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Guadeloupe: Half French, Half Creole, Completely Unique

Guadeloupe: Half French, Half Creole, Completely Unique

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Three hours from Miami and a stone’s throw from San Juan lies a paradise most Americans haven’t even heard of. Grande-Terre, Basse-Terre, Marie Galante, Les Saintes, La Désirade: these are the islands of Guadeloupe, a French territory that’s half française, half antillaise, and fully worth experiencing.

The islands are beautiful, but the heart of the country is the nearly half a million residents who call Guadeloupe home. Guadeloupeans are French citizens, but their culture is a Creole melting pot of music and dance, literature and independence. Ask anyone from Gwada and they’ll tell you how they overthrew their slavers — twice.

Guadeloupe is to France as Hawaii is to America: a tropical outpost that flies the mainland’s flag. Thousands of French people flock to the islands of Guadeloupe each year to swim, sail, hike, and eat their fill of mouthwatering Franco-Afro-Caribbean food. Each island has its own feel, so visiting Guadeloupe is like four or five mini-vacations in one.

Grande-Terre is full of gently rolling hills and farms. Some of the islands’ biggest cities are here, and most tourist resorts are based on this island. A small strip of land connects it to Basse-Terre, its lusher and more volcanic twin.

When in Grande-Terre, make sure to visit Pointe des Châteaux, the easternmost point on the island. Wind meets sea meets rock in this dramatic outcropping, and neighboring islands shimmer in the distance.

Basse-Terre is home to Guadeloupe’s plantations, which grow mainly bananas, coffee, and sugar. La Grande Soufrière, the tallest mountain in the Antilles, rises off Basse-Terre’s face into blankets of mist in the sky.

Fort Delgrès is one of Guadeloupe’s most important historical sites, home to a battle where Guadeloupeans decided they'd rather die than live as slaves. Formerly a working military encampment, it’s now a destination for tourists and locals alike.

Marie Galante is a paradise of beaches. It’s flatter than the other islands, and is the source of some of Guadeloupe’s finest rhums. Quieter than Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre, Marie Galante is an island for those who wish to leave the rest of the world behind.

On Marie Galante, visit Rhum Bielle Distillerie. The distillery’s been making its distinctive rhums since the 1700s. They use the same processes today to make environmentally friendly, small-batch liquor.

Les Saintes is charming and scenic — the Capri of the Caribbean. Yachts and fishing boats share the water next to towns of colorful restaurants and narrow winding streets.

Les Saintes Bay has been recognized by UNESCO as one of the ten best bays in the world, and it’s easy to see why. The placid waters are almost unbelievably blue, perfect for sailing, kayaking, or simply floating for hours at a stretch.

La Désirade is unspoiled and full of wildlife. Although tourism is regulated, it is possible to visit the smallest and least populated of the Guadeloupean islands. Nature lovers especially should look to visit this island and its thousands of rare plants and animals.

The island is a former leper colony, and ruins of that old infrastructure still dot the island. Take a day trip to see the crumbling stone walls that are being slowly reclaimed by nature.

The crispy, golden joys of Guadeloupe’s bokit

Most people remember the milestones in their lives as a series of firsts: first kiss, first time behind the wheel, first sip of alcohol. For as long as I live, I will always remember my first bokit. I had landed on the dreamy archipelago of Guadeloupe earlier that week and spent most of my time sampling the island’s French fusion cuisine, dishes like feroces d’ avocat (spicy avocado salad with cassava and codfish) and souskai (green fruits with lime and hot pepper). By the third day, I thought I had crossed most of Guadeloupe’s signature foods off my list. Fortunately, I was wrong.

Audrey, a Guadeloupean who now lives in New York, took me to a ramshackle storefront and explained that I could not leave Gwada without trying a bokit. A list of a dozen ingredients lined the walls, from lamb to curried lobster, but I chose the familiar saltfish filling. I watched as the shop owner fried two long pieces of flat dough and then stuffed saltfish, lettuce, and sauces between them. He handed it to me wrapped in foil. I unwrapped it, took a little bite, and felt my eyes pop out of my face. Audrey smirked.

