A Case Study of the Lexical Retentions of French Creole in Beausejour, Diego Martin, Trinidad



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French Creole studies in Trinidad have attempted to explain the grammatical features. Different scholars have variously focused on the syntactic, morphological and phonological features of French Creole such as Goodman (1958). Even though, there have been attempts to create a table glossary of French Creole lexical items, there has been no attempt to explain the distribution and use of these lexical items in Trinidad. Additionally, there have been some studies that have focused on the language revitalization such as the factors necessary for the possible revival of the language, Ferreira and Holbrook (2002). While these studies are stimulating, they tend to focus on areas where French Creole is currently spoken. Still it is necessary to explore the idea of language revitalization in those areas where French Creole is not spoken as it is crucial to garner the support of the entire community. In this study, we would like to use a table glossary to describe the use and retention of French Creole terms in a non-French Creole speaking community. Additionally, their language attitudes will be explored and the implications this may have on any possible language planning initiatives aimed at the revitalization of French Creole in Trinidad. Once the language of Diego Martin, French Creole has largely been displaced. This is evidenced in other areas where French Creole is currently speaking. The number of French Creole speakers has decreased and continues to do so due mainly to the social mobility afforded to English. Furthermore, French Creole was once the language of many different domains, from Folklore to Folk Medicine, Flora to Carnival, in addition to Fauna. By exploring these domains that were once dominated by French Creole, we can determine the extent to which French Creole has died in a community. Moreover, the exploration of these attitudes in addition to the lexical retentions, can aid in the shaping of language planning initiatives in terms of whether there would be support from the community. This is a mixed methodology study consisting of interviews of fifteen persons living in Beausejour, Diego Martin. The sample was determined through first snowball sampling and then purposive sampling to ensure that the interviewees adhered to certain social variables such as age and gender. It was found that overall, Carnival and Folklore had the highest number of retentions, however there was variation according to age group. Also, the researcher found that the language attitudes of the respondents while positive suggested that few of the respondents would support a proposal for the teaching of French Creole whether in schools or as an activity in the community centre. This study, while it does not present any solutions, provides an overview of the current use of French Creole outside of the French Creole speech community. This provides a base for future researchers when determining the right method to be used in future language revitalization projects. In addition, the study provides a sample of the current use of certain French Creole terms as well as the language attitudes of a section of the population. Keywords: French Creole, Trinidad, language revitalization, language planning, lexical retentions


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