Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole languages, French-based creole, which is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles. Its grammar and vocabulary include elements of Carib language, Carib, English language, English, and African languages. Antillean Creole is related to Haitian Creole but has a number of distinctive features. Antillean Creole is spoken natively, to varying degrees, in Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Îles des Saintes, Martinique, Saint-Barthélemy (St. Barts), Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, French Guiana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela (mainly in Macuro, Güiria and El Callao Municipality). It is also spoken in various Creole-speaking immigrant communities in the United States Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, and the Collectivity of Saint Martin. Antillean Creole has approximately 1 million speakers and is a means of communication for migrant populations traveling between neighbouring English- and French-speaking territories. In a number of countries (including Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, Trinidad, Brazil (Lanc-Patuá) and Venezuela) the language is referred to as ''patois''. It has historically been spoken in nearly all of the Lesser Antilles, but its number of speakers has declined in Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. Conversely, it is widely used on the islands of Dominica and Saint Lucia; though they are officially English-speaking, there are efforts to preserve the use of Antillean Creole, as there are in Trinidad and Tobago and its neighbour, Venezuela. In recent decades, Creole 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. Édouard Glissant has written theoretically and poetically about its significance and its history.


Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc was a French trader and adventurer in the Caribbean who established the first permanent French colony, Saint-Pierre, Martinique, Saint-Pierre, on the island of Martinique in 1635. Belain sailed to the Caribbean in 1625, hoping to establish a French settlement on the island of Basseterre, St. Christopher (St. Kitts). In 1626, he returned to France, where he won the support of Cardinal Richelieu to establish French colonies in the region. Richelieu became a shareholder in the Compagnie de Saint-Christophe, created to accomplish that with d'Esnambuc at its head. The company was not particularly successful, and Richelieu had it reorganised as the Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique. In 1635, d'Esnambuc sailed to Martinique with 100 French settlers to clear land for sugarcane Sugar plantations in the Caribbean, plantations. After six months on Martinique, d'Esnambuc returned to St. Kitts, St. Christopher, where he soon died prematurely in 1636, leaving the company and Martinique in the hands of his nephew, Du Parquet. His nephew, Jacques Dyel du Parquet, inherited d'Esnambuc's authority over the French settlements in the Caribbean. Dyel du Parquet became governor of the island. He remained in Martinique and did not concern himself with the other islands. The French permanently settled on Martinique and Guadeloupe after being driven off Saint Kitts and Nevis (french: Saint-Christophe) by the British. Fort Royal (now Fort-de-France) on Martinique was a major port for French battle ships in the region from which the French were able to explore the region. In 1638, Dyel du Parquet decided to have Fort Saint Louis (Martinique), Fort Saint Louis built to protect the city against enemy attacks. From Fort Royal, Martinique, Du Parquet proceeded south in search for new territories, established the first settlement in Saint Lucia in 1643 and headed an expedition that established a French settlement in Grenada in 1649. Despite the long history of British rule, Grenada's French heritage is still evident by the number of French loanwords in Grenadian Creole French, Grenadian Creole and the French-style buildings, cuisine and placenames (Petit Martinique, Martinique Channel, etc.) In 1642, the Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique received a 20-year extension of its charter. The king would name the governor general of the company, and the company would name the governors of the various islands. However, by the late 1640s, Cardinal Mazarin had little interest in colonial affairs, and the company languished. In 1651, it dissolved itself, selling its exploitation rights to various parties. The Du Paquet family bought Martinique, Grenada and Saint Lucia for 60,000 livres. The sieur d'Charles Houël du Petit Pré, Houël bought Guadeloupe, Marie-Galante, La Desirade and the Îles des Saintes, Saintes. The Knights Hospitaller, Knights of Malta bought Saint Barthélemy and Collectivity of Saint Martin, Saint Martin and then sold them in 1665 to the French West India Company, Compagnie des Indes occidentales, formed one year earlier. Dominica is a former French and British colony in the Eastern Caribbean, about halfway between the French islands of Guadeloupe (to the north) and Martinique (to the south). Christopher Columbus named the island after the day of the week on which he spotted it, a Sunday ( la, dies Dominica, links=no), on 3 November 1493. In the 100 years after Columbus's landing, Dominica remained isolated. At the time, it was inhabited by the Island Caribs, or Kalinago people. Over time, more settled there after they had been driven from surrounding islands, as European powers entered the region. In 1690, French woodcutters from Martinique and Guadeloupe begin to set up timber camps to supply the French islands with wood and gradually become permanent settlers. France had a colony for several years and imported slaves from West Africa, Martinique and Guadeloupe to work on its plantations. The Antillean Creole language developed. France formally ceded possession of Dominica to Great Britain in 1763. The latter established a small colony on the island in 1805. As a result, Dominica uses English language, English as an official language, but Antillean Creole is still spoken as a secondary language because of Dominica's location between the French-speaking departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique. In Trinidad, the Spanish possessed the island but contributed little towards advancements, with El Dorado being their focus. Trinidad was perfect for its geographical location. Because Trinidad was considered underpopulated, Roume de St. Laurent, a Frenchman living in Grenada, was able to obtain a Cédula de Población from King Charles III of Spain on 4 November 1783. Trinidad's population jumped to over 15,000 by the end of 1789, from just under 1,400 in 1777. In 1797, Trinidad became a British crown colony, despite its French-speaking population.