Nicknamed the Creole burger, the bokit is an iconic Guadeloupean street food seemingly adored by all. Its use of fried dough—which is filling enough on its own—means that the bokit is much heartier than most sandwiches, an entire entree of meats, cheeses, and vegetables crammed between sturdy fry bread. The oily flavor of the fried dough blends with all the fillings (and there can be up to half a dozen) for a satisfying mix of fat and freshness. There are dozens of sauces that you can add to a bokit: pepper sauce, creole sauce (scotch bonnet peppers, onion garlic, lime, parsley), curry sauce, ketchup, many of which are housemade depending on where you go.

Designated as a French overseas region, the Eastern Caribbean archipelago of Guadeloupe is noted for cuisine that blends African, Indian, and indigenous flavors with French cooking techniques. The region’s two largest islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, form a butterfly shape in the southern Caribbean Sea, and the land exudes a sun-drenched, Creole flair. Walking around Pointe-à-Pitre on Grande-Terre, I glimpsed locals carrying fresh sugarcane juice sold in plastic bottles on corners, codfish fritters called accras piled into bags for snacking, and baguettes tucked under their arms. The various food traditions appeared everywhere all at once. (In fact, it’s no coincidence that Guadeloupe’s most famous band, the legendary zouk ensemble Kassav’ , is named for a local cassava pancake typically stuffed with coconut.)

The island may be known for its golden beaches and stylish joie de vivre, but food is a huge part of that, playing a significant role in the Guadeloupean lifestyle. The island’s signature cultural event each year is La Fête des Cuisinières, or the Festival of Female Chefs . Celebrated every August for over a century, the chefs dress in traditional madras dresses and headscarves and walk in procession to Pointe-à-Pitre’s Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul to have baskets of food, flowers, and cooking utensils blessed by the priest. The celebration is topped off with folk music and, of course, a feast: spectators sample the chefs’ special Creole dishes like grilled fish with court-bouillon or porc-colombo , the curry-spiced national dish of Guadeloupe. After all, it’s not a celebration without an excess of food.

I didn’t realize just what kind of celebration I was in for when I walked over to the bokit stand to place my first order. Although it’s presented as street food, the bokit is really a portable feast, and on every corner of the island, bokit stalls or food trucks can be found serving the local delicacy. Bokits, in fact, seemed as ubiquitous as the seagrape trees that dot Guadeloupe’s beaches. Holding the hefty sandwich in my hands, the most recognizable part was the fried bread. Called Johnny cakes in most of the Caribbean, this fried dough’s roots can be traced to the indigenous practice of cooking corn cakes on hot stones. Stuffing the bread with enough fixings to sustain several people is thought to have started shortly after slavery was abolished in Guadeloupe in 1848. Poor workers wanted a cheap and filling alternative to the sandwich, so they used elongated fried bread and filled it with meat, cheese, sauces, and anything else that could fit (which was a lot more than a typical sandwich could). Today you can find almost anything stuffed into a bokit: chicken, bacon, conch, or mutton. Whatever the ingredients, it’s guaranteed to be delicious and, in my case at least, last several days. You can grab bokits anywhere in Guadeloupe, including the popular Bokit Delux in Pointe-à-Pitre. For the most creative takes, look no further than the food trucks serving their own unique bokits in the beach town of Sainte- Anne .

What is Crawfish Monica?

Over its 50 year run (so far), The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has grown to be a world-renown celebration of Louisiana and New Orleans Culture, rivaling even Mardi Gras in popularity. The music exemplifies the culturally diverse and seemingly unlimited wealth of musicians and rich sounds that sets South Louisiana apart from all others. But let's not overlook the food. Local food purveyors offer everything from classic Creole to rustic Cajun and everything in between. You'll find unbelievable food offered in the ordinary, the exotic and even the quirky. sort of sounds like our unique culture and you'll have trouble deciding what to try first.

You'll notice people lining up for Crawfish Monica, a dish created by a local pasta maker wanting to help sell his pasta. Introduced at Jazz Fest in 1981, it quickly gained notoriety and popularity. Succulent crawfish tails in a rich, creamy sauce mixed with rotini pasta. one taste and you'll have no doubt how it has become recognized as the most popular Jazz Fest nosh.

