500 native speakers (Caracoles) were reported in 2001. Mainlanders know this language as Caracol, which literally means "conch". Genetically this variety descends from Cayman Islands English.

Bermudian English

Bermudian English is a regional accent of English found in Bermuda, a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic. Standard English is used in professional settings and in writing, while vernacular Bermudian English is spoken on more casual occasions. The Bermudian accent began to develop following settlement in the early 17th century, and retains traits of Elizabethan English.Casual observers tend to have difficulty in placing the Bermudian accent, as it differs from those that are clearly British, American or Caribbean; they also note that the accent tends to vary between individuals. To Americans, it sounds slightly British, while the British find it more American.

Cameroonian English

Cameroon English is an English dialect spoken predominantly in Cameroon, mostly learned as a second language. It shares some similarities with English varieties in neighbouring West Africa, as Cameroon lies at the west of Central Africa.It is a postcolonial variety of English, long in use in the territory (Southern Cameroons, now the northwest of the republic). Over the years, it has developed characteristic features, particularly in lexis but also in phonology and grammar. Those characteristics were once regarded as errors but are now increasingly accepted as distinctive Cameroonian contributions to the English language.

Caribbean English

Caribbean English dialects of the English language are spoken in the Caribbean and Liberia, most countries on the Caribbean coast of Central America, and Guyana and Suriname on the coast of South America. Caribbean English is influenced by the English-based Creole varieties spoken in the region, but they are not the same. In the Caribbean, there is a great deal of variation in the way English is spoken. Scholars generally agree that although the dialects themselves vary significantly in each of these countries, they primarily have roots in British English and West African languages. Caribbean English in countries with a majority Indian population like Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana has been influenced by Hindustani and other South Asian languages in addition to British English and West African languages.

English in Barbados

Barbadian English or Bajan English is a dialect of the English language as used by Barbadians (Bajans) and by Barbadian diasporas. It should not be confused with Bajan Creole, which is an English-based creole language.

Ghanaian English

Ghanaian English is a variety of English spoken in Ghana. English is the official language of Ghana, and is used as a lingua franca throughout the state. English is the most used of the 11 official languages spoken in Ghana.

Guyanese Creole

Guyanese Creole (Creolese by its speakers, or simply Guyanese) is an English-based creole language spoken by people in Guyana. Linguistically, it is similar to other English dialects of the Caribbean region, based on 19th-century English, and has loan words from African, East Indian, Arawakan, and older Dutch languages.

Kenyan English

Kenyan English is a local dialect of the English language spoken by several communities and individuals in Kenya, and among some Kenyan expatriates in other countries. The dialect contains features unique to it that were derived from local Bantu languages, such as Swahili.

Liberian English

Liberian English refers to the varieties of English spoken in Liberia. There are five such varieties:

Standard Liberian English or Liberian Settler English (similar to American English)

Kru Pidgin English

Liberian Kreyol language (Vernacular Liberian English) from African American Vernacular English

Merico language (Americo-Liberian settlers from the United States of America)

Caribbean English (ex-Caribbean slaves settlers from the Caribbean islands)Normally, Liberians use these terms to refer to all such varieties simply as "English". Additionally, the term "Liberian English" is sometimes used for all varieties except the standard.

Malawian English

Malawian English is the English language as spoken in Malawi. English is the country's official language.

English was introduced into Malawi towards the end of the 19th century, due to the influence of British explorers, missionaries, the arrival of the African Lakes Corporation, and colonial administrators present since the establishment in the 1890s of the British Central Africa Protectorate. The seventy years of British colonial rule that followed the Scramble for Africa, set the groundwork for English to grow into the area's dominant and most socially prestigious language.

Since Malawian independence, the dominance of English has continued:

official government records are written in English,

parliament conducts its deliberations in English,

the laws of Malawi are written in English,

progression into secondary and higher education requires certification of competence in English,

nearly all Malawian newspapers are published in English (though some include small Chichewa supplements),

English remains the language of commerce in the country.This remains true despite a large majority of Malawians speaking Chichewa and the small number of English speakers outside urban centres. Also, in Malawian government schools, students are taught in Chichewa, and learn English as a second language from about age 10. But in international schools in Malawi (like Saint Andrew's International High School in Blantyre) which follow the British curriculum, English is the language students are taught in, and do not learn Chichewa at all, as it is regarded as a local language.

English words are even replacing their equivalents in other Malawi languages. One study of a corpus of Chichewa discourse captured over a ten-year period found that references to numbers greater than 3 were exclusively in English, at least in urban areas.Malawian English has a slight tinge of non-linguistic expressions that are still used, such as "eesh!", an exclamation meaning "oh my!"

Myanmar English

Myanmar English is the register of the English language used in Myanmar, spoken as first or second language by an estimated 2.4 million people, about 5% of the population (1997).


Namlish (a portmanteau of the words Namibian and English) is a form of English spoken in Namibia. English is the country's official language since independence in 1990. Because it is the second or third language for the majority of the Namibians, local usage can vary significantly from usage elsewhere in the English-speaking world. Namibian English, or Namlish, shares many similarities with South African English, having been influenced both by Afrikaans and indigenous African languages.

Nepalese English

Nepalese English is the register of English language characteristic of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Many Nepalis speak English as a second or foreign language, with English use being most prevalent among city dwellers residing in Kathmandu (the capital of Nepal). Although Nepali is the native language, English is the primary language used for business in Nepal. In Nepal, where modern English education began in the 1850s, there is little or no consensus among teachers and practitioners on whether to follow British, American or Indian variants of English, or allow the development of a Nepal-specific variety of English, known colloquially as Nenglish.

San Andrés–Providencia Creole

San Andrés–Providencia creole is an English-based creole language spoken in the San Andrés and Providencia Department of Colombia by the native Raizals, very similar to Belize Kriol and Miskito Coastal Creole. Its vocabulary originates in English, but it has its own phonetics and many expressions from Spanish and African languages, particularly Kwa languages (especially Twi and Ewe) and Igbo languages. The language is also known as "San Andrés Creole", "Bende" and "Islander Creole English".

South African English

South African English (SAfrE, SAfrEng, SAE, en-ZA) is the set of English dialects native to South Africans.

South Atlantic English

South Atlantic English is a variety of the English language which is spoken on islands in the Southern hemisphere. South Atlantic English is spoken on Tristan da Cunha and Saint Helena, but its spread on other islands is unknown. An intelligibility with British English, a linguistic variety of the same country, exists. The numbers of speakers of South Atlantic English is less than 10,000. South Atlantic English does not have official status anywhere.

Trinidadian and Tobagonian English

Trinidadian English (TE) or Trinidad and Tobago Standard English is a dialect of English used in Trinidad and Tobago. TE co-exists with both non-standard varieties of English as well as other dialects, namely Trinidadian Creole in Trinidad and Tobagonian Creole in Tobago. Both islands as one consider the dialect as Trinbagonian Creole.

Trinidadian English was originally based on a standard of British English. Located in the Americas, TE now uses many Americanisms, including apartment and trunk (of a car). It is understandable by speakers of international standard English, although it uses a number of terms that are unique to it (perhaps coming from Trinidadian Creole), such as "to lime", meaning "to hang out". Speech in Trinidad (and, to some degree, in Tobago) may vary by location and circumstance and is often remarked for its "sing-song" (i.e. a rising and falling inflection) intonation.

Dialects and accents of Modern English by continent
North and
Description of the English language

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