The History and Future of Patuá in Paria: Report on Initial Language Revitalization Efforts for French Creole in Venezuela (Short Note)



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Patuá of the Paria Peninsula of Venezuela, a variety of Lesser Antillean French-lexicon Creole, may be categorised as a dying variety, as its ethnolinguistic vitality appears to be relatively poor. This variety, like other minority varieties of French Creole in Latin America, is spoken primarily in a border area, namely the Trinidad-Venezuela Paria area. Other varieties in similar border situations include Haitian Creole spoken on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and Karipúna and Galibi-Marwono French-lexicon Creole spoken in Oiapoque, on the Brazilian side of the Oiapoque river border of French Guiana-Brazil. In Venezuela, French Creole is spoken in two areas—Güíria on the Paria peninsula (capital of the Valdéz municipality, Estado Sucre), and El Callao in Estado Bolívar to the south. Native speakers include elderly Venezuelans with ancestral ties but no immediate connection to the insular Caribbean, as well as Venezuelan children of recent migrants from Haiti and the Lesser Antilles. There is now growing interest in the language and culture of Venezuelan French Creole (VFC) speakers, on the part of descendants of these groups, as well as on the part of other citizens of Estados Sucre and Bolívar, and researchers. This preliminary paper seeks to explore the origins of the apparent renaissance and resurgence of this dying language variety, and to place it in the context of the French Creole language family of the Caribbean.


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Venezuela, French Creole, Patuá, Trinidad