Martinique or Guadeloupe as alternatives to St Martin

I just posted this as a response to a question posed on the Martinique forum and thought it would be useful here. I am not advocating anyone changing their vacation plans, especially if you think your visit to St Martin will help with their rebuilding from a financial point of view, but I know everyone has their different priorities, abilities and desires so I am not going to judge.

The question was about whether Martinique and/or Guadeloupe are reasonable alternatives to St Martin this year, especially with Norwegian flying crazy cheap routes from Providence, JFK and Florida. The short answer is yes, they are absolutely worth considering, but don't expect them to be identical experiences.

Here is my abbreviated compare/contrast of St Martin, Martinique, Guadeloupe.

St Martin is tiny but has multiple places where hotels, beaches and restaurants all line up in a nice walk-able area and the entire island is largely devoted to tourism for good and bad.

Martinique and Guadeloupe are much larger and have hotels and beaches and restaurants, but they tend not to be all together in a walk-able patch. You can find hotels on beaches with the chairs and whatnot, but with a few exceptions they tend not to be the best beaches (often man made) and you can find restaurants, but generally they are on their own either in a town or along the road, but rarely right on the beach. Renting a car is key, then you have your hotel where ever and drive to a different spectacular, but isolated, beach each day and restaurant each night. This also gets you to the various hikes up volcanoes or to swimmable waterfalls. Of course because all the locals and tourists are driving everywhere, walking even short distances on the road seems quite dangerous.

Culturally, I'll call St Martin 50-50 French-American, arguably having the best of both for a North American. Guadeloupe and Martinique culturally are more like 90-10 French-American and in particular English speakers are quite rare. Far more rare than in Paris for example. If you don't speak at least a bit of French then think carefully whether you are going to be up for the challenge. Swimming attire is like in France also, meaning that though tops are not required they are commonly worn and that bottoms are required. Food tends to be either French or creole and many restaurants seem to have the exact same menu.

Economically, neither Martinique nor Guadeloupe are dependent on tourism. These are large islands with industry, malls and small cities intermixed with areas of spectacular natural beauty, but you have to do some planning to be where you want. Not because of crime, but just because you probably didn't fly all the way there just to be in a random residential or industrial area. Similarly, there are not, that we have found, sections of super luxury villas or services for the elite. Again, this is both good and bad depending.

Some places to consider staying (very short list): On Martinique we liked Trois Ilets because it had OK beaches, nice hotels, a walk-able little town and a ferry that runs to Fort-de-France that was fun. On Guadeloupe we liked St Francois which has great beaches (but not in the town) and has 10 or so walkable restaurants surrounding the marina. Or on Guadeloupe consider Langley Fort Royal Resort which has more English available, beach chairs, kayaks and 3 resort restaurants all there together.

So far, after 4 visits (1 to Martinique and 3 to Guadeloupe, versus 3 to St Martin and 3 to St Barths), I would say do not expect either Martinique or Guadeloupe to replicate St Martin. But we prefer them these days as more adventurous than St Martin and as very nice in their own right. There are many many little spots to find, including the off islands, and we hopefully will make our fifth visit this winter and keep up our explorations.

Separately, Cabarete, in the DR and Tulum in Mexico are the closest replicas of St Martin that I can think of..

Creole Stuffed Bell Peppers

I absolutely adore stuffed bell peppers. The Cajun? Not so much.

Remember his aversion to veggies? Well, the poor bell pepper falls right into that category of any other whole veggie that is stuffed - even though most often the very veggie he is rejecting whole, is mixed in the stuffing anyway! So, as with any stuffed vegetable, he will just eat the stuffing from a stuffed bell pepper, and throw away the pepper. Silly man. I mean, he eats green bell pepper a lot. How many recipes do y'all see here that contain The Trinity - onion, celery, and . hello . green bell pepper? Lots. Sigh.

Needless to say I don't make these nearly as often as I'd like to. The thing is, all veggie hatred aside, I don't think a lot of people make stuffed peppers much anymore. Sad, because as far as I'm concerned, they really are good and not at all hard to make. I mean you've got your meat, a little starch and veggies, all rolled into one, right?

