Vocabulary Seychelles Creole

The vocabulary contains 2088 meaning-word pairs ("entries") corresponding to core LWT meanings from the recipient language Seychelles Creole. The corresponding text chapter was published in the book Loanwords in the World's Languages. The language page Seychelles Creole contains a list of all loanwords arranged by donor languoid.

Details Value Valueset

Field descriptions

Form

The database contains the closest equivalents of LWT meanings in Seychelles Creole based on written sources (see references below) supplemented by the native-speaker knowledge of one of the investigators, Marcel Rosalie (Victoria/Mahé). Our main source is Annegret Bollée’s monumental work Dictionnaire étymologique des créoles français de l’Océan Indien (1993–2007), 4 volumes. We have also consulted St Jorre & Lionnet (1999) (Diskyonner kreol-franse/Dictionnaire créole seychellois-français) and Baker & Hookoomsing (1987) (Diksoner kreol morisyen).

Bollée (1993–2007) is a very comprehensive and highly reliable source for any
etymology of a creole lexeme in one of the main three creole languages spoken in
the Indian Ocean, Seychelles Creole, Mauritian Creole, and Reunion Creole. Bollée builds on earlier work by Chaudenson (1974) (Le lexique du parler créole de la Réunion) and Baker’s unpublished PhD thesis (1982) (The contribution of non-
Francophone immigrants to the lexicon of Mauritian Creole). The present dataset on Seychelles Creole does hardly add any etymology to those already established by Bollée (1993–2007).

In the field "Word form", there are in some rare cases two variants for a given entry, separated by a comma, e.g. delo, dilo 'water'.

Baker, Philip (1982), The contribution of non-Francophone immigrants to the lexicon of Mauritian Creole, PhD thesis, 2 vols, unpublished.

Baker, Philip & Hookoomsing, Vinesh (1987), Diksoner kreol morisyen, Paris 1987.

Bollée, Annegret (1993ff.), Dictionnaire étymologique des créoles français de l'Océan Indien, 4 vols, Hamburg: Buske.

Chaudenson, Robert (1974), Le lexique du parler créole de la Réunion, 2 vols, Paris.

St Jorre, de Danielle & Lionnet, Guy (1999), Diskyonner kreol – franse. Dictionnaire créole seychellois – français, Bamberg/Mahé.

Free meaning

In this field, I entered meanings which show significant differences between the LWT meaning and the meaning of the corresponding Seychelles Creole word, most often sub-counterparts of the LWT meaning. I also cite fixed expressions in which the given lexem is used.

Comment on word form

Here I give additional information on the French source word(s) for a lot of the Seychelles Creole entries. Often we also cite an etymon from dialectal, non-standardized French as this was the source for the Mauritian and Seychelles Creole words.

Age

The uninhabited islands of the Seychelles were the last of the Indian Ocean islands to be settled in 1770 by the French, mainly from Mauritius (settled in 1721), but also from Reunion Island (settled in 1664). The French settlers brought their African slaves along with them to this new subcolony, which was ruled from Mauritius. During the first two decades, the colony was faced with various difficulties, but a demographic boom began around the late 1780s, when under Malavois, the Governor-General for Mauritius and the Seychelles, the economy changed from the mere exploitation of the natural resources to profitable agriculture (cotton, coffee, spices) (Nwulia 1981: 27). By 1791, there were 572 inhabitants in the islands: 65 Europeans, 20 free “colored” people, and 487 slaves (Chaudenson 1979: 225). Due to a constant demand for servile labor, the population grew constantly, and by 1810 there were 317 European settlers, 135 free “colored” people and 3,015 slaves in the islands.

After the Napoleonic Wars, with the Treaty of Paris in 1814, the Seychelles and
Mauritius came under the rule of Britain, whereas Reunion remained under French rule. After 1807 the slave trade was illegal in all British territories, but the colonial authorities found it difficult to implement this ban in the Seychelles and Mauritius. As a consequence, an illegal slave trade started to flourish in the Indian Ocean (Allen 2001: 93, 110). It is estimated that between 1811 and 1827 about 60,000 slaves were exported from Madagascar and East Africa to Mauritius and to the Seychelles (Allen 2001: 111).

After the abolition of slavery in 1835, the British Navy captured French ships that still engaged in the slave trade and set the slaves “free” in the Seychelles. This led to a considerable further influx of Bantu-speaking East Africans in the 19th century.
With respect to the evolution of Seychelles Creole, it is crucial to note that when the French colonists, who mainly came from Mauritius, settled the Seychelles, they and their slaves brought some kind of already stabilized Mauritian Creole along with them. Baker & Corne (1986) hypothesize that it was around 1770 that the different varieties spoken in Mauritius “jelled” into a stable creole language. This historical fact is the reason why Seychelles Creole can be characterized as an offshoot of Mauritian Creole. The two modern languages are still mutually intelligible.

