Antillean Creole French

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Antillean Creole
kreyol, kwéyòl, patois
Native to French Antilles, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago[1]
Native speakers
1.2 million  (1998–2001)[2]
French Creole
  • Antillean Creole
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
gcf – Guadeloupean Creole
acf – Saint Lucian / Dominican Creole
scf – San Miguel Creole French (Panama)

51-AAC-cc (varieties:

51-AAC-cca to -cck)
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Antillean Creole is a French-based creole, which is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles. Its grammar and vocabulary include elements of Carib and African languages.[citation needed]

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,[3] 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.

Dominican, Grenadian, St. Lucian, Trinidadian and Venezuelan speakers of Antillean Creole call the language patois.[4]

Antillean Creole is spoken, to varying degrees, in Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Îles des Saintes, Martinique, Saint-Barthélemy (St. Barts), Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela (mainly in Macuro, Güiria and El Callao). 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]


Road sign in residential area in Guadeloupe. Slow down. Children are playing here.
  • 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")

Text Sample[edit]

Below is a sample of St. Lucian Creole French taken from a folktale.[5]

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?"


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Languages of Dominica. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, SIL International, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.
  5. ^ Konpè Lapen mandé on favè = Konpè Lapen asks a favor: a Saint Lucian folk tale. 1985. Vieux-Fort, Saint Lucia: SIL. 10 p.

External links[edit]