Working Papers in Educational Linguistics (WPEL)




This paper is a study of language contact between French Creole and English on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. Although much of the discussion is related to grammatical questions, the implications go beyond issues in descriptive linguistics. The nature of English-Creole contact is an important question for St. Lucian education and social life in general, especially given the increased promotion of Creole as a medium of contact between the St. Lucian government and people, and the possibilities of the future use of Creole as a medium of education and literacy. The study gives some evidence that English-Creole contact in St. Lucia is a phenomenon that may provide one of the mechanisms for the use of St. Lucian Creole (SLC) as an official or literary language, as demonstrated by the speech of St. Lucians in official and literary settings. The first part of the paper outlines the material and social history of the island as it relates to the language situation, particularly to forms of English- Creole contact. The second part reviews some models of language contact phenomena developed by linguists in the past several years, and describes some terminology taken from a study of a socially analagous situation on the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica. The third part is a discussion of some material from Creole texts which were recorded in St. Lucia in official or literary settings, and a description of some of the formal aspects of English-Creole contact, specifically English interference loans in Creole discourse. By way of conclusion, the paper discusses problems of language development raised by St. Lucian language planners and educators, as they relate to the phenomena described in the study.