Languages of Mauritius

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The Constitution of Mauritius mentions no official language. It only contains a statement in Article 49 that “The official language of the Assembly shall be English but any member may address the chair in French,”[1][2] implying that English and French are official languages of the National Assembly (parliament). However, the majority language and lingua franca of the country is the French-based Mauritian creole. English is used as the prime medium of instruction in public schools while French is also a common language in education and the dominant language of media.[3] According to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, 72.7% of the Mauritians were French speakers in 2005.[4]

Both French and English are common languages on signs in Mauritius.

Being both an English-speaking and French-speaking nation, Mauritius is a member of both the Commonwealth of Nations and La Francophonie.

Mauritian Creole, which is spoken by an estimated 90% of the population, is considered to be the native language of the country and is used most often in informal settings.[5] It was developed in the 18th century by slaves who used a pidgin language to communicate with each other as well as with their French masters, who did not understand the various African languages. The pidgin evolved with later generations to become a casual language.[6] Mauritian Creole is a French-based creole due to its close ties with French pronunciation and vocabulary.[7]

Mauritian Sign Language is the language of the deaf community.

It is only in the Parliament that the official language is English but any member of the National Assembly can still address the chair in French.[8][9] English and French are generally accepted as the official languages of Mauritius and as the languages of government administration and the court business. The lingua franca is Creole.[3]

In Mauritius, people switch languages according to the situation.[5] Creole and Bhojpuri are the main languages used at home, both French and Creole are used in a business context and English is used most in schools and governments.[5] French and English, which have long enjoyed greater social status, are favored in educational and professional settings.[5] Also, most newspapers and media communications are in French.[6] American and other English-language movies and TV programmes shown in Mauritius are conventionally dubbed into French. When Franco-Mauritians engage in conversations with Creole speakers, French is more commonly employed than Creole.

Other languages spoken in Mauritius include Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Urdu, some varieties of Chinese (in particular, Hakka and Mandarin), Gujarati, and Bhojpuri, which is an amalgamation of several Indian languages spoken by the early Indian settlers.[3] Most Mauritians are at least bilingual, if not trilingual.[3][6][10][11] The earliest builders brought by the French were the Tamils of Indian origin, who were employed to build Port Louis, the capital. A century later, laborers from other parts of British India were brought by the British. Arabic is taught in mosques around Mauritius.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Article 49 in the Constitution of Mauritius.
  2. ^ "Republic of Mauritius, Government Portal (Mauritius)". 
  3. ^ a b c d "Coexistence International at Brandeis University" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-07-04. 
  4. ^ (French) La Francophonie dans le monde 2006–2007 published by the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. Nathan, Paris, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d English Usage in Mauritius. Retrieved on 2012-11-11.
  6. ^ a b c Facts and Figures. (1968-03-12). Retrieved on 2012-11-11.
  7. ^ Holm, J. (1989). Pidgins and Creoles. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 476. , p.353.
  8. ^ "Article 49 of The Constitution". National Assembly of Mauritius. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  9. ^ Mauritius defies anglophone past to embrace French language. (2008-10-18). Retrieved on 2012-11-11.
  10. ^ Circular Migration Agreement will enable Mauritians work in France

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