Antillean Creole French
|kreyol, kwéyòl, patois|
|Native to||French Antilles, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago|
|1.2 million (1998–2001)|
gcf – Guadeloupean Creole
acf – Saint Lucian / Dominican Creole
scf – San Miguel Creole French (Panama)
Antillean Creole is related to Haitian Creole but has a number of distinctive features; however, they are mutually intelligible. The language was formerly more widely spoken in the Lesser Antilles, but its number of speakers is declining in Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada. While the islands of Dominica and Saint Lucia are officially English-speaking, there are efforts to preserve the use of Antillean Creole, as well as in Trinidad & Tobago and its neighbour Venezuela. In recent decades, it has gone from being seen as a sign of lower socio-economic status, banned in school playgrounds, to a mark of national pride.
Since the 1970s there has been a literary revival of Creole in the French-speaking islands of the Lesser Antilles, with writers such as Raphaël Confiant and Monchoachi employing the language. Edouard Glissant has written theoretically and poetically about its significance and its history.
Antillean Creole is spoken, to varying degrees, in Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Îles des Saintes, Martinique, Saint-Barthélemy (St. Barts), Saint Martin, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, French Guiana, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela (mainly in Macuro, Güiria and El Callao). Dominican, Grenadian, St. Lucian, Trinidadian, Brazillian (Lanc-Patuá} and Venezuelan speakers of Antillean Creole call the language patois.
Antillean Creole has approximately 1 million speakers. It is a means of communication for migrant populations traveling between neighbouring English- and French-speaking territories.
Antillean Kwéyòl was born out of the slavery era, Africans were assigned to the slavery plantations in the French Antilles; the French of their slave masters and their native tongues were somewhat useless as a method of communication since they spoke different tribal languages. As a result, they were forced to develop a new form of communication by relying on what they heard from their colonial masters and their fellow tribesmen. Sporadically, they would use words they thought they heard their colonial masters speak and combine them with their African expressions and sentence structure; thus, new words were wrought (fashioned) and given meaning.
Gradually, this new method of communication amongst the slaves spread across the regions of the Caribbean. This “Creole” language (French for "indigenous") progressively grew into a more recognizable language.
Variety of Antillean creole
Dominican Creole French
It is a sub-variety of Antillean Creole, which is spoken in other islands of the Lesser Antilles and is very closely related to the varieties spoken in Martinique, Saint Lucia, Guadeloupe, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago. The intelligibility rate with speakers of other varieties of Antillean Creole is almost 100%. Its syntactic, grammatical and lexical features are virtually identical to that of Martinican Creole, though, like its Saint Lucian counterpart, it includes more English loanwords than the Martinican variety. People who speak Haitian Creole can also understand Dominican Creole French, even though there are a number of distinctive features; they are mutually intelligible.
Like the other Caribbean Creoles, Dominican French Creole combines syntax of African and Carib origin with a primarily French-derived vocabulary.
Saint Lucian Creole French
It is a sub-variety of Antillean Creole, which is spoken in other islands of the Lesser Antilles and is very closely related to the varieties spoken in Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago. The intelligibility rate with speakers of other varieties of Antillean Creole is almost 100%. Its syntactic, grammatical and lexical features are virtually identical to that of Martinican Creole, though, like its Dominican counterpart, it includes more English loanwords than the Martinican variety.
Like the other Caribbean Creoles, Saint Lucian French Creole combines syntax of African and Carib origin with a primarily French-derived vocabulary. In addition, many expressions reflect the presence of an English Creole and Spanish influences are also present in the language.. The language is not considered to be mutually intelligible with standard French, but is intelligible with the other French creoles of the Lesser Antilles, and is related to Haitian Creole which has a number of distinctive features, but nonetheless are both mutually intelligible.
It is still widely spoken in Saint Lucia, though the actual number of speakers appear to have declined in the past decades. In the mid 19th century it was exported to Panama, where it is now moribund.
Grenadian Creole French
The Grenadian Creole French is a variety of Antillean Creole French. In Grenada, and among Grenadians, it is referred to as Patois or French Patois. This was once the lingua franca in Grenada, and was commonly heard as recently as 1930, when even children in some rural areas could speak it. In the twenty-first century, it can only be heard among elderly speakers in a few small pockets of the country.
