It’s a French (St. Barts) vs. English (St. Barth) thing.
A few months ago, when I knew I’d be heading to St. Barts (or St. Barth) for a wedding in December, my friends responded with enthusiasm but something left me baffled. Either no one knew how to spell St. Barts or this Caribbean island in the French West Indies simply has a lot of nicknames.
Even when I dug deep, and by that I mean looking it up on Wikipedia, clarification still didn’t surface. Moreover, St. Barts’ official name – Saint Barthélemy – also comes with equal confusion. Some references appeared without a dash, yet some do, like: Saint-Barthélemy. So I stuck to my intuitive guns, and wrote “St. Bart’s” in all of my text messages. Apostrophe, included.
Boy was I wrong. For a fan of languages like me, I wanted to be educated. ASAP!
It wasn’t until my very last night in St. Barts that a proper explanation was provided over sips of rum. Explained to me by a Frenchman, of course. As they seem to seemingly knowing everything, per usual. The correct way of referring to St. Barts is Saint-Barthélemy…in French. For short, however, it’s St. Barth, still in French.
In English, for some reason, we call it St. Barths or St. Barts. Apostrophe, not included.
There isn’t a good explanation anywhere that discloses the reason behind the multitude of versions. But us Americans, we love to shorten everything. I’m just surprised St. Barts doesn’t come with an acronym, like: SB or SBTH.
So the next time you wonder how you should call this glamorous Caribbean destination, think about who you’re texting or speaking to. If it’s a French person, I’d say St. Barth is the way to go. If it’s an English-speaking person, then stick to St. Barts. Not sure if it matters though, that in French, the “TH” sound doesn’t require sticking out your tongue between your teeth. It sounds more like a “T” or “te”. If you’re a no fuss no muss kind of a traveler, then calling it St. Barts is most likely your easiest bet.