Caribbean Tourism

Patois for Beginners

Until recently, Kweyol was not a written language but it has been developed to facilitate teaching.


For people interested in learning a few phrases of Créole, or Kweyol, there is a booklet, Visitors Guide to St Lucia Patois, available for EC$14 in bookshops, Valmont’s Book Salon on the corner of Jeremie and Laborie Streets by the Tourist Office, and Sunshine Books in Gablewoods Mall and Rodney Bay.

For the more ambitious reader there are traditional story booklets which explain a lot about country life. Short stories are written in a style a child can understand with an English translation at the back. Examples are Mwen Vin Wakonte Sa Ba’w (I am going to explain it to you), which has a tale for every letter of the alphabet about an animal starting with the same letter, or Se’kon Sa I Fèt (know how it is done), a book about farm life. These books, part of a series of 8 aimed at a St Lucian readership, are not available in shops. Contact the Summer Institute of Linguistics, Box 321, Vieux Fort, price around EC$5 each.

The Folk Research Centre (PO Box 514, Mount Pleasant, Castries, T4522279, F4517444, open Monday-Friday 0830-1630) preserves and documents the local culture and folklore and has published several books, a cassette (EC$30) and CD (EC$60): Musical Traditions of St Lucia. A Handbook for Writing Creole gives the main points and features, while a Dictionary of St Lucian Creole and Annou Di-Y an Kweyol, a collection of folk tales and expressions in Creole and English, accompany it well.

With thanks to Ulrike Krauss


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