In 1976, the Seychelles became independent, and since 1978 there have been
three official languages: English, French and Seychelles Creole (Kreol seselwa). Creole is the native language of about 95% of the population. In 1982 it was introduced as a language of instruction in primary schools and has been used in different formal communication contexts, e.g. television, radio, court, newspaper. But during the last 15 years, the use of written varieties of Seychelles Creole has lost a lot of its former significance.

Regarding the age field , it should be stressed that the age estimates are based on a lot of speculation (much less for the 20th century), and not on the date of the first written attestation of a given word.
The following age designations have been used:
(i) 18th century: all words which are supposed to have been either already part of the Mauritian Creole varieties imported into the Seychelles (in 1770), or words that may have entered Seychelles Creole in this very early stage (1770-1800).
(ii) 19th century: words which may have entered Seychelles Creole via slaves who mainly came from East Africa speaking eastern Bantu languages or from Madagascar (whereas it is not clear how many Malagasy slaves were brought to the Seychelles during the illegal slave trade in the first decennies of the 19th century (see Michaelis 2008)).
(iii) 19th or 20th century: a lot of words borrowed from French and English, where a more exact timing seems to be unjustified given the little linguistic evidence.
(iv) 20th century: clear cases of late borrowings into Seychelles Creole mainly based on the semantics of the lexeme denoting concepts which have only become relevant in the 20th century.

Allen, Richard B. 2001. Licentious and unbridled proceedings: The illegal slave trade to Mauritius and the Seychelles during the early nineteenth century. Journal of African History 42:91–116.

Baker, Philip & Corne, Chris. 1986. Universals, Substrata and the Indian Ocean Creoles. In Muysken, Pieter & Smith, Norval (eds.), Substrata versus Universals in Creole Genesis, 163–183. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Chaudenson, Robert. 1979. Créoles français de l'océan Indien et langues africaines [French creoles of the Indian Ocean and African languages]. In Hancock, Ian F. (ed.), Readings in creole studies, 217–237. Ghent: E. Story-Scientia.

Michaelis, Susanne (2008), "Valency patterns in Seychelles Creole: Where do they come from", in: Michaelis, Susanne (2008) (Ed), Roots of creole structures. Weighing the contribution of substrates and superstrates, Amsterdam: Benjamins,
225-251.

Nwulia, Moses. 1981. The History of Slavery in Mauritius and the Seychelles: 1810–1875. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickenson University Press.

Borrowed

In this project, I adopt the socalled "continuity hypothesis" for the genesis of creole languages, according to which creole languages should be treated just like other languages in this project. Seychelles Creole is regarded as an offshoot of French, and I regard most of its core vocabulary as inherited from earlier French.Thus, dialectal and colonial French varieties of the 17th and 18th centuries spoken by the French settlers constitute the bulk of the Seychelles Creole lexicon. There is clear continuity between French and Seychelles Creole in this respect. In the formation of the contact language, the creole creators came from different social and ethnic backgrounds at different times. It is true that at a later point in the history of the colony, the vast majority of creole language creators were people who natively spoke languages other than French, mainly eastern Bantu languages. However, I assume that speakers from eastern Bantu languages introduced the words of their mother tongues into the evolving creole language, which had its overwhelming lexical base in colonial French overseas varieties.

The assignments have been used in the following way:
(i) "no evidence for borrowing"

Nearly 90% of the analyzed set of LWT meanings don't show any evidence for borrowing, i.e. all these lexemes have been inherited from 18th century French.

(ii) "only very little evidence for borrowing"/"'perhaps borrowed"

Here we overwhelmingly find cases where Seychelles Creole words were borrowed from French, its European base language. Besides French settlers from Mauritius and Reunion Island, the islands were also colonized by French colonists who came directly from France. The bulk of the lexicon of Seychelles Creole is French-based (18th century spoken French varieties). The French lexemes were introduced into the Creole by the French settlers, but also via the already stabilized French-based Creole varieties of Mauritian Creole, which were introduced by Mauritian settlers and slaves during the first decades of colonization.

As spoken and written French kept its influence on Seychelles Creole throughout
the 19th and 20th centuries (even though in 1814 the Seychelles became part of
the British Empire), we expect French words to have entered Seychelles Creole
during these two centuries. Moreover, six years after independence, in 1982,
Seychelles Creole was introduced as a language of instruction in primary schools
and has been used in different formal communication contexts, e.g. television, radio, court, newspaper, poetry. During this process of creating a written language in addition to the spoken vernacular, a lot of written-style words were borrowed from French into Seychelles Creole. Today, it is extremely difficult to decide on phonological, phonotactic and/or morphological grounds whether a lexeme has been inherited from 18th century colonial French or borrowed from French into the existing Creole during the 19th or 20th centuries. Besides very clear cases of French loanwords, there are nevertheless some 100 lexemes which one could classify as being perhaps a French loanword, e.g. imen ‘human’ (< French humain). The decision whether a word should be considered a French loan was mostly guided either by the semantics of the lexeme denoting concepts which have only become relevant in the 20th century (e.g. televizyon ‘television’, < French télévision), or by the formal register of a given lexeme for an existing phenomenon (e.g. vilv ‘vulva’, < French vulve).

