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|kréyòl, kouri-vini, gombo, fransé, fransé kasé|
|Native to||Louisiana, (particularly St. Martin Parish, Natchitoches Parish, St. Landry Parish, Jefferson Parish, Lafayette Parish and Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana); also in California (chiefly Southern California), Illinois, and in Texas (chiefly East Texas).|
|< 10,000 (2010)|
French spread in Louisiana. Parishes marked in yellow are those where 4–10% of the population speak French or Louisiana French at home, orange 10–15%, red 15–20%, brown 20–30%.
Louisiana Creole (kréyol la lwizyàn; French: créole louisianais) is a French-based creole language spoken by far fewer than 10,000 people, mostly in the state of Louisiana. Due to the rapidly shrinking number of speakers, Louisiana Creole is considered an endangered language.
Louisiana Creole was spoken initially by those living in the French slave colony of Louisiana. Many of the enslaved Africans came from Senegambia region of West Africa beginning in about 1719. These people originally spoke a Mande language related to Manlike and they were in contact with other languages such as Ewe, Yoruba and Kikongo.
Louisiana Creole is a contact language that arose from interactions between speakers of French and various African languages in the 18th century. For this reason, prior to its establishment, the precursor to Louisiana Creole was considered a pidgin language. In its historical backdrop, this pidgin was born to facilitate communication between African slaves and francophone land owners. Once the pidgin tongue was transmitted to the next generation (who were then considered the first native speakers of the new grammar), it could effectively be considered a creole language.
Language shift, endangerment and revitalization
In the case of Louisiana Creole, a diglossia resulted between Louisiana Creole and Plantation Society French (PSF) also known as Colonial French. The latter was frequently associated with plantation owners, plantation overseers, small landowners, military officers/soldiers and bilingual, free people of color. Over the centuries, Louisiana Creole's negative associations with slavery have stigmatized the language to the point where many speakers are reluctant to use it for fear of ridicule. In this way, the assignment of "high" variety (or H language) was allotted to PSF and that of "low" variety (or L language) was given to Louisiana Creole (please refer to diglossia for more information on H and L languages).
The social status of Louisiana Creole further declined as a result of the Louisiana Purchase. The promise of upward socioeconomic mobility prompted many speakers of Louisiana Creole to abandon their stigmatised language in favor of English. Additionally, the development of industry, technology and infrastructure in Louisiana reduced the isolation of Louisiana Creolophone communities and resulted in the arrival of more English-speakers, resulting in further exposure to English. Because of this, Louisiana Creole exhibits extensive influence from English, including loanwords, code-switching and syntactic calquing.
Today, Louisiana Creole is spoken by fewer than 10,000 people. Though national census data includes figures on language usage, these are often unreliable in Louisiana due to respondents' tendencies to identify their language in line with their ethnic identity. For example, speakers of Louisiana Creole who identify as Cajuns often label their language 'Cajun French', though on linguistic grounds their language would be considered Louisiana Creole.
Efforts to revitalize French in Louisiana have placed emphasis on Cajun French, to the exclusion of Creole. However, community organisations such as CREOLE, Inc. have led a handful of community-level efforts to promote the language. CREOLE, Inc., for example, has organised a 'Creole Table' in St. Martinville, as well as a number of other language-focused events. In addition, there is an active online community of language-learners and activists engaged in language revitalization, led by language activist Christophe Landry. These efforts have resulted in the creation of an semi-standardized orthography and a digitalized version of Valdman et al.'s Louisiana Creole Dictionary. A first language primer was released in 2017.
Speakers of Louisiana Creole are mainly concentrated in south and southwest Louisiana, where the population of Creolophones is distributed across the region. St. Martin Parish forms the heart of the Creole-speaking region. Other sizeable communities exist along Bayou Têche in St. Landry, Avoyelles, Iberia, and St. Mary Parishes. There are smaller communities on False River in Pointe-Coupée Parish, in Terrebone Parish, and along the lower Mississippi River in Ascension, St. Charles Parish, and St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes.
There are also numbers of Creolophones in Natchitoches Parish on Cane River and sizable communities of Louisiana Creole-speakers in adjacent Southeast Texas (Beaumont, Houston, Port Arthur, Galveston) and the Chicago area. Louisiana Creole speakers in California reside in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino counties and in Northern California (San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento County, Plumas County, Tehama County, Mono County, and Yuba County.). Historically, there were Creole-speaking communities in Mississippi and Alabama (on Mon Louis Island), however it is likely that no speakers remain in these areas.
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Definite articles in Louisiana Creole vary between the le, la and les used in standard French (a testament of possible decreolization in some areas) and a and la for the singular, and yé for the plural.[dubious ] Louisiana Creole exhibits subject-verb-object (SVO) word order.
|1st person||I||mo||me||mò||mine||mokin/mochin (masculine)
|3rd person||he, she||li, ça||him, her||li||his, her, hers||sokin/sochin
|1st plural||we||no, not, nouzòt||us||nouzòt, nou, zòt||our, ours||nokin/nochin
|2nd plural||you||vos, vouzòt||you||vou, vouzòt||your, yours||vokin/vochin
|3rd plural||they||yé||them||yé||their, theirs||yékin/yéchin
In theory, Creole places its definite articles after the noun, unlike French. Given Louisiana Creole's complex linguistic relationship with Colonial French and Cajun French, however, this is often no longer the case. Since there is no system of noun gender, articles only vary on phonetic criteria. The article a is placed after words ending in a vowel, and la is placed after words ending in a consonant.[dubious ]
Another aspect of Louisiana Creole which is unlike French is the lack of verb conjugation. Verbs do not vary based on person or number. Verbs vary based on verbal markers (e.g., té (past tense), sé (conditional), sa or "a[alé]" (future)) which are placed between the personal pronouns and conjugated verbs (e.g. Mo té kourí ô Villaj, "I went to Lafayette"). Frequently in the past tense, the verbal marker is omitted and one is left to figure out the time of the event through context.
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The vocabulary of Louisiana Creole is of primarily of French origin, as French is the language's lexifier. Some local vocabulary, such as topography, animals, plants are of Amerindian origin. The language has a small number of vocabulary items from west and central African languages (namely Bambara, Wolof, Fon) in folklore and in the religion of Voodoo. Much of this non-French vocabulary is shared with other French-based creole languages of North America, and Louisiana Creole shares all but a handful of vocabulary with Louisiana French.
Included are the French numbers for comparison.
|How are things?||Konmen lé-zafè?||Comment vont les affaires ?|
|How are you doing?||Konmen to yê? Konmen ç'ap(é) kouri?||Comment allez-vous ? Comment vas-tu?|
|I'm good, thanks.||Çé bon, mèsi. Mo bien, mèsi.||Ça va bien, merci.|
|See you later.||Wa (twa) pli tar.||Je te vois (vois-toi) plus tard. (À plus tard.)|
|I love you.||Mo laimé twa.||Je t'aime.|
|Take care.||Swinn-twa.||Soigne-toi. (Prends soin de toi.)|
|Good Night.||Bonswa. / Bonnwí.||Bonne nuit.|
The Lord's Prayer
Nouzòt Popá, ki dan syèl-la
Tokin nom, li sinkifyè,
N'ap spéré pou to
rwayomm arivé, é n'a fé ça
t'olé dan syèl ; paréy si la tèr
Donné-nou jordi dipin tou-lé-jou,
é pardon nouzòt péshé paréy nou pardon
lê moun ki fé nouzòt sikombé tentasyon-la,
Mé délivré nou depi mal.
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