You'll notice that I like to cut my peppers in half lengthwise, cutting from the stem to stern, rather than cutting off the top of a whole pepper and stuffing it that way, so that it is standing up. It's just easier for me to cook them this way, and it stretches out the peppers.

Certainly though, if you prefer them made with the tops cut off, do them that way. Just cut off the upper part, just under the stem and then remove the spines and seeds. Either way, you'll want to parcook the cleaned peppers by dropping them into boiling water or microwaving them. I do mine for about 6 minutes.

I also like to use a blend of ground beef with some Italian sausage. Sometimes I'll even start with some bacon.

To that I add creole tomato sauce - which is basically tomato sauce cooked down with onion, celery and green bell pepper.

Speaking of veggies. this handheld Food Saver is how I keep things like deli meats and cheeses, as well as blocks of hard and soft cheeses and all of the bits and pieces of onion, celery and bell pepper fresh for the next time I need them. I love, love, love this little gadget.

Because of the cost of food these days, I mostly buy the large family packs of meats or sale meat these days, so I've graduated to a countertop vertical Food Saver too for those meats because the handheld bags aren't recommended for freezing. The handheld unit is perfect for those things that you are in and out of often, so I'm still using this pretty much everyday on something.

Mix in some rice, most often just leftover rice, some seasonings, and some of the sauce, then evenly divide the mixture between all of the peppers. I add some Rotel tomatoes with the remaining sauce and top the peppers off with it.

Add a light sprinkling of bread crumbs if you like - I like the Italian seasoned kind but I've used plain and panko, or no bread crumbs at all if I'm using cheese, which I add at the end, a light sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese or thin slices of Velveeta, whatever you like.

I asked The Cajun to pick me up some sharp cheddar on the way home one day, and he showed up with this.

I needed some shredded cheddar for something that day so it didn't work for the purpose in which I had intended, but, y'all know I love my Velveeta, so I wasn't exactly angry either! I shoved it in the fridge until something came up where I could use it and this seemed right as rain!

By the way, stuffed peppers freeze pretty well, so some of those extra baked peppers above, went into the freezer for a quick flash freeze, after which they were bagged up and will become a quick lunch or dinner for those occasions that I am dining alone in the near future. Defrost and then heat up in the microwave and you've got one speedy meal! You can also prepare these in advance unbaked and freeze them. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, or in the microwave on defrost first, before baking.

For more of my favorite Cajun and Creole recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

If you make this or any of my recipes, I'd love to see your results! Just snap a photo and hashtag it #DeepSouthDish on social media or tag me @deepsouthdish on Instagram!

Recipe: Creole Stuffed Bell Peppers

Yield: About 4 servings

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup each chopped onion, celery and bell pepper
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans regular tomato sauce
  • 4 large sweet bell peppers , green, red or yellow
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced onion
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 or 2 links spicy Italian sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt , or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper , or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (like Creole or Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can of Rotel tomatoes (original or mild), drained
  • 1- 2 tablespoons fresh, dry or panko bread crumbs
  • Freshly shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, pepper jack or your favorite) or thin slices Velveeta

Prepare sauce by melting butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the peppers lengthwise, stem to bottom, and scrape out seeds and ribs. Bring a large pot of water to boil and drop the pepper halves in, reduce heat, allowing peppers to parboil at a simmer for only 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a separate skillet, saute the onion in olive oil until tender. Remove the sausage from the casing and add it and the ground beef to the skillet cooking until browned, and breaking up into small pieces. Drain well. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add 1/2 cup of the prepared tomato sauce, reserve the remaining sauce. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until sauce is heated through. Stir in rice, salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Pour 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and place peppers in the dish. Loosely scoop the beef and rice mixture evenly into each pepper half, topping each off until you use all of the filling.

Mix the Rotel tomatoes with the remaining tomato sauce, and spoon evenly over the tops of each pepper and sprinkle each with bread crumbs. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until peppers are tender and filling is heated through. Remove, add cheese to top, and return to oven until cheese melts.

Cook's Notes: Peppers may also be cut standing. Simply cut off right under the top stem and remove the ribs and seeds, standing peppers up to stuff and cook. I prefer to microwave the raw peppers, about 6 minutes, rather than boil them. May also substitute approximately 2 cups of homemade creole tomato sauce, divided. Cheese topping may also be omitted. Peppers may be assembled for freezing or leftovers may be frozen.

