Mauritian Creole

Mauritian Creole
kreol, créole
Native to Mauritius
Native speakers
1,070,000 (2011)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 mfe
Glottolog mori1278[1]


(to 51-AAC-cee)

Mauritian Creole or Morisyen (Mauritian Creole: kreol morisien) is a French-based creole language spoken in Mauritius. In addition to the French base of the language, there are also a number of words from English and from the many African and South Asian languages that have been spoken on the island.

Sociolinguistic situation

Mauritian creole is the lingua franca of Mauritius. Mauritius, formerly a British colony, has kept English as its official language, although French is more widely spoken. Mauritians tend to speak Creole at home and French in the workplace. French and English are spoken in schools. Though a large percentage of Mauritians are of Indian descent, they primarily speak Creole, which is their ancestral tongue in the sense that their ancestors along with those of African, European and Chinese descent helped create the creole language together centuries ago, when Mauritius was the meeting place of peoples from different continents who together founded a nation with its own culture and history. Today, around 1 million people speak the language.


Mauritian creole is a French-based creole language, closely related to Seychellois Creole, Rodriguan Creole and Chagossian Creole. The language's relationship to other French-based creole languages besides these is controversial. Robert Chaudenson (2001) and Henri Wittmann (1972, 1987, etc.) have argued that Mauritian creole is closely related to Réunion Creole, while Philip Baker and Chris Corne (1982), on the other hand, have argued that Réunion influence on Mauritian was minimal and that the two languages are barely more similar to one another than they are to other French-based creoles.


Main article: History of Mauritius

Although the Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit Mauritius, they did not settle there. The small Portuguese element in the vocabulary of Mauritian creole derives rather from the Portuguese element in European maritime jargons (such as Sabir and Lingua Franca) or from enslaved Africans or Asians who came from areas where Portuguese was used as a trade language. Similarly, while the Dutch had a colony on Mauritius between 1638 and 1710, all the Dutch settlers evacuated the island to Réunion, leaving behind only a few runaway slaves who would have no discernible impact on Mauritian creole. The French then claimed Mauritius and first settled it between 1715 and 1721.

As they had done on Réunion and in the West Indies, the French created on Mauritius a plantation economy based on slave labor. Slaves became a majority of the population of Mauritius by 1730, and were 85% of the population by 1777. These forced migrants came from West Africa, East Africa, Madagascar, and India.[2] Given the resulting linguistic fragmentation, French became the lingua franca among the slaves. However, the small size of the native French population on the island, their aloofness from most of their slaves, and the lack of formal education for slaves ensured that the slaves' French would develop in very different directions from the slaveowners' French. Historical documents from as early as 1773 already speak of the "creole language" that the slaves spoke.

The British took over Mauritius during the Napoleonic era, but few English-speakers ever settled there and by then Mauritian creole was firmly entrenched. The abolition of slavery in the 1830s enabled many Mauritian creoles to leave the plantations, and the plantation owners started bringing in Indian indentured workers to replace them. Though the Indians soon became, and remain, a majority on the island, their own linguistic fragmentation and alienation from the English- and French-speaking white elite led them to take up Mauritian creole as their main lingua franca. English and French have long enjoyed greater social status and dominated government, business, education, and the media, but Mauritian creole's popularity in most informal domains has persisted.

Phonology and orthography

The phonology of Mauritian creole is very similar to that of French. However, standard French /ʃ/ and /ʒ/ have depalatalized to /s/ and /z/ respectively in Mauritian, and the front vowels /y/ and /ø/ lost their roundedness and became /i/ and /e/ respectively.[3]

The language has several published dictionaries, both monolingual and bilingual, written by authors such as Philip Baker (1987), the group "Ledikasyon pu travayer," and Arnaud Carpooran (2005, 2009, 2011), among others. The number of publications in creole is increasing steadily; however, the orthographies used in these works vary wildly.

The Mauritian government began supporting an orthographic reform in 2011, with a system that generally follows French, but eliminates silent letters and reduces the number of different ways in which the same sound can be written. This was codified in the Lortograf Kreol Morisien (2011) and used in the Gramer Kreol Morisien (2012) as well. It has become standard upon its adoption by the second edition of the Diksioner Morisien (which previously had been spelled as the Diksyoner Morisyen).[4]



Examples shown are in Mauritian Creole and French only.

Number Mauritian Creole French Number Mauritian Creole French
0 Zero Zéro 20 Vin Vingt
1 Enn Un/Une 21 Vint-e-enn Vingt et un
2 De Deux 22 Vennde Vingt-deux
3 Trwa Trois 23 Venntrwa Vingt-trois
4 Kat Quatre 24 Vennkat Vingt-quatre
5 Sink Cinq 25 Vennsink Vingt-cinq
6 Sis Six 26 Vennsis Vingt-six
7 Set Sept 27 Vennset Vingt-sept
8 Wit Huit 28 Vintwit Vingt-huit
9 Nef Neuf 29 Vintnef Vingt-neuf
10 Dis Dix 30 Trant Trente
11 Onz Onze 40 Karant Quarante
12 Douz Douze 50 Sinkant Cinquante
13 Trez Treize 60 Swasant Soixante
14 Katorz Quatorze 70 Swasann-dis Soixante-dix
15 Kinz Quinze 80 Katrovin Quatre-vingts
16 Sez Seize 90 Katrovin-dis Quatre-vingt-dix
17 Diset Dix-sept 100 San Cent
18 Dizwit Dix-huit 1000 Mil Mille
19 Diznef Dix-neuf 1000000 Enn milion Un million

Personal pronouns

Examples shown are in English, Mauritian Creole and French respectively.