Origin of creole

In 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 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 other slaves. 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 fashioned and given meaning. Gradually, the new method of communication among the slaves spread across the regions of the Caribbean. The creole languages (French for "indigenous") progressively grew into a distinct language.



: This sound occurs on islands where the official language is English in certain loanwords e.g . : The uvular r // only occurs on islands wherein French is an official language. Otherwise, where the uvular r would occur where other dialects use //. Furthermore, this sound is usually pronounced as a Velar Fricative and is much softer than the European French .



There is some variation in orthography between the islands. In St.Lucia, Dominica and Martinique 'dj' and 'tj' are used whereas in Guadeloupe 'gy' and 'ky' are used.These represent differences in pronunciations. Several words may be pronounced in various ways depending on the region: : 'heart' : kè /Voiceless velar stop, kOpen-mid front unrounded vowel, ɛ/ : kyè /Voiceless palatal stop, cOpen-mid front unrounded vowel, ɛ/ : tjè /Voiceless palato-alveolar affricate, t͡ʃOpen-mid front unrounded vowel, ɛ/ The letter 'r' in St.Lucia and Dominica represents the English /Alveolar and postalveolar approximants, ɹ/ whereas in Guadeloupe and Martinique it represents the more French-like sound /Voiced velar fricative, ɣ/.


#Man is used in Dominica and Martinique. An is used in Guadeloupe and St.Lucia, but less so in the latter. # m, ng, and n are contracted forms of mwen which occur before certain verb particles: Mwen pa → m'a, mwen ka → ng'a or n'a mwen kay → ng'ay or n'ay # w and y occur after a vowel. Nonm-lan wè i→ Nonm-lan wè'y. Koumonon ou?→ Koumonon'w? # li occurs after consonants. Ou konnèt i?→ Ou konnèt li? Personal pronouns in Antillean Creole are invariable so they do not inflect for case as in European languages such as French or English. This means that mwen, for example, can mean I, me or my; yo can mean they, them, their etc. Possessive adjectives are placed after the noun; kay mwen 'my house' manman'w 'your mother' 'ou' and 'li' are used after nouns ending in a consonant and 'w' and 'y' after nouns ending in a vowel. All other possessive adjectives are invariable. Kaz ou - Your house Kouto'w - Your knife Madanm li - His wife Sésé'y - Her sister

Indefinite article

The indefinite article is placed before the noun and can be pronounced as ''on, an, yon, yan''. The word ''yonn'' means one. On chapo Yon wavèt An moun Yan tòti

Definite article

In Creole, there are five definite articles (la, lan, a, an, nan) which are placed ''after'' the nouns they modify, in contrast to French. The final syllable of the preceding word determines which is used with which nouns. If the last sound is an oral consonant and is preceded by an oral vowel, it becomes ''la'': If the last sound is an oral consonant and is preceded by a nasal vowel, it becomes ''lan'': If the last sound is an oral vowel and is preceded by an oral consonant, it becomes ''a'': If a word ends in a nasal vowel, it becomes ''an'': If the last sound is a Nasal stop, nasal consonant, it becomes ''nan'', but this form is rare and is usually replaced by ''lan'': Note that in Guadeloupean Creole there is no agreement of sounds between the noun and definite article and ''la'' is used for all nouns Demonstrative article Like the definite article this is placed after the noun. It varies widely by region. Verbs in Creole are invariable and unlike French or English have no inflection to distinguish tenses. A series of particles placed before the verb indicate tense and aspect. There is no Subjunctive mood.


