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MAURITIUS EXPLORE
» 31 Jan 2013
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE MAURITIAN CREOLE-LANGUAGE?

HOW HAS IT BEEN FORMED?

This study focuses on the origin of words of the Mauritian-Creole-Language. We attempted to explain word-formation, examined how the Mauritian-Creole-Language could be written, considered its grammar-code, attempted a Mauritian-Creole-lexicography based on conversation-recordings.

We have looked at common Mauritian-Creole-Language-Expressions to help tourists learn and express themselves in Creole when they visit our Sun-blessed region. We proceeded by making recordings of the spoken language, analysed and observed conversational practice from different regions of Mauritius. We have compared with the Creole-language of Réunion, Seychelles, Martinique to analyse, draw similarities and differences regarding word-formation with our Mauritian-Creole-Language.

A careful analysis of common Creole-words enables us to observe a group of words which we can call «prosthetic-word». This is a class of words in which a consonant has been added at the beginning of a word. It is the addition of a sound to the original foreign language from which it has taken its origin. Prosthesis is not the mere addition of a prefix to a word. It does not alter the meaning of a word.

The word keeps the original meaning from its original foreign-language it is borrowed from but is to be written in a different way and the pronunciation changes. Lexicology-established from recordings revealed 70% of words take their origin from French language but have undergone an alteration. Addition of a consonant at the beginning of the word indicates Prosthesis (Table 1).

Table 1

FRENCHENGLISHCREOLE
CriseCrisisLakriz
BébéBabyTibébé/tibaba
EducationEducationLédikation
EspoirHopeLéspoir
ConditionConditionKicondition
SucreSugarDisik
ChaleurHeatLasalér
BoisWoodDiboi
BaladeGo for walkTibalad
CielSkyLésiél
BlâmeBlameMétblam
BoueMudLabou
BasDown/downsideParanba
FarineFlourLafarinn
Espérance/espoirHopeLéspérans/léspoir
CocoCoconutTicoco
CoquinSteal/Rob/CheatLikokin
Petite monnaieCoinsTicas
PapillionButterflyTipapion
BaiserKissTibézé
ChèreExpensiveTrosér
BourseStock-marketLabours
EmploiJobLanploi
JoliBeautifulBiénzoli
FilThreadDifil
SelSaltDisél
ThéTeaDité
BoutiqueShopLaboutik
FatigueTired/tirednessLafatig
PanneBreakdownGagn-pann
Rendez-vousAppointmentPran-randévou


Another perceptible word-group is «apocope». In this word-group in the Mauritian-Creole we have cut off from a word we have borrowed from French-language one sound at the end of a word. It is the loss of an unstressed vowel in the Mauritian-Creole-language. Examples: adorab/from adorable. Subject to modification at the end of the word gives: «apocope» (Table 2).

Table 2

FRENCHENGLISHCREOLE
DésordreDisorderDézord
DescendreGet-downDésann
DentisteDentistDantis
CadreFrameCad
DéfendreDefendDéfann
DurableSustainableDirab
SeptembreSeptemberSéptam
OctobreOctoberOctob
NovembreNovemberNovam
DécembreDecemberDésam
FamilleFamilyFami
FaibleWeakFaib
ExpliqueExplainExplik
DisputeDisputeDispit
FacileEasyFasil
MeubleFurnitureMéb
LettreLetterLét
SommeSumSom
TigreTigerTig
DisqueRecordDis


Another interesting word-group we can observe in the Mauritian-Creole-language is the loss of a sound at the beginning of a word. It is a process called «apheresis or aphesis» (Table 3).

Table 3

FRENCHENGLISHCREOLE
EntendreHearTann
EtoufferSuffocateToufé. Touf
EssayerTrySéyé
PetitSmall/TinyTi
Aujourd’huiTodayZordi
EcraserCrushKrasér


The loss of one sound from the interior of a word constitutes another word-group in the Mauritian-Creole-language. This group has been named «syncope» (Table 4).

Table 4

FRENCHENGLISHCREOLE
ParlementParliamentParlma
MatelasMattressMatla
LoterieLotteryLotri
LecteurReaderLéctér
MeubleFurnitureMéb
MonsieurMister/SirMisié
TraduireTranslateTradir
MoteurEngineMotér
MéthodeMethodMétod
TaquinerTeaseTakiné
NeufNineNéf
NeuvièmeNinthNéviém
FruitFruitFri
FuiteFitFit
BonhommeElderlyBonom


«Reiteration» or «doubling» is another word-group found in Mauritian-Creole-Language. It insists on an action that is taking place and emphasises a situation (Table 5).

Table 5

FRENCHENGLISHCREOLE
Très petitVery smallPiti-piti
Très joliReally beautifulZoli-zoli
Très rapideVery fast/SwiftRapid-rapid
Très doucementVery slowlyDousma-dousma
Très grandVery bigGran-gran
Très très viteVery very fastVit-vit
Être Côte à côteCome very nearKosté-kosté
Un petit peuA small quantityTigit-tigit
BavarderChatBlag-blagué
Très faibleVery weakFéb-féb
Très pauvreVery poorMisér-misér
Tenir le maximumHold a maximumTini-tini
Plaindre beaucoupComplaining a lotPlaign-plaingné
Attendre longtempsWaiting very longAtann-atann
Venir souventCome very oftenVinn-vini


A short conclusion we can draw: the origin of our Mauritian-Creole-Language is mostly from French-words that have undergone a modification. Five types of linguistic alterations-modifications have been observed and briefly described regarding word-formation: prosthesis, apocope, apheresis, syncope and reiteration-doubling. Our conversation-recordings while enabling a short-lexicon, not included here have revealed this fact.

Article by Nicolas Ghanty

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