Saint Lucian Creole

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Saint Lucian Creole
kwéyòl, patwa
Native toSaint Lucia
Native speakers
160,000 (2001)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
acf – Saint Lucian Creole French[2][3]
scf – San Miguel Creole French

Saint Lucian Creole French (Kwéyòl) [kwejɔl], known locally as Patwa, is a French-based creole, which is the generally spoken language in Saint Lucia.


It is a subvariety of Antillean Creole, which is spoken in other islands of the Lesser Antilles and is very closely related to the varieties spoken in Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago. The intelligibility rate with speakers of other varieties of Antillean Creole is almost 100%. Its syntactic, grammatical and lexical features are virtually identical to that of Martinican Creole, but like its Dominican counterpart, it includes more English loanwords than the Martinican variety.

Like the other Caribbean Creoles, Saint Lucian French Creole combines a syntax of African and Carib origin with a vocabulary derived primarily from French.[citation needed] In addition, many expressions reflect the presence of an English Creole and Spanish influences in the language.[citation needed] It is not considered to be mutually intelligible with Standard French, but it is intelligible with the other French creoles of the Lesser Antilles. It is related to Haitian Creole, which has a number of distinctive features, but both are still mutually intelligible.

It is still widely spoken in Saint Lucia, but the actual number of speakers appears to have declined in the past decades. In the mid-19th century it was exported to Panama, where it is known as San Miguel Creole French and is now moribund.[citation needed]


The Kwéyol writing system contains 24 letters, representing 32 phonemes. This writing system used in St.Lucia and Dominica differs slightly from that used in Guadeloupe and Martinique. The letters Q and X are not used and the letter R only appears in English loan words. The letters C and U never appear alone and are always part of the digraphs Ch and Ou.


These are combinations of letters which represent one sound.

An En On represent the three nasal vowels /ã/, /ẽ/, /õ/ respectively.

Ch Dj Ng Tj represent the consonants /ʃ/, /d͡ʒ/, /ŋ/, /t͡ʃ/.

Ou represents the vowel /u/.

Letter Phoneme Letter Phoneme
A a a M m m
An an ã N n n
B b b Ng ng ŋ
Ch ch ʃ O o o
D d d Ò ò ɔ
Dj dj d͡ʒ On on õ
É é e Ou ou u
È è ɛ P p p
En en R r ɹ
F f f S s s
G g ɡ T t t
H h h Tj tj t͡ʃ
I i i V v v
J j ʒ W w w
K k k Y y j
L l l Z z z



Labial Alveolar Post-


Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ


voiceless p t t͡ʃ k
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced v z ʒ
Approximant l ɹ1 j w2

1. This sound only occurs in a select few loan words from English ex. radyo /ɹadjo/ radio.

2. Slu Creole lacks the uvular r /ʁ/ present in other varieties of Antillean Creole such as Guadeloupean Creole. Where this sound would occur Slu Creole instead uses /w/; Marie /maˈʁi/ (Guadeloupean), /maˈwi/ (St.Lucian).


Personal Pronouns

Kwéyol Weak Form English
an, mwen - I, me
ou w you
i, li y he, she, it
nou - we, us
zòt, zò, hòt, hò - you (plural)
yo - they, them

Kwéyòl makes no distinction in case in its pronouns like in English so 'mwen' can mean I, me, or my.

The pronouns above can be used as a sentence subject; mwen ka palé kwéyòl, object: nonm-lan bo'y or as possessives: papa yo malad.

The weak forms occur after vowels: palé ba'y! mwen wè'w.


Nouns in Kwéyòl are invariable, they do not inflect for case or number. There is no grammatical gender, unlike French.

The plural is indicated by the prefix 'sé'

timoun-la the child

-timoun-la the children


Adjectives, like nouns, are invariable. They follow then noun. There exist certain adjective which tend to precede the noun

on chimiz blé a blue shirt


on gwo kay a big house


The indefinite article is 'on' or 'an'. It precedes the noun.

The definite article may take the form -a, -la, -an, or -lan depending on the sounds of the final syllable of the noun it qualifies. It comes after the noun.

latè a

tab la

mouton an

nonm lan

Oral vowel Nasal vowel
Vowel ending -a .-an
Consonant ending -la -lan


The Vocabulary of LC is mostly derived from French with important contributions from English and West African languages.

Creole English New Meaning Creole English New Meaning
bol ball ball, cricket switi sweetie


chéd shade shelter, shed taks tax
chlen shilling 25 cents tanmadòz tomatoe
ti bway boy taya tire
layt light tép tape
misték mistake titj teach
motoka car titja teacher
pennsil pencil penis tiyéta theatre
pitj pitch to pave with asphalt tjiki cheeky nosy, inquisitive
radyo radio tou too
rèkòd record trakta tractor
roro row


tròk truck
sayd side waya wire
swing swing yis yeast

External Links[edit]


  1. ^ Saint Lucian Creole French (Saint Lucia) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Ethnologue code for Saint Lucian Creole French (spoken in Dominica and Saint Lucia) with the ISO 639-3 code: acf. However, it notes that their rate of comprehension is 90%, which would qualify them as dialects of a single language.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Saint Lucian Creole French". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.