The Rise and Fall of French Creole in Trinidad with Special Mention of Patois Retentions


French Creole is a language that has been widely studied in the Caribbean by scholars such as Mervyn C. Alleyne and Michel DeGraff (Reid 2012). Many countries such as Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia and Haiti have their own distinct variety of French Creole with the language being an official language in the Haitian territory. However, unlike St. Lucia and Haiti where French Creole is thriving, the language is severely endangered on the island of Trinidad. French Creole was once the lingua franca of the island, so why is this language now endangered? Over time from the mid twentieth century to present day, the language has lost its prevalence in society. This research project aims to investigate two main research questions: – How or why the language lost its status as a language of wider communication on the island as well as if there are any lexical retentions from the Patois language known to the younger generation aged 18-40. In the small coastal town of Cedros, the language of Patois was once spoken as the common tongue for many of the town’s inhabitants. Today, only a handful of elderly population have retained the language, many choosing not to share or transmit the language with their children and grandchild due to negative attitudes towards the language which emerged even more in the mid-twentieth century. For this research project, the researcher was fortunate to interview a pair of siblings who shared their knowledge or lack thereof of the Patois language. This study follows a mixed methodology as interviews and questionnaires were used to gather data. The interviews provided insight into language attitudes whereas the questionnaires provided insight into language retention. It should be noted that this study does not provide any solutions to language preservation or revitalization. This study falls under the category of sociolinguistics and focuses mainly on language retention and language attitudes.


Table of Contents


French Creole, Patois, Cedros, Linguistic retentions, Flora and Folk Medicine and Fauna, Festivals