Conflict around language

Comic book in Kreol
Excerpt from Zistoir Ze ek Melia lepok esklavaz, Morris 1834 (The Story of Ze and Melia During the Time of Slavery, Mauritius 1834). Comic book in Kreol.
Source: Published by Nelson Mandela Centre for African Culture, 2006

Mauritian Kreol is a language that developed between African slaves and French colonists in the early years of settlement. ‘Creole’ tends to refer to the people while ‘Kreol’ refers to the language. Kreol words come from French and other languages and sound like French but with a few marked differences. Kreol is still being formalised and while some Mauritians see it as slang rather than a proper language, linguists would disagree.

Traditionally, Kreol is used for rapid dissemination of information among islanders, but is not used for official purposes. English is the official language of Mauritius and French is widely learnt and used. Asian languages, such as Chinese, Hindi, Bhojpuri and Telegu, also form part of the linguistic mosaic.

When Mauritians began migrating to Australia, a person might have spoken French or Kreol in public, depending both on their level of education and on the situation. In Australia, Mauritians mostly agree that language is important to cultural heritage but the issue of French versus Kreol is still debated. Some think that Kreol is a unique part of Mauritian and Rodriguan heritage and endeavour to pass it on to the next generation; others believe French will be more useful to their children.

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Comic book in Kreol