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Postcolonialism, Identity, and the French Language in St. Lucia

In: New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids
Author:
Aonghas St. Hilaire . amsthilaire@yahoo.com

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Examines attitudes toward cultural identification with the French language, recently increased in education, relative to English and Kwéyòl, among St Lucians, through a postcolonial conceptual framework. Author contextualizes this within St Lucia's history, as first French and later British colony, and relates it to the multiplicity, characteristic of St Lucia (and Caribbean) Creole identity, and a connected fluidity in language use. Through a rural and Castries sample, he further studies the evaluations of St Lucians of French, English, and Kwéyòl, in relation to their sense of cultural and social relevance and affinity of and with these languages. He shows how English is seen by most as high-status and important for St Lucians, especially for upward and outward mobility, while especially for St Lucia's national identity Kwéyòl is also valued by most, despite its recent partial waning. French, recently stimulated as main second or third language, is seen as quite important, and should according to a majority of the sample (especially in Castries) be learned more by St Lucians, and is seen as more relevant than Spanish. Author points out how this is related to a strong cultural affinity St Lucians sense with nearby Martinique, practical connections (traveling, migrating) to Martinique, or French/Martinican tourists in St Lucia, as well as to French's similarity to Kwéyòl, thus possibly helping to bolster Kwéyòl's status.

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