[Ads-l] Revival of a creole

Mark Mandel markamandel at GMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 15 05:02:57 UTC 2023

*Kouri-Vini: The return of the US' lost language*


By Tracey Teo 1st March 2023
*It was born from the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and then
slowly disappeared. Now, its speakers are reclaiming it as part of their

At the Hideaway on Lee, a bar and music venue in Lafayette, Louisiana,
Cedric Watson belted out the lyrics to "Oh, Bye Bye" in Louisiana French.
*[The article focuses on this performer's work in reviving the "lost


Watson is part of a grass roots resurgence to revive Kouri-Vini, a
historical name for the Louisiana Creole language that has been reclaimed
to prevent confusion with other things "Creole", such as ethnicity, musical
styles and culinary traditions.

Watson's next album, slated for release this summer, will be sung mostly in
Kouri-Vini. Today, the language has fewer than 6,000 speakers, but at the
beginning of the 20th Century, it was spoken by much of the Creole
population in the 22-parish region of south-west Louisiana known as

In the early 18th Century, newly enslaved people created an amalgam of
their native West African languages and the French that colonists used to
communicate on the Louisiana sugar and indigo plantations where they
toiled. "It's the first language all these Africans coming from different
tribes and caste systems would speak when they were enslaved," Watson said.
"They had these pidgin languages they would speak for a couple of
generations, but it eventually became an organised language, which is
Creole (Kouri-Vini)" - whose name comes from the Creole pronunciation of
the French verbs "courir" (to run) and "venir" (to come).


Mark Mandel

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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