Reunion Creole

Reunion Creole is a French-based creole language spoken by about 90 percent of a population of more than 800,000 people on Reunion Island, a French Overseas Department, and by a considerable number of diaspora speakers in metropolitan France. Most speakers are bilingual in Creole and French, although some of them are ‘passive bilinguals’ who understand French, but only have a limited active command. The traditional situation of diglossia with Creole as the ‘low variety’ is gradually changing towards a “bilinguisme français–créole harmonieux”. Creole has been used by poets and novelists since the nineteenth century; in 2000 it gained official recognition as a regional language, and in 2002 it found its place in education as an optional subject in secondary schools. Reunion Creole is unique among French-based creoles in forming a continuum from basilect to acrolect, with intermediate fluctuating varieties. The default lect chosen for description in APiCS comprises basilectal varieties; variants from acrolectal varieties are occasionally mentioned. Data are taken from the Atlas linguistique et ethnographique de la Réunion (1984-1995), collected between 1975 and 1981 from mostly 40 to 80 year old speakers, as well as from recordings of extensive conversations and traditional stories made with some of the informants of the Atlas during field work.

Acknowledgements

I am very grateful to Axel Gauvin for providing detailed information on the sociolinguistic situation in Reunion and on the extremely complex lectal variation which characterizes Reunion Creole.

No. Feature Value % Details Source
No. Feature Value % Details Source

Consonants

bilabial
labiodental
dental
dental/alveolar
dental/alveolar
affricate
palato-alveolar
retroflex
palatal
velar
labial-velar
uvular
glottal
plosive/affricatepbtdt͡sd͡zt͡ʃd͡ʒʈɖcɟkgk͡pg͡bqʔ
aspirated plosive/affricatet͡sʰt͡ʃʰ
glottalized stop/affricateɓt͡sʼt͡ʃʼ
nasalmnɳɲŋ
trill, tap or flaprɾ
fricativeɸβfvθðszʃʒxɣχh
lateral/approximantɬlɭjw

Vowels

frontnear-frontcentralnear-backback
high
higher-mid
mid
lower-mid
low

Special segments

øhigher mid front rounded oral vowel - Exists only as a minor allophone
œlower mid front rounded oral vowel - Exists only as a minor allophone
ʁvoiced uvular fricative - Exists (as a major allophone)
œ̃nasalized lower mid front rounded vowel - Exists only as a minor allophone
ɥvoiced labiopalatal glide - Exists (as a major allophone)

Legend

 Exists (as a major allophone)
 Exists only as a minor allophone
 Exists only in loanwords
 Does not exist
No. Feature Value % Details Source