Creole Language Development

Kwéyòl, as spoken in St. Lucia, is unique despite the fact that it is easily understood by Creole speakers in Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guyana, Grenada and Dominica where there are varying degrees of difference. It plays a central role in local culture, religion, politics and economics and serves as an appropriate link for Creole speakers in the Americas and the Indian Ocean. (Jn Pierre, 2003:28)

There are several theories about the origins and development of kwéyòl but it is widely accepted that kwéyòl "evolved out of the need for Europeans, Africans and Amerindians to communicate in a language that was mutually accepted by and common to most" (Jn Pierre, 1993:8). It is dominated by a French-based lexicon although its grammar and 'the way it gives meaning to words and phrases' (FRC, 1992) is significantly influenced by West African languages.

There is a dearth of up-to-date data about kwéyòl yet, the Folk Research Centre (1992) asserts that, kwéyòl, known also as Kéwòl, Patois, Patwa and French Creole is spoken by 'at least 90% of all St. Lucians'.

Historically, according to Jn Pierre (2003:28), "kwéyòl has been stigmatized, neglected and marginalized officially but the language has demonstrated a resilience that has ensured its survival regardless the odds". Thus, kwéyòl "thrives in the St. Lucian community where French, the main language from which it drew its vocabulary is no longer alive" (FRC (1992:5).