Sometimes I hear the emphasis placed on the second syllable, and other times on the second to last syllable. I myself use both pronunciations depending on context, and it makes me wonder if there is an underlying rule that I can't quite put my finger on.
The two pronunciations of Caribbean I know of are mentioned in Wikipedia:
- /kærɨˈbiːən/ (ka-rih-BEE-uhn)
- /kəˈrɪbiən/ (kuh-RIB-ee-uhn)
Both are standard; however, there are a couple proper nouns containing the word Caribbean that have a fixed pronunciation:
I personally make a sort of generalization from this and use #1 for the noun usage and #2 for the adjective usage, but there is no reason anyone else should use this rule unless they like it. Most people probably just stick to one preferred pronunciation.
Billy Ocean uses #1 in his song “Caribbean Queen”, as does Bob Dylan in his song “Caribbean Wind”.