The Creole Language
in St. Lucia

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St. Lucia's Patois is Actually Kweyol

Many St. Lucians are more fluent in the French-based Creole, also referred to as a French patois, than English. The proper name for this language is Kweyol, which some say is the only indigenous Caribbean language.  Kweyol is spoken not only on St. Lucia but Martinique, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Marie Galante, Dominica, Haiti and slightly in Grenada and Trinidad.

It is also spoken in the U.S., in the state of Louisiana, off Africa in the Seychelles and marginally in Brazil, Venezuela and Panama.  Worldwide, an estimated 15 million people speak Creole, though with considerable variations.   

In 1983, Bannzil Kweyol, the international organization of Creole speaking countries that also includes Mauritius and the Seychelles, decided at a Louisiana meeting to celebrate Jounen Kweyol, or International Creole Day, each year on October 28.

In St. Lucia, the Folk Research Centre in Castries has been responsible for observing this day and promoting the country’s heritage. For information about the Folk Research Centre, visit www.stluciatravel.com.lc/frc.htm.

Since the 1990s, Kweyol has become more of a living language due to the publication of several important Kweyol-related books.

The first English-Kweyol and Kweyol-English dictionary ever was published in 1992 but, unfortunately, its cost of several hundred dollars EC put it well out of the reach of most people.

A Kweyol version of the New Testament that took 15 years to complete at a cost of US$ 1 million was completed in 1999; thousands of free copies were distributed.  Finally, the first inexpensive Kweyol dictionary brought lines of eager buyers to the bookstores in 2002,

As yet, Kweyol is not taught in St. Lucia schools and the country’s one Kweyol newspaper closed down. However, brief news segments are presented on the radio in Kweyol and public figures frequently give addresses in Kweyol and English.

It’s fair to say that in practice St. Lucia is a bi-lingual country

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