French Guianese Creole

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French Guianese Creole
guyanais, patois
Native to French Guiana
Native speakers
unknown (50 000 cited 1977)[1]
French Creole
  • French Guianese Creole
Language codes
ISO 639-3 gcr
Glottolog guia1246[2]

51-AAC-cd (varieties:

51-AAC-cda to -cdd)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.
French Guiana, where French Guiana Creole originates.

French Guianese Creole is a French-lexified creole language spoken in French Guiana, and to a lesser degree, in Suriname and Guyana. It resembles Antillean Creole, but there are some lexical and grammatical differences between them. Antilleans can generally understand French Guiana Creole, though the notable differences between the créole of French Guiana and the créoles of the Caribbean may cause some instances of confusion. The diffences consist of more French and Brazilian Portuguese influences (due to the proximity of Brazil and Portuguese presence in the country for several years.) There are also words of Amerindian and African origin. There are Guianese communities in Suriname and Guyana who continue to speak French Guiana Creole.

It should not be confused with the Guyanese Creole language, based on English, spoken in nearby Guyana.


French Guiana's population of 250,109 (January 2013 est.) most of whom live along the coast, is very ethnically diverse. At the 2011 census, 56.5% of the inhabitants of French Guiana were born in French Guiana, 9.3% were born in Metropolitan France, 3.4% were born in the French Caribbean départements (Guadeloupe and Martinique), and 30.5% were born in foreign countries (primarily Suriname, Brazil, Haiti, St. Lucia and Dominica).[3]

Estimates of the percentages of French Guiana ethnic composition vary, a situation compounded by the large proportion of immigrants. Mulattoes (people of mixed African and French ancestry), are the largest ethnic group, though estimates vary as to the exact percentage. Generally the Creole population is judged to be about 60 to 70% of the total population if Haitians (comprising roughly one-third of Creoles) are included, and 30 to 50% without. There are also smaller groups from various Caribbean islands, mainly Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Lucia as well as Dominica.

Orthography and phonology[edit]

French Guiana Creole is largely written using the French alphabet, with only a few exceptions. 'Q' and 'X' are replaced by 'k' and 'z' respectively. 'C' is not used apart from in the diagraph, ch, where it stands for [ʃ] (the word for horse is chouval, similar to French's cheval.) Otherwise, it is replaced by 'k' when it stands for [k] (Standard French's comment (why) is written kouman) and 's', when it stands for [s]. Silent 'h' is never written, unlike in Standard French, where it remains for etymological purposes.

French Guiana creole does not have many of the characteristic sounds of French. The letter 'j' ([ʒ]) is pronounced [z] instead. There is no [y] sound either. This sound is pronounced [i] and written 'i'. Thus, the word 'usé' in standard French is written 'isé.' The diagraph [wɑ] is pronounced [ɔ]: 'moi' (me) is pronounced [mɔ]. One should also note that French Guiana Creole is a non-rhotic language with no nasal vowels, and thus all R sounds and nasals are dropped from borrowings from other languages: bonjour, pronounced [bɔ̃ʒuːʁ] in standard French, is rendered [bonzu].


French Guiana Creole (IPA) Metropolitan French English
Boujou /bonzu/ Bonjour Hello; Good day
Souplé /suː plɛ/ S'il vous plaît Please
Mèsi /mɛsi/ Merci Thank you
Mo /mɔ/ Moi, me, je Me, I
To /tɔ/ Toi, te, tu You
Li /li/ Lui, le, il Him, he
Roun /ruːn/ Un, une One
Eskuzé mo /esˈkuːzɛ mɔ/ Excusez-moi Excuse me, pardon me
Lapli ka tombe /laˈpliː ka tomb/ Il pleut Rain is falling
Jod-la a roun bel jou /zodˈla a ruːn bel zu/ Aujourd'hui, il fait beau Today is a beautiful day
Sa to fé? /sa tɔ fɛ/ (Comment) ça va? How are you?
Anne a mo manman /an a mɔ ˈmanman/ Anne est ma mère Anne is my mother
Andy a to frè /andi a tɔ frɛ/ Andy est ton frère Andy is your brother
Li ka alé a laplaj /li ka alɛ a laˈplaz/ Il va aller à la plage He's going to the beach
Mo pa mélé Je m'en moque I don't care


  1. ^ French Guianese Creole at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Guianese Creole French". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ INSEE. "Fichier Données harmonisées des recensements de la population de 1968 à 2011" (in French). Retrieved 25 October 2014.