The vocabulary of Antillean Creole is based mostly on French, with many contributions from West African languages, Spanish, English and Amerindian languages.


Dominican Creole French

The Dominican Creole French is a French-based creole languages, creole French, which is the generally-spoken language in Dominica. It is a subvariety 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, but like its Saint Lucian counterpart, it has 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 a syntax of African and Carib origin with a vocabulary primarily derived from French.

Saint Lucian Creole French

The Saint Lucian Creole French is a French-based creole languages, French-based creole that is the generally-spoken language in Saint Lucia. It is a subvariety 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. Its syntactic, grammatical and lexical features are virtually identical to that of Martinican Creole. Like the other Caribbean creoles, Saint Lucian French Creole combines a syntax of African and Carib origin with a vocabulary primarily derived from French. In addition, many expressions reflect a Spanish language, Spanish influence in the language. The language can be considered to be mutually intelligible with French creoles of the Lesser Antilles and is related to Haitian Creole, which has nonetheless a number of distinctive features. It is still widely spoken in Saint Lucia. In the mid-19th century, migrants took the language with them to Panama, where it is now moribund.

Grenadian Creole French

Historically, French, or French Creole, was the language of the large majority of the inhabitants, slaves and estate owners. Though the new British administrators spoke English, French was still predominant. The Grenadian Creole French is a variety of Antillean Creole French. In Grenada and among Grenadians, it is referred to as ''Patois'' or ''French language, French Patois''. It was once the lingua franca in Grenada and was commonly heard as recently as 1930 when children in some rural areas could speak it. In the 21st century, it can be heard only among elderly speakers in a few small pockets of the country. 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 the language alive.

Trinidadian French Creole

Trinidadian creole, Trinidadian French Creole is a French Creole (Patois) of Trinidad spoken by descendants of the French Creole migrants from the French Antilles. The Cedula of Population of 1783 laid the foundation and growth of the population of Trinidad. French planters with their slaves, free coloureds and mulattos, from the French Antilles of Martinique, Grenada, Guadeloupe and Dominica, migrated to Trinidad during the French Revolution. The immigrants establishing local communities of Blanchisseuse, Champs Fleurs, Paramin, Cascade, Carenage, Laventille, etc. Trinidad's population, which numbered less than 1,400 in 1777, soared to over 15,000 by the end of 1789. In 1797, Trinidad became a British crown colony, with a French-speaking and Patois-speaking population. Today, Trinidadian French Creole can be found in regional pockets among the elders, particularly in the villages of Paramin and Lopinot.

Example vocabulary

*Hello – ''bonjou'' (from "bonjour"). *Please – ''souplé'' (from "s'il vous plaît"). *Thank you – ''mèsi'' (from "merci"). *Excuse me – ''eskizé mwen'' (from "excusez-moi"). *Rain is falling – ''lapli ka tonbé'' / ''lapli ap tonbe'' (Haitian) / (from "la pluie tombe"). *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")

Sample texts

Below are samples of St. Lucian Creole French taken from a folktale.''Konpè Lapen mandé on favè = Konpè Lapen asks a favor: a Saint Lucian folk tale.'' 1985. Vieux-Fort, Saint Lucia: SIL. 10 p.
An 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?"


External links

Antillean Creole Swadesh list of basic vocabulary words
(from Wiktionary'
Swadesh list appendix
{{authority control French-based pidgins and creoles Languages of the Caribbean Languages of Dominica Languages of France Languages of Guadeloupe Languages of Îles des Saintes Languages of Martinique Languages of Saint Lucia Languages of Trinidad and Tobago Subject–verb–object languages French language in the Americas