Courtesy of our guest blogger, Jeremy.
I’ve always wondered about French-based créole. How did it develop and how has it evolved? Where is it spoken and what similarities does it share with normal French?
Of course, this French blog won’t be able to cover exhaustive answers to such open-ended questions, but it can provide you with some lesser-known yet salient facts. For example, did you know there are multiple varieties of French-based creole languages? After the earthquake that rattled Haiti around the country’s epicenter and capital, Port-au-Prince, more became aware that Haitian Creole is the most widely spoken French-derived language in the world with 13 million speakers.
Creole contains a vocabulary with cognates rooting themselves in parent languages. This is why the grammar and pronunciation of Haitian creole appears to be peppered with multiple phonetic parallels and similar semantic flavorings of modern-day French. Creole is therefore a pidgin language because it was born in a simplified context as a means of communication between groups forced to speak disparate dialects or linguistic patterns. The French have actually employed the term patois (Old French for “to handle clumsily, to paw at) to describe pidgin languages like creole because it appears that its speakers were quite awkward in edifying their new linguistic fabric.
French creole sprouted from French colonial soil, which is why it is the most widespread of all creoles. As they built harbors to support trade triangle traffic and new communities, native inhabitants as well as imported slaves were forced to “clumsily handle” spoken interactions. This is why Haitian creole has woven French, African, and Amerindian substrates together with several English and Spanish ingredients. It is no wonder that French Guiana Creole, Reúnion Creole, Seychellois Creole, Rodriguan Creole, Antillean Creole, Karipúna Creole, Mauritian Creole, Agalega Creole, Chagossian Creole, and other African- and Indian Ocean-bred permutations of creole have conformed to strikingly similar patterns.
How difficult is it to speak? Well, you can decide for yourself by taking a look at Haitian Creole colors here:
How else can I entertain your appetite? Well, apparently French-based creole is also spoken throughout southern Louisiana. It just seems like the French were everywhere just a few short centuries ago!