Patois (/ˈpætwɑː/, pl. same or /ˈpætwɑːz/)[1] is speech or language that is considered nonstandard, although the term is not formally defined in linguistics. As such, patois can refer to pidgins, creoles, dialects, or vernaculars, but not commonly to jargon or slang, which are vocabulary-based forms of cant.

In colloquial usage of the term, especially in France, class distinctions are implied by the very meaning of the term, since in French, patois refers to any sociolect associated with uneducated rural classes, in contrast with the dominant prestige language (Standard French) spoken by the middle and high classes of cities, or as used in literature and formal settings (the 'acrolect').


The term patois comes from Old French: patois, "local or regional dialect"[1] (earlier "rough, clumsy, or uncultivated speech"), possibly from the verb patoier, "to treat roughly", from pate "paw",[2] from Old Low Franconian *patta paw, "sole of the foot" + -ois, a pejorative suffix. The language sense may have arisen from the notion of a clumsy or rough manner of speaking.


In France and other Francophone countries, patois has been used to describe non-standard French and regional languages such as Picard, Occitan, and Franco-Provençal, since 1643, and Catalan after 1700, when the king Louis XIV banned its use.[3] The word assumes the view of such languages being backward, countrified, and unlettered, thus is considered by speakers of those languages as offensive when used by outsiders. Jean Jaurès said "one names patois the language of a defeated nation".[4]

Many of the vernacular forms of English spoken in the Caribbean are also referred to as patois. It is noted especially in reference to Jamaican Patois from 1934. Jamaican Patois language comprises words of the native languages of the many ethnic and cultural groups within the Caribbean including Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Amerindian, and English along with several African languages. Some islands have creole dialects influenced by their linguistic diversity; French, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, German, Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and others. Patois are also spoken in Costa Rica and Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Guyana in South America.

Often these patois are popularly considered 'broken English', or slang, but cases such as Jamaican Patois are classified with more correctness as a creole language; in fact, in the Francophone Caribbean the analogous term for local basilectal languages is créole (see also Jamaican English and Jamaican Creole). Antillean creole, spoken on several present or formerly French islands of the Lesser Antilles, includes vocabulary and grammar of African and Carib origin, in addition to French. It dialects often contain folk-etymological derivatives of French words, for example lavier ("river, stream") which is a syncopated variant of the standard French phrase la rivière ("the river") but has been identified by folk etymology with laver, "to wash"; therefore lavier is interpreted to mean "a place to wash" (since such streams are often used for washing laundry).

Other examples of patois include Trasianka, Sheng, and Tsotsitaal. Patois has also been spoken for some Uruguay citizens, generally immigrants located in the south of Uruguay, mainly arriving from Italy and France, coming from Piedmont.[5]


Dominican, Grenadian, St. Lucian, Trinidadian and Venezuelan speakers of Antillean Creole call the language patois. It is also named Patuá in the Paria Peninsula of Venezuela, and spoken since the eighteenth century by self-colonization of French people (from Corsica) and Caribbean people (from Martinique, Saint Thomas, Trinidad, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic) who moved for cacao production.

Macanese Patois is also known as Patuá, and was originally spoken by the Macanese community of the former Portuguese colony of Macau.


  1. ^ a b "patois". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ "patois". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  3. ^ "Interdiction de la langue catalane, Louis XIV". (in French). Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  4. ^ Billon, Robert L.E. (April 2000). "Do you speak french? A new "Common Vector"". Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  5. ^ Barrios, Graciela (2008). "Etnicidad y Lenguaje: La aculturación sociolingüística de los inmigrantes italianos en Motevideo" [Ethnicity and Language [variety]: The sociolinguistic acculturation of Italian immigrants in Montevideo] (PDF). Portal de la Universidad de la República - UCUR (in Spanish). Universidad de la República (Uruguay). Retrieved 2019-01-17.

Black-Jamaicans are Jamaicans of full or partial Black African descent. The first Africans that were brought came in 1513 from the Iberian Peninsula. When the English captured Jamaica in 1655, many of them fought with the Spanish, who gave them their freedom, and then fled to the mountains, resisting the British for many years to maintain their freedom, becoming known as Maroons. The British brought with them mostly Akan slaves, some of which ran away and joined with Maroons and even took over as leaders.