(iii) "Probably borrowed"

Besides cases of borrowing from formal registers of French into Seychelles Creole, words of non-French heritage for which we often don't have any convincing etymology are also listed under this rubrique, e.g. tonkonny 'the tree stump'.

(iv) "clearly borrowed"
For all those cases considered as "clearly borrowed", we have good evidence that a given word was borrowed into Seychelles Creole, and furthermore we can trace the word back to its source word in the donor language.

Calqued

Lexical calquing seems to be rare in Seychelles Creole, even though one
should admit that it is extremely difficult to detect. One should know both
Seychelles Creole and possible calquing languages very well so that one would be able to identify the parallel structures in both contexts. There is one often-cited
example of lexical calquing in Seychelles Creole, which is the praying mantis, kasbol apparently calqued from Swahili kivunjajungu ‘break pot’ (cf. Baker 1993: 131). The Swahili expression refers to the superstition that the person who kills a mantis will break the next thing he touches, e.g. a bowl (Baker 1982: 119). As the creole expression kasbol can be segmented into two parts kas ‘to break’ and bol ‘bowl’, the Seychelles Creole item is clearly calqued from Swahili. Whereas lexical calquing seems to be rare in Seychelles Creole, grammatical calquing has a much more important role (see Michaelis 2008).

Baker, Philip (1982), The contribution of non-Francophone immigrants to the lexicon of Mauritian Creole, PhD thesis, 2 vols, unpublished.

Baker, Philip. 1993. African contribution to French-based creoles. In Mufwene, Salikoko S. (ed.), Africanims in Afro-American Language Varieties, 123–155. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Michaelis, Susanne (2008), "Valency patterns in Seychelles Creole: Where do they come from", in: Michaelis, Susanne (2008) (Ed), Roots of creole structures. Weighing the contribution of substrates and superstrates, Amsterdam: Benjamins, 225-251.

Reference

Allen, Richard B. 2001. Licentious and unbridled proceedings: The illegal slave trade to Mauritius and the Seychelles during the early nineteenth century. Journal of African History 42:91–116.


Baker, Philip (1982), The contribution of non-Francophone immigrants to the lexicon of Mauritian Creole, PhD thesis, 2 vols, unpublished.

Baker, Philip. 1993. African contribution to French-based creoles. In Mufwene, Salikoko S. (ed.), Africanims in Afro-American Language Varieties, 123–155. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Baker, Philip & Corne, Chris (1982), Isle de France Creole. Affinities and Origins, Ann Arbor: Karoma.
Baker, Philip & Corne, Chris. 1986. Universals, Substrata and the Indian Ocean Creoles. In Muysken, Pieter & Smith, Norval (eds.), Substrata versus Universals in Creole Genesis, 163–183. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Baker, Philip & Hookoomsing, Vinesh (1987), Diksoner kreol morisyen, Paris 1987.

Bollée, Annegret (1993ff.), Dictionnaire étymologique des créoles français de l'Océan Indien, 4 vols, Hamburg: Buske.

Chaudenson, Robert (1974), Le lexique du parler créole de la Réunion, 2 vols, Paris.

Chaudenson, Robert. 1979. Créoles français de l'océan Indien et langues africaines [French creoles of the Indian Ocean and African languages]. In Hancock, Ian F. (ed.), Readings in creole studies, 217–237. Ghent: E. Story-Scientia.

Französisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch = Wartburg, Walther von (1922ff.), Französisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch. Eine Darstellung des galloromanischen Sprachschatzes, Bonn/Basel.

Michaelis, Susanne (2008), "Valency patterns in Seychelles Creole: Where do they come from", in: Michaelis, Susanne (2008) (Ed), Roots of creole structures. Weighing the contribution of substrates and superstrates, Amsterdam: Benjamins, 225-251.

Nwulia, Moses. 1981. The History of Slavery in Mauritius and the Seychelles: 1810–1875. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickenson University Press.

St Jorre, de Danielle & Lionnet, Guy (1999), Diskyonner kreol – franse. Dictionnaire créole seychellois – français, Bamberg/Mahé.

Abbreviations

AGT= agentive
ABSTR= abstract
SUFF= suffix
? = referring to linking elements which are difficult to classify (etymological French à and de)