Kwéyòl, Kéwòl, Patois, Patwa and French Creole is a French patois based on a mixture of African and French grammar, and a vocabulary of mostly French with some English and Spanish words.
If you are a social media junkie like me then you’ve probably noticed the many different spellings that we use for the same word in creole. Many of us on social media platforms like Facebook, use the language liberally, primarily for legibility reasons and to add um a little flavor to our posts. Every St.Lucian will perhaps concur that certain jokes, words and expressions are better spoken and enjoyed in our mother’s tongue-Kweyol.
But, speaking the language so openly and without “embarrassment” has not always been or perhaps still is the case. For many years there has been a sense of “shame” in speaking kweyol and many folks have expressed being forbidden to speak it in their formative years. In fact, Jn.Pierre in a 2003:28 report wrote, “Kwéyòl has been stigmatized, neglected and marginalized officially but the language has demonstrated a resilience that has ensured its survival regardless of the odds”.
Indeed, today it seems that those of us who have emigrated have developed a deeper appreciation and acceptance of the language. If truth be told, many have confessed to learning the language after leaving St.Lucia and to speaking it more regularly since being away from home.
In 2001, the Ministry of Education of St.Lucia obliged and published its first edition of the Creole dictionary “to meet the need for an authoritative, affordable reference guide on Creole,” they wrote. And so here at Manmay LaKay magazine and as proud St.Lucians, we are dedicated and committed to continuing the work that pioneers and creole language preservationists like Monsignor Patrick Anthony, the Folk Research Center and the Ministry of Education have started.
In keeping with the guidelines set out by the linguistic creed on language preservation, the onus is on us to perpetuate our mothers tongue. To pass on the knowledge to make our kwéyòl universally written, read, accepted and recognized.
The Linguistic Creed puts it this way: “As the most uniquely human characteristic a person has, a person’s language is associated with his self-image. Interest in and appreciation of a person’s language is tantamount to interest in and appreciation of the person himself.”