Dirty Rice Stuffed Peppers: Prepare a recipe of dirty rice for the filling in original recipe.

Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers: Omit ground beef and sausage. Wrap a boneless ribeye or sirloin steak in plastic wrap and place into freezer for 20 minutes. Remove, unwrap and thinly slice against the grain. Whisk together 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons each balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon onion and garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley, and 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes. Place meat in a plastic bag or bowl and toss with marinade. Let rest 1 hour. Add marinade and meat to saucepan and cook until no longer pink. May omit or include the sauce. Saute onion and pepper blend in skillet until softened. Drain meat and add vegetables along with 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese. Omit rice. Meanwhile, prepare peppers as above. Layer in peppers, cheese and meat, ending with cheese. Bake as above.

Seafood Stuffed Peppers: Substitute 1 pound small shrimp, crawfish and/or crabmeat, or any combination of the three, omitting the meats and adding after the sauce is warmed through. Add one teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning and 2 teaspoons dried parsley.

Shortcut Shrimp Sauce: Loosen one can condensed cream of shrimp soup with about 1/2 cup of water or to desired consistency. Add 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay. Heat and spoon over peppers before serving, omitting cheese.

Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

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A creole is believed to arise when a pidgin, developed by adults for use as a second language, becomes the native and primary language of their children – a process known as nativization. [10] The pidgin-creole life cycle was studied by American linguist Robert Hall in the 1960s. [11]

Some linguists, such as Derek Bickerton, posit that creoles share more grammatical similarities with each other than with the languages from which they are phylogenetically derived. [12] However, there is no widely accepted theory that would account for those perceived similarities. [13] Moreover, no grammatical feature has been shown to be specific to creoles. [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]

Many of the creoles known today arose in the last 500 years, as a result of the worldwide expansion of European maritime power and trade in the Age of Discovery, which led to extensive European colonial empires. Like most non-official and minority languages, creoles have generally been regarded in popular opinion as degenerate variants or dialects of their parent languages. Because of that prejudice, many of the creoles that arose in the European colonies, having been stigmatized, have become extinct. However, political and academic changes in recent decades have improved the status of creoles, both as living languages and as object of linguistic study. [20] [21] Some creoles have even been granted the status of official or semi-official languages of particular political territories.

Linguists now recognize that creole formation is a universal phenomenon, not limited to the European colonial period, and an important aspect of language evolution. [22] For example, in 1933 Sigmund Feist postulated a creole origin for the Germanic languages. [23]

Other scholars, such as Salikoko Mufwene, argue that pidgins and creoles arise independently under different circumstances, and that a pidgin need not always precede a creole nor a creole evolve from a pidgin. Pidgins, according to Mufwene, emerged in trade colonies among "users who preserved their native vernaculars for their day-to-day interactions". Creoles, meanwhile, developed in settlement colonies in which speakers of a European language, often indentured servants whose language would be far from the standard in the first place, interacted extensively with non-European slaves, absorbing certain words and features from the slaves' non-European native languages, resulting in a heavily basilectalized version of the original language. These servants and slaves would come to use the creole as an everyday vernacular, rather than merely in situations in which contact with a speaker of the superstrate was necessary. [24]

Etymology Edit

The English term creole comes from French créole, which is cognate with the Spanish term criollo and Portuguese crioulo, all descending from the verb criar ('to breed' or 'to raise'), all coming from Latin creare ('to produce, create'). [25] The specific sense of the term was coined in the 16th and 17th century, during the great expansion in European maritime power and trade that led to the establishment of European colonies in other continents.

The terms criollo and crioulo were originally qualifiers used throughout the Spanish and Portuguese colonies to distinguish the members of an ethnic group who were born and raised locally from those who immigrated as adults. They were most commonly applied to nationals of the colonial power, e.g. to distinguish españoles criollos (people born in the colonies from Spanish ancestors) from españoles peninsulares (those born in the Iberian Peninsula, i.e. Spain). However, in Brazil the term was also used to distinguish between negros crioulos (blacks born in Brazil from African slave ancestors) and negros africanos (born in Africa). Over time, the term and its derivatives (Creole, Kréol, Kreyol, Kreyòl, Kriol, Krio, etc.) lost the generic meaning and became the proper name of many distinct ethnic groups that developed locally from immigrant communities. Originally, therefore, the term "creole language" meant the speech of any of those creole peoples.