Antillean Creole

Antillean Creole is a French-based creole, which is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles. Its grammar and vocabulary include elements of Carib and African languages.Antillean Creole is related to Haitian Creole but has a number of distinctive features; however, they are mutually intelligible. The language was formerly more widely spoken in the Lesser Antilles, but its number of speakers is declining in Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. While the islands of Dominica and Saint Lucia are officially English-speaking, there are efforts to preserve the use of Antillean Creole, as well as in Trinidad and Tobago and its neighbour, Venezuela. In recent decades, Creole has gone from being seen as a sign of lower socio-economic status, banned in school playgrounds, to a mark of national pride.

Since the 1970s, there has been a literary revival of Creole in the French-speaking islands of the Lesser Antilles, with writers such as Raphaël Confiant and Monchoachi employing the language. Édouard Glissant has written theoretically and poetically about its significance and its history.

Antillean Creole is spoken natively, to varying degrees, in Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Îles des Saintes, Martinique, Saint-Barthélemy (St. Barts), Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, French Guiana, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela (mainly in Macuro, Güiria and El Callao Municipality). Dominican, Grenadian, St. Lucian, Trinidadian, Brazilian (Lanc-Patuá) and Venezuelan speakers of Antillean Creole call the language patois. It is also spoken in various Creole-speaking immigrant communities in the United States Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, and the island of Saint Martin.

Antillean Creole has approximately 1 million speakers and is a means of communication for migrant populations traveling between neighbouring English- and French-speaking territories.

Bocas del Toro Creole

Bocas del Toro Patois, or Panamanian Patois English, is a dialect of Jamaican Patois spoken in Bocas del Toro Province, Panama. Bocas del Toro Patois is a dialect of Jamaican Patois similar to Central American varieties such as Limón Coastal Patois. It does not have the status of an official language. It was pejoratively known as "guari-guari."

Creole language

A creole language, or simply creole, is a stable natural language that develops from the simplifying and mixing of different languages at a fairly sudden point in time: often, a pidgin transitioned into a full-fledged language. While the concept is similar to that of a mixed or hybrid language, a creole is often additionally defined as being highly simplified when compared to its parent languages. However, a creole is still complex enough that it has a consistent system of grammar, possesses a large stable vocabulary, and is acquired by children as their native language, all of which distinguishes a creole language from a pidgin.

The precise number of creole languages is not known, particularly as many are poorly attested or documented. About one hundred creole languages have arisen since 1500. These are predominantly based on European languages such as English and French due to the European Age of Discovery and the Atlantic slave trade that arose at that time. With the improvements in ship-building and navigation, traders had to learn to communicate with people around the world, and the quickest way to do this was to develop a pidgin, or simplified language suited to the purpose; in turn, full creole languages developed from these pidgins. In addition to creoles that have European languages as their base, there are, for example, creoles based on Arabic, Chinese, and Malay. The creole with the largest number of speakers is Haitian Creole, with almost ten million native speakers, followed by Tok Pisin with about 4 million, most of whom are second-language speakers.

The lexicon (or, roughly, the base or essential vocabulary – such as "say" but not "said, tell, told") of a creole language is largely supplied by the parent languages, particularly that of the most dominant group in the social context of the creole's construction. However, there are often clear phonetic and semantic shifts. On the other hand, the grammar that has evolved often has new or unique features that differ substantially from those of the parent languages.

Dub music

Dub is a genre of electronic music that grew out of reggae in the 1960s, and is commonly considered a subgenre, though it has developed to extend beyond the scope of reggae. The style consists predominantly of instrumental remixes of existing recordings and is achieved by significantly manipulating and reshaping the recordings, usually through the removal of vocals, emphasis of the rhythm section (the stripped-down drum-and-bass track is sometimes referred to as a riddim), the application of studio effects such as echo and reverb, and the occasional dubbing of vocal or instrumental snippets from the original version or other works. It was an early form of popular electronic music.Dub was pioneered by producers such as Osbourne "King Tubby" Ruddock, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Errol Thompson and others in the late 1960s. Augustus Pablo is credited with bringing the melodica to dub, and is also among the pioneers and creators of the genre. Similar experiments with recordings at the mixing desk outside the dancehall environment were also done by producers Clive Chin and Herman Chin Loy. These producers, especially Ruddock and Perry, looked upon the mixing console as an instrument, manipulating tracks to come up with something new and different. The Roland Space Echo was widely used by dub producers in the 1970s to produce echo and delay effects.Dub has influenced many genres of music, including rock (most significantly the subgenre of post-punk and other kinds of punk), pop, hip hop, disco, and later house, techno, ambient, electronic dance music, and trip hop. Dub has become a basis for the genres of jungle and drum and bass Traditional dub has survived, and some of the originators, such as Lee "Scratch" Perry and Mad Professor, continue to produce new material.