Senior citizens still speak Creole French, but they are becoming fewer and fewer because, unlike St. Lucia and Dominica which lie close to the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, Grenada does not have French speaking neighbours to keep that language alive. Nevertheless, and in spite of the fact that, a generation or two ago, the use of Grenadian-English was frowned on by teachers and parents, a look at the history gives some understanding as to why conversations today are so liberally sprinkled with a collection of picturesque French Creole words and phrases.
French, or French Creole, was the language of the large majority of the inhabitants, slaves and estate owners, and, though the new British administrators spoke English, French was predominant.
Trinidadian French Creole
The Cedula of Population of 1783 laid the foundation and growth of the population of Trinidad. Following the Cedula of population, French planters with their slaves, free coloreds and mulattos from the French Antilles of Martinique, Grenada, Guadeloupe and Dominica migrated to the Trinidad during the French Revolution. These new immigrants establishing local communities of Blanchisseuse, Champs Fleurs, Paramin, Cascade, Carenage, Laventille, etc. Trinidad's population jumped to over 15,000 by the end of 1789, from just under 1,400 in 1777. This exodus was encouraged due to the French Revolution.
In 1797, Trinidad became a British crown colony, with a French-speaking population. Today, the Trinidadian French Creole can be found in regional pockets among the elder population, particularly in the villages of Paramin and Lopinot.
- Hello - bonjou /bonzu/ (from "bonjour").
- Please - souplé /su plɛ/ (from "s'il vous plaît").
- Thank you - mèsi /mɛsi/ (from "merci").
- Excuse me - eskizé mwen (from "excusez-moi").
- Rain is falling - lapli ka tonbé / lapli ap tonbe (Haitian) / (from "la pluie qui est/a tombé").
- Today is a nice/beautiful day - jodi-a sé an bel jounin / yon bel jou jodi-a bel (from "aujourd'hui c'est une belle journée").
- How are you/how are you keeping - ka ou fè? (Guadeloupe) / sa ou fè? (Martinique) sa k ap fèt? (Haitian).
- Anne is my sister/mother/wife - Ann sé sè/manman/madanm (an) mwen
- Andy is my brother/father/husband - Andy sé fwè/papa/mari (an) mwen
- He is going to the beach - i ka alé bodlanmè-a/laplaj (from "il va aller au bord de la mer/à la plage")
Below is a sample of St. Lucian Creole French taken from a folktale.
Pwenmyé ki pasé sé Konpè Kochon. I di, "Konpè Lapen, sa ou ka fè la?"
Konpè Lapen di'y, "Dé ti twou yanm ng'a (=mwen ka) fouyé bay ich mwen pou mwen bay ich mwen manjé."
Konpè Kochon di, "Mé, Konpè, ou kouyon, wi! Ou vlé di mwen sa kay fè yanm?"
An inaccurate English translation from the same source:
First to pass was Konpè Kochon (Mister Pig). He said, "Konpè Lapen (Mister Rabbit), what are you doing there?"
Konpè Lapen told him, "I am digging a few holes to plant yams to feed my children."
Konpè Kochon said, "But, Konpè, you're too foolish! You mean to tell me you can grow yams there?"
- Ethnologue codes Guadeloupean Creole French (spoken in Guadeloupe and Martinique) and Saint Lucian Creole French (spoken in Dominica and Saint Lucia) distinctly, with the respective ISO 639-3 codes: gcf and acf. However, it notes that their rate of comprehension is 90%, which would qualify them as dialects of a single language.
- Guadeloupean Creole at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
Saint Lucian / Dominican Creole at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
San Miguel Creole French (Panama) at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Guilbault, Jocelyne (1993). Zouk: world music in the West Indies. University of Chicago Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-226-31041-1. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Languages of Dominica. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, SIL International, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.
- "The Creole Language of Dominica". Retrieved 31 March 2014.
- Ethnologue report for language code:acf
- Konpè Lapen mandé on favè = Konpè Lapen asks a favor: a Saint Lucian folk tale. 1985. Vieux-Fort, Saint Lucia: SIL. 10 p.
- Antillean Creole Swadesh list of basic vocabulary words (from Wiktionary's Swadesh list appendix)