Geographic distribution Edit

As a consequence of colonial European trade patterns, most of the known European-based creole languages arose in coastal areas in the equatorial belt around the world, including the Americas, western Africa, Goa along the west of India, and along Southeast Asia up to Indonesia, Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia, Mauritius, Reunion, Seychelles and Oceania. [26]

Many of those creoles are now extinct, but others still survive in the Caribbean, the north and east coasts of South America (The Guyanas), western Africa, Australia (see Australian Kriol language), the Philippines (see Chavacano) and in the Indian Ocean.

Atlantic Creole languages are based on European languages with elements from African and possibly Amerindian languages. Indian Ocean Creole languages are based on European languages with elements from Malagasy and possibly other Asian languages. There are, however, creoles like Nubi and Sango that are derived solely from non-European languages.

Social and political status Edit

Because of the generally low status of the Creole peoples in the eyes of prior European colonial powers, creole languages have generally been regarded as "degenerate" languages, or at best as rudimentary "dialects" of the politically dominant parent languages. Because of this, the word "creole" was generally used by linguists in opposition to "language", rather than as a qualifier for it. [27]

Another factor that may have contributed to the relative neglect of creole languages in linguistics is that they do not fit the 19th-century neogrammarian "tree model" for the evolution of languages, and its postulated regularity of sound changes (these critics including the earliest advocates of the wave model, Johannes Schmidt and Hugo Schuchardt, the forerunners of modern sociolinguistics). This controversy of the late 19th century profoundly shaped modern approaches to the comparative method in historical linguistics and in creolistics. [20] [27] [28]

Because of social, political, and academic changes brought on by decolonization in the second half of the 20th century, creole languages have experienced revivals in the past few decades. They are increasingly being used in print and film, and in many cases, their community prestige has improved dramatically. In fact, some have been standardized, and are used in local schools and universities around the world. [20] [21] [29] At the same time, linguists have begun to come to the realization that creole languages are in no way inferior to other languages. They now use the term "creole" or "creole language" for any language suspected to have undergone creolization, terms that now imply no geographic restrictions nor ethnic prejudices.

There is controversy about the extent to which creolization influenced the evolution of African-American Vernacular English (AAVE). In the American education system, as well as in the past, the use of the word ebonics to refer to AAVE mirrors the historical negative connotation of the word creole. [30]

Historic classification Edit

According to their external history, four types of creoles have been distinguished: plantation creoles, fort creoles, maroon creoles, and creolized pidgins. [31] By the very nature of a creole language, the phylogenetic classification of a particular creole usually is a matter of dispute especially when the pidgin precursor and its parent tongues (which may have been other creoles or pidgins) have disappeared before they could be documented.

Phylogenetic classification traditionally relies on inheritance of the lexicon, especially of "core" terms, and of the grammar structure. However, in creoles, the core lexicon often has mixed origin, and the grammar is largely original. For these reasons, the issue of which language is the parent of a creole – that is, whether a language should be classified as a "French creole", "Portuguese creole" or "English creole", etc. – often has no definitive answer, and can become the topic of long-lasting controversies, where social prejudices and political considerations may interfere with scientific discussion. [20] [21] [28]

Substrate and superstrate Edit

The terms substrate and superstrate are often used when two languages interact. However, the meaning of these terms is reasonably well-defined only in second language acquisition or language replacement events, when the native speakers of a certain source language (the substrate) are somehow compelled to abandon it for another target language (the superstrate). [32] The outcome of such an event is that erstwhile speakers of the substrate will use some version of the superstrate, at least in more formal contexts. The substrate may survive as a second language for informal conversation. As demonstrated by the fate of many replaced European languages (such as Etruscan, Breton, and Venetian), the influence of the substrate on the official speech is often limited to pronunciation and a modest number of loanwords. The substrate might even disappear altogether without leaving any trace. [32]