English Mauritian Creole French
I Mo Je
Me Mwa Moi
You (informal) To (Twa) Tu (Toi)
You (formal) Ou Vous
He/She/It Li Il/Elle/On
We Nou Nous
You (plural) Zot Vous
They Bannla Ils/Elles


English Mauritian Creole French
In front (of) Devan Devant
Before Avan Avant
Behind Deryer Derrière
Over there Laba Là-bas
Right Drwat Droit
Left Gos Gauche
(To the) right Adrwat À droite
(To the) left Agos À gauche
Above Lao Sur (là-haut)
Below Anba Sous (en-bas)
Next to Akote À côté
Outside Deor Dehors
Inside Andan Dedans


While most of the words in Mauritian creole share a common origin with French, they are not always used in the same way. For example, the French definite article "le/la" is often fused with the noun it modifies. Thus French "rat" is Mauritian "lera," French "temps" is Mauritian "letan." The same is true for some adjectives and prepositions, for example, "femme" and "riz" in French and "bonnfam" (from "bonne femme") and "diri" (from "du riz") in Mauritian. Some words have changed their meanings altogether, like "gagn" (meaning "to get" or "to obtain" in Mauritian), which is derived from "gagner" ("to win", or "to earn", in French)

Other words come from either Portuguese or Spanish, such as "lakaz" from "(la) casa".

There are also several loan words from the languages of the African Malagasy slaves contributed such words as Mauritian "lapang," Malagasy "ampango" (rice stuck to the bottom of a pot); Mauritian "lafus," Malagasy "hafotsa" (a kind of tree); Mauritian "zahtak," Malagasy "antaka" (a kind of plant). Note that in these cases, as with some of the nouns from French, that the modern Mauritian word has fused with the French article "le/la/les." Words of East African origin include Mauritian "makutu," Makua "makhwatta" (running sore); Mauritian "matak," Swahili and Makonde "matako" (buttock).

Recent loan words tend to come from English, such as "map" instead of plan or carte in French (Plan or Kart in Mauritian Creole) and "delete" rather than French word supprimer(Siprime in Mauritian Creole) and many more. English words used in Mauritian Creole retain their English spelling but should be written in-between inverted commas.

Morphology and syntax[5]

Mauritian creole nouns do not change their form when they are pluralized. Thus, whether a noun is singular or plural can usually only be determined by context. If an unambiguous marker is needed, the particle "ban" (from "bande") is often placed before the noun. French "un/une" corresponds to Mauritian "enn," though the rules for its use are slightly different. Mauritian has an article, "la," but this is placed after the noun it modifies: compare Fr. "un rat," "ce rat" or "le rat," "les rats," Mauritian "enn lera," "lera-la," "bann lera."

In Mauritian creole there is only one form for each pronoun, regardless of whether it is the subject, object, or possessive, regardless of gender. Mauritian creole "li" can thus be translated as he, she, it, him, his, her, or hers, depending upon how it is used in any particular instance.

Like nouns, Mauritian creole verbs do not change their form according to tense or person. Instead, the accompanying noun or pronoun is used to determine who is engaging in the action, and several preverbal particles are used alone or in combination to indicate the tense. Thus "ti" (from Fr. "étais") marks past tense, "pe"-shortened form of "ape", which is rarely used now- (from "après" as Québec French) marks progressive, "(f)inn" (from Fr. "fini") marks completive or perfect, and "pou" or sometimes "va" or "ava" (from Fr. "va") marks future. Example: "li finn gagn" (he/she/it had), which can also be shortened to "linn gagn" and pronounced as if it is one word. The Réunion version is li té fine gagne for past, li té i gagne for past progressive, and li sava gagne for present progressive or a close future.

Lord's Prayer

Mauritian Creole French Gallicized orthography English
Nou Papa ki dan lesiel

Fer rekonet ki to nom sin,
Fer ki to regn vini,
Fer to volonte akonpli,
Lor later kouma dan lesiel.
Donn nou azordi dipin ki nou bizin.
Pardonn nou, nou bann ofans,
Kouma nou ousi pardonn lezot ki finn ofans nou.
Pa les nou tom dan tantasion
Me tir nou depi lemal.

Notre Père qui est aux cieux,

Que ton Nom soit sanctifié,
Que ton règne vienne,
Que ta volonté soit faite
Sur la terre comme au ciel.
Donne-nous aujourd'hui notre pain de ce jour.
Pardonne-nous nos offenses,
Comme nous pardonnons aussi à ceux qui nous ont offensés.
Et ne nous soumet pas à la tentation,
Mais délivre-nous du mal.

Nous Papa qui dans le-ciel,

Faire reconnait(re) que ton nom saint,
Faire que ton règne veine,
Faire ta volonté accompli
Sur la-terre comment dans le-ciel.
Donne-nous aujourd'hui du pain que nous besoin.
Pardonne-nous nous nos offenses,
Comment nous aussi pardonne les-aut(res) qui a offense nous.
Pas laisse nous tom(be) dans tentation,
Mais tire-nous depuis le-mal.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

See also


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Morisyen". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Auguste Toussaint, Histoire de l'île Maurice, Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1971.
  3. Baker, Philip (1972). Kreol. A description of Mauritian creole. Hurst.
  4. Online edition of "Le Mauricien" on second edition of Diksioner kreol morisien (French)
  5. Corne (1970, 1988), Carpooran (2007), Wittmann (1972); on the subject of the characteristic article incorporation,the agglutination to the noun of an erstwhile article (in French), see Standquist (2005), Wittmann & Fournier (1981).
Mauritian Creole test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator


This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/2/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.