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Anne Zribi-Hertz

French-based creole languages (FBCLs) may be characterized as a group by one historical and two linguistic properties. Their shared historical feature is that they arose between the 16th and 19th centuries as vehicular (hence oral) languages in French colonies, through language contact between the colonial variety of French spoken by the French settlers and the typologically and genetically diverse languages spoken upon arrival by the imported slaves—the imported workers or the local people in the case of Tayo, which emerged in the 19th century after the abolition of slavery and whose status as an FBCL is controversial. The linguistic features characterizing FBCLs are (a) that their lexicon is dominantly derived from French while their phonology and morphosyntax are both reminiscent of, and different from, those of known dialectal varieties of French; and (b) that they stand as first languages (L1s), namely, are acquired by children and are used for all-purpose communication—as opposed to pidgins, types of contact languages used only as vehicular L2s for specific-interaction purposes (e.g., trade). Beyond these broad defining features, there is much variation among FBCLs with respect to the locations, periods, and historical conditions of their emergence; the relevant contact languages involved in their development; and the grammatical properties of the resulting creoles. And the details of the linguistic change process known as creolization are yet to be settled. FBCLs thus defined currently include on the American continent: Guyanese 1 (in French Guiana), Karipúna (Brazil, near the French-Guiana border), and Louisiana Creole (on the decrease), in Louisiana; in the Caribbean: Haitian (in the independent Republic of Haiti), St. Lucian (in the state of Sainte-Lucie), and the creoles spoken in the French-controlled territories of Martinique, Guadeloupe, Dominique, Saint-Barthélémy, and Northern part of Saint-Martin; in the Indian Ocean, off the shores of Eastern Africa: Mauritian (in Mauritius), Seychelles Creole (in the Seychelles), Rodrigues Creole (in the Rodrigues Island, controlled by Mauritius), and Reunion Creole (in the island of Reunion, a French-controlled territory); and in Southern New Caledonia: Tayo.