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January 18th, 2005


One time in about 3rd grade or so, we all had just come back from lunch and our teacher was going to talk with us about… something or other. Probably something educational. We had placed our desks in a horseshoe setup, so she could see all of us (and we were all in the “front row,”) and she began to talk.

She told us about a vacation she had taken in the Caribbean. But something sounded odd: the way she pronounced “Caribbean.” She said, “Car – ih – be – un.” I had always thought it was, “Care – a – be – in.” So, being the industrious student I was, I raised my hand. This would naturally interrupt her story.

“Excuse me. Isn’t it Care – a – be – in?”

“No, Paul, it can be said either way,” she said, quite annoyed that a 3rd grader tried to correct her diction.

I felt a little embarrassed about it, but still felt I was in the right. So the question for the Pingers out there is this: how do you pronounce Caribbean?

Posted in Childhood Memories

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday January 18, 2005 -- 8:05:41 am
We should ask Billy Ocean. He has a good grasp of their monarchy.

FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday January 18, 2005 -- 9:19:36 am
I've always pronounced it like your teacher.

FROM: Monica
DATE: Tuesday January 18, 2005 -- 9:40:22 am
I say how you say it, Paul, when using it as a noun, and the other way for an adjective.

FROM: jk
DATE: Tuesday January 18, 2005 -- 10:45:53 am
I side with your teacher.

FROM: dave
DATE: Tuesday January 18, 2005 -- 1:25:06 pm
In Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters (a Troma classic) this argument is settled the old-fashioned way - Indonesian women's wrestling.

FROM: Lorene
DATE: Tuesday January 18, 2005 -- 2:29:20 pm
I say it your way Paul.

And Ryan, nice reference. I had to read it twice to get it, then laughed out loud.

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Tuesday January 18, 2005 -- 2:52:12 pm
I hear what you're saying. I grew up with people putting the accent of the first syllable (what I gather to be Paul's way). But then I heard it pronounced with the accent on the second syllable (what I think is Paul's teacher's way).
But I'm still confused about that last syllable. Paul's teacher's way is "un," while Paul's way is "in." Is that the difference?

Paul: was your teacher accenting the last syllable and pronouncing it "un," like the first syllable of under? If so, that's just weird.

Of course, I found out recently that the Caribbean/Caribbean debate began long before the Carribean was so named. The original debate is about how to pronounce carob. Is it carob or carob?

DATE: Tuesday January 18, 2005 -- 5:30:42 pm
I sat carabe-in

FROM: jk
DATE: Tuesday January 18, 2005 -- 10:53:16 pm
Customers of mine were getting ready for vacation today, so I asked them where they were going. I had to try hard not to giggle when they said they were going to the Caribbean, pronounced the way your teacher did.

FROM: Dave
DATE: Wednesday August 3, 2005 -- 12:29:40 pm
I was a radio announcer for many years in South Florida and had many personal ties to that area's Caribbean community. I pronounce it "Cuh-RIBB"-ee-unn."

FROM: Barry
DATE: Monday August 15, 2005 -- 12:31:18 pm
I-really-don't-care-just-take-me-there-in-the-winter. but here's another interesting take on this "Vital to World Peace" question: check out

FROM: annie
DATE: Monday January 2, 2006 -- 2:30:37 am
I'm inclined to go with CaRIBBean, but I'm always hearing the lovely way that Bob (Marley) says it in 'Buffalo Soldier' - soldiers 'from the heart of the CARE eh BE an". How do all hear other famous West Indians say it?

FROM: Ivan Maldonado
DATE: Wednesday May 10, 2006 -- 8:04:56 pm
I pronounce it both ways. Once, I said "Pirates of the Care-a-be-in," but my smartass friend tried to correct me by saying "Car-ih-be-un." In turn, I lectured him and told him the word is pronounced both ways. I think "Care-a-be-in" sounds British while "Car-ih-be-un" sounds American.

FROM: cc
DATE: Sunday July 9, 2006 -- 2:47:45 am
i pronounce it the teacher way, i think it defines your personality by pronouncing it, care-ih-bee-an means you're more shy and less exotic and stuff. care-ihbb-ean (teacher style) means you're more outgoing and willing to try new stuff.

FROM: Thiel
DATE: Thursday July 20, 2006 -- 4:31:00 pm
Here's an excerpt on how to pronounce the word correctly.

Although many tourists and foreigners favor say "ka-rib-e-an," this is a corruption of "ker-e-be-an," the accurate pronunciation truest to how the Caribs ("ker-ibs") pronounce their own name. The regional beer (Carib) is pronounced "kar-ib," not "ka-rib-eh." By the way, the Caribs say "po-ta-tow," not "po-tot-tow," and they should know. Potato is a Carib word adopted into English.


FROM: cc
DATE: Saturday August 5, 2006 -- 7:58:11 pm
the website that you got that from is totally wrong, Thiel. despite them being a vacationing website, they havent done their research. the ker-e-be-an pronunciation is for describing the people, and ka-rib-e-an is for the location of the islands and stuff

moses February 6, 2007, 7:45 pm

I have a friend from the Caribbean who said that pronouncing it “Car-ih-be-un” made it sound too fancy and that mostly Americans said it like that. He said the way that he pronounced it, was “Care-a-be-in”.

caleb May 21, 2007, 9:15 pm

I am with Monica. I think it’s the adjective/noun determination!

BasTAVaZoolo September 28, 2010, 5:42 pm

Only an idiot or blue haired lady prononunce Caribbean the
hoitie toitie way Ka Ribb’ E In
The correct way is how they prononunce it: Ker A Bee In.

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