However, there is dispute over the extent to which the terms "substrate" and "superstrate" are applicable to the genesis or the description of creole languages. [33] The language replacement model may not be appropriate in creole formation contexts, where the emerging language is derived from multiple languages without any one of them being imposed as a replacement for any other. [34] [35] The substratum-superstratum distinction becomes awkward when multiple superstrata must be assumed (such as in Papiamentu), when the substratum cannot be identified, or when the presence or the survival of substratal evidence is inferred from mere typological analogies. [17] On the other hand, the distinction may be meaningful when the contributions of each parent language to the resulting creole can be shown to be very unequal, in a scientifically meaningful way. [36] In the literature on Atlantic Creoles, "superstrate" usually means European and "substrate" non-European or African. [37]

Decreolization Edit

Since creole languages rarely attain official status, the speakers of a fully formed creole may eventually feel compelled to conform their speech to one of the parent languages. This decreolization process typically brings about a post-creole speech continuum characterized by large-scale variation and hypercorrection in the language. [20]

It is generally acknowledged that creoles have a simpler grammar and more internal variability than older, more established languages. [38] However, these notions are occasionally challenged. [39] (See also language complexity.)

Phylogenetic or typological comparisons of creole languages have led to divergent conclusions. Similarities are usually higher among creoles derived from related languages, such as the languages of Europe, than among broader groups that include also creoles based on non-Indo-European languages (like Nubi or Sango). French-based creoles in turn are more similar to each other (and to varieties of French) than to other European-based creoles. It was observed, in particular, that definite articles are mostly prenominal in English-based creole languages and English whereas they are generally postnominal in French creoles and in the variety of French that was exported to what is now Quebec in the 17th and 18th century. [40] Moreover, the European languages which gave rise to the creole languages of European colonies all belong to the same subgroup of Western Indo-European and have highly convergent grammars to the point that Whorf joined them into a single Standard Average European language group. [41] French and English are particularly close, since English, through extensive borrowing, is typologically closer to French than to other Germanic languages. [42] Thus the claimed similarities between creoles may be mere consequences of similar parentage, rather than characteristic features of all creoles.

There are a variety of theories on the origin of creole languages, all of which attempt to explain the similarities among them. Arends, Muysken & Smith (1995) outline a fourfold classification of explanations regarding creole genesis:

  • Theories focusing on European input
  • Theories focusing on non-European input
  • Gradualist and developmental hypotheses
  • Universalist approaches

In addition to the precise mechanism of creole genesis, a more general debate has developed whether creole languages are characterized by different mechanisms than traditional languages (which is McWhorter's 2018 main point) [43] or whether in that regard creole languages develop by the same mechanisms as any other languages (e.g. DeGraff 2001). [44]

Theories focusing on European input Edit

Monogenetic theory of pidgins and creoles Edit

The monogenetic theory of pidgins and creoles hypothesizes that all Atlantic creoles derived from a single Mediterranean Lingua Franca, via a West African Pidgin Portuguese of the seventeenth century, relexified in the so-called "slave factories" [ further explanation needed ] of Western Africa that were the source of the Atlantic slave trade. This theory was originally formulated by Hugo Schuchardt in the late nineteenth century and popularized in the late 1950s and early 1960s by Taylor, [45] Whinnom, [46] Thompson, [47] and Stewart. [48] However, this hypothesis is now not widely accepted, since it relies on all creole-speaking slave populations being based on the same Portuguese-based creole, despite no to very little historical exposure to Portuguese for many of these populations, no strong direct evidence for this claim, and with Portuguese leaving almost no trace on the lexicon of most of them, with the similarities in grammar explainable by analogous processes of loss of inflection and grammatical forms not common to European and West African languages. For example, Bickerton (1977) harvcoltxt error: no target: CITEREFBickerton1977 (help) points out that relexification postulates too many improbabilities and that it is unlikely that a language "could be disseminated round the entire tropical zone, to peoples of widely differing language background, and still preserve a virtually complete identity in its grammatical structure wherever it took root, despite considerable changes in its phonology and virtually complete changes in its lexicon." [49]

Domestic origin hypothesis Edit

Proposed by Hancock (1985) harvcoltxt error: no