Franco-Provençal language

Franco-Provençal (also Francoprovençal or Arpitan) is a dialect group within Gallo-Romance spoken in east-central France, western Switzerland, northwestern Italy, and in enclaves in the Province of Foggia in Apulia, Italy.

Franco-Provençal has several distinct dialects and is separate from but closely related to neighboring Romance dialects (the langues d'oïl and Occitan, Rhaeto-Romance, Lombard, Piedmontese).The designation Franco-Provençal (Franco-Provençal: francoprovençâl; French: francoprovençal; Italian: francoprovenzale) dates to the 19th century. Traditionally, the dialect group is also referred to as patois

(patouès), and since the late 20th century as Arpitan (Franco-Provençal: arpetan; Italian: arpitano), and its areal as Arpitania.Formerly spoken throughout the territory of Savoy, Franco-Provençal speakers are now found in the Aosta Valley, an autonomous administrative division of Italy.

The language is also spoken in alpine valleys in the Metropolitan City of Turin, two isolated towns (Faeto and Celle di San Vito) in the Province of Foggia, and rural areas of the Swiss Romandie.

It is one of the three Gallo-Romance language families of France and is officially recognized as a regional language of France, but its use is marginal. Organizations are attempting to preserve it through cultural events, education, scholarly research, and publishing.

Aside from regional French dialects (the Langues d'oïl), it is the most closely related language to French. The number of speakers of Franco-Provençal has been declining significantly. According to UNESCO (1995), Franco-Provençal is a "potentially endangered language" in Italy and an "endangered language" in Switzerland and France.

Grenadian Creole French

Grenadian Creole is a variety of Antillean Creole. In Grenada and among Grenadians, it is referred to as Patois.


Iyaric, Livalect, Dread-talk or I-talk is a consciously created dialect of English in use among members of the Rastafari movement. African languages were lost among Africans when they were taken into captivity as part of the slave trade, and adherents of Rastafari teachings believe that English is an imposed colonial language. Their remedy for this situation has been the creation of a modified vocabulary and dialect, reflecting a desire to take language forward and to confront what they see as the confusion of a corrupt and decadent society they call Babylon. This is accomplished by avoiding words and syllables seen as negative, such as "back", and changing them to positive ones.

Some if not most Rastas choose not to use certain words in the English language as they have Babylonian and devil-like connotations. For example, the word "hello" is not used because they see it as containing the words "hell" and "lo" (i.e., "low"). Instead, expressions such as 'wa gwaan', 'yes I' and 'cool nuh Iyah' are used because they uplift people. If at a Rastafari church, they would use their formal church greetings. For instance, the Rastafari branch known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel would say, "Greetings in that Most Precious and Divine Name of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who has revealed Himself through the wonderful personality of H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie the 1st of Ethiopia"Iyaric is sometimes also referred to as Wordsound — a name derived from the Rastafari principle of "Word, Sound and Power", which several scholars have compared to West African concepts regarding a power or essence being encapsulated within the pronounced sound of a name or word. Iyaric sometimes also plays a liturgical role among Rastafari, in addition to Amharic and Ge'ez.


Jamaican may refer to:

Jamaican Patois, an English-based creole language

Jamaican English, a variety of English spoken in Jamaica

Something or someone of, from, or related to the country of Jamaica

For information about the Jamaican people, see Demographics of Jamaica and Jamaicans

Culture of Jamaica

Jamaican cuisine

Jamaican English

Jamaican English, which includes Jamaican Standard English, is a variety of English native to Jamaica. A distinction exists between Jamaican English and Jamaican Patois (or Creole), though not entirely a sharp distinction so much as a gradual continuum between two extremes. Jamaican English tends to follow British English spelling conventions.

Jamaican Patois

Jamaican Patois, known locally as Patois (Patwa or Patwah) and called Jamaican Creole by linguists, is an English-based creole language with West African influences (a majority of loan words of Akan origin) spoken primarily in Jamaica and the Jamaican diaspora; it is spoken by the majority of Jamaicans as a native language. Patois developed in the 17th century, when slaves from West and Central Africa were exposed to, learned and nativized the vernacular and dialectal forms of English spoken by the slaveholders: British English, Scots and Hiberno-English. Jamaican Creole exhibits a gradation between more conservative creole forms that are not significantly mutually intelligible with English, and forms virtually identical to Standard English.Jamaicans refer to their language as patois. The term patois comes from Old French, patois "local or regional dialect" (earlier "rough, clumsy, or uncultivated speech"), possibly from the verb patoier, "to treat roughly", from patte "paw", from Old Low Franconian *patta "paw, sole of the foot" + -ois, a pejorative suffix. The term may have arisen from the notion of a clumsy or rough manner of speaking. Linguists refer to the language as a creole. Creoles are often stigmatized as the "lesser" language even though the majority of the population speaks Jamaican Creole as their mother tongue.Jamaican pronunciation and vocabulary are significantly different from English, despite heavy use of English words or derivatives, but their writing system shows commonalities with the English alphabet.Significant Jamaican Patois-speaking communities exist among Jamaican expatriates in Miami, New York City, Toronto, Hartford, Washington, D.C., Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama (in the Caribbean coast), also London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Nottingham. A mutually intelligible variety is found in San Andrés y Providencia Islands, Colombia, brought to the island by descendants of Jamaican Maroons (escaped slaves) in the 18th century. Mesolectal forms are similar to very basilectal Belizean Kriol.

Jamaican Patois exists mostly as a spoken language and is also heavily used for musical purposes, especially in reggae and dancehall as well as other genres. Although standard British English is used for most writing in Jamaica, Jamaican Patois has been gaining ground as a literary language for almost a hundred years. Claude McKay published his book of Jamaican poems Songs of Jamaica in 1912. Patois and English are frequently used for stylistic contrast (codeswitching) in new forms of internet writing.

Limonese Creole

Limonese Creole (also called Limón Creole English or Mekatelyu) is a dialect of Jamaican Creole spoken in Limón Province on the Caribbean Sea coast of Costa Rica. Limón Coastal Creole is similar to varieties such as Colón Creole, Mískito Coastal Creole, Belizian Kriol, and San Andrés and Providencia Creole. The number of speakers is below 100,000. Limón Coastal Creole does not have the status of an official language. It is very similar to Jamaican Creole and has borrowed many words from English.

Jamaican Creole was introduced to the Limón Province by Jamaican migrant workers who arrived to work on the construction of the Atlantic railway, the banana plantations and on the Pacific railway.

The name Mekatelyu is a transliteration of the phrase "make I tell you", or in standard English "let me tell you". Linguists of the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica and the Universidad de Costa Rica consider it as not English.

When European countries went to Africa to take people for slavery, they sent Africans from different countries who had no language in common to work on plantations in the Caribbean Islands. Those Africans had to develop a way to speak to communicate between themselves. If their slave driver spoke English, they started to learn it. Over time, those enslaved people created an English that was only understandable between them (a kind of pidgin) and then, they taught that way to speak to their children—a creole language.

Those speakers of creole English had a lot of contact with Scottish, Irish and English people, so they had to learn to speak an English that was more understandable to different nationalities (a "neutral" or standard English). Therefore, they created many ways to speak English, from the "most creole" to the "most standard" varying gradually according to the context.

Africans enslaved by the French developed a French creole, but they had little or no contact with French speakers. So, their French creole became an independent language.

One common way to call the Limón Creole English in Costa Rica is by the term "Patois", a word was used initially by French. In France, there are many ways to speak French and also many languages (including other romance languages as Provençal). This country needed to homogenize the language and declared the French of Paris as the correct French. For that, the other varieties of French or the other minority languages were considered incorrect or bad ways to speak and were called patois (that means to speak with the feet). The French creole was also considered patois because it differed to the French or Paris. By the pass of time, the meaning of the term patois expanded even more. As an analogy to the French creole, the English creole was also called with patois. When Costa Ricans talk about the Costa Rican Patois used in Limón, it is not clear if they mean the creole English (the most common creole) or the creole French.

Limón was once a very important port of the Caribbean and the English was an important language used there. There were French creole speakers that migrated to this region and had to learn English. As it was hard for these migrants to learn a new language as adults, they started to mix their native language (French creole) with the creole English. That is the reason why some Costa Ricans have the false belief that in Limón is spoken a mix of French and English. Only a few migrants made it.

Linguists are undecided if the English creole is a kind of English or another language. According to some authors, the Limonese Creole should be declared other language as it happens with the French creole of Haiti. However, in Haiti there is no dialectal continuum, as the distinction between the French and the creole is clear; and in Limón there exists a continuum between the English and the Creole. This is related to the linguistic phenomenon of decreolization.

There is controversy about what should be taught in Limón schools, Creole English or Standard English. The first option would conserve cultural identity and history of those African descendants. However, the second option would allow people to have jobs needing bilingualism in Spanish and English.

Macanese Patois

Macanese Patois (known as Patuá to its speakers) is a Portuguese-based creole language with a substrate from Malay, Cantonese and Sinhalese, which was originally spoken by the Macanese community of the Portuguese colony of Macau. It is now spoken by a few families in Macau and in the Macanese diaspora.

On 20 February 2009, the new edition of UNESCO’s Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger classified Patua as a "critically endangered" language. The Atlas puts the number of Patua speakers at 50 as of the year 2000. It underwent decreolisation and a shift to Standard Portuguese while Macau was still under Portuguese administration.

The language is also called by its speakers Papia Cristam di Macau ("Christian speech of Macau"), and has been nicknamed Dóci Língu di Macau ("Sweet Language of Macau") and Doci Papiaçam ("sweet speech") by poets. In Portuguese it is called Macaense, Macaista Chapado ("pure Macanese"), or Patuá (from French patois).

Multicultural London English

Multicultural London English (abbreviated MLE) is a sociolect of English that emerged in the late twentieth century. It is spoken authentically by the low classes, mainly young people in London (although there is evidence to suggest that certain features are spreading further afield). According to research conducted at Lancaster University and Queen Mary University of London, "In much of the East End of London the Cockney dialect... will have disappeared within another generation.... it will be gone [from the East End] within 30 years.... It has been 'transplanted' to... [Essex and Hertfordshire New] towns."As the label suggests, speakers of MLE come from a wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and live in diverse inner-city neighbourhoods such as Brent, Lambeth and Hackney. As a result, it can be regarded as a multiethnolect. One study was unable "to isolate distinct (discrete) ethnic styles" in their data on phonetics and quotatives in Hackney and commented that the "differences between ethnicities, where they exist, are quantitative in nature". In fact, they find that it is diversity of friendship groups that is most important; the more ethnically diverse an adolescent's friendship networks are, the more likely it is that they will speak MLE.In the press, MLE is sometimes referred to as "Jafaican", conveying the idea of "fake Jamaican", because of popular belief that it stems from immigrants of Jamaican and Caribbean descent. However, research suggests that the roots of MLE are much more complex. Two Economic and Social Research Council funded research projects found that MLE has most likely developed as a result of language contact and group second language acquisition. Specifically, it can contain elements from "learners' varieties of English, Englishes from the Indian subcontinent and Africa, Caribbean creoles and Englishes along with their indigenised London versions (Sebba 1993), local London and south-eastern vernacular varieties of English, local and international youth slang, as well as more levelled and standard-like varieties from various sources."

Savoyard dialect

Savoyard is a dialect of the Franco-Provençal language. It is spoken in some territories of the historical Duchy of Savoy, nowadays a geographic area spanning Savoie and Haute-Savoie, France and the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland. The varieties are commonly known as patois. It has around 35,000 speakers today.

Scots Wikipedia

The Scots Wikipedia (Scots: Scots Wikipaedia) is the Scots language version of Wikipedia, and is run by the Wikimedia Foundation. It was established on 23 June 2005, and first reached 1,000 articles in February 2006, and 5,000 articles in November 2010. As of May 2019, it has about 54,000 articles. The Scots Wikipedia is one of eight Wikipedias written in an Anglic language or English-based pidgin/creole, the others being the English Wikipedia, the Simple English Wikipedia, the Old English Wikipedia, the Pitkern-Norfuk Wikipedia, the Tok Pisin Wikipedia, the Jamaican Patois Wikipedia, and the Sranan Tongo Wikipedia.

Sheng slang

Sheng is a Swahili and English-based cant, perhaps a mixed language or creole, originating among the urban underclass of Nairobi, Kenya, and influenced by many of the languages spoken there. While primarily a language of urban youths, it has spread across social classes and geographically to neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda.

Valdôtain dialect

Valdôtain is a dialect of Arpitan (Franco-Provençal) spoken in the Aosta Valley in Italy. It is commonly known as patois or patoué.

Voiced velar implosive

The voiced velar implosive is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɠ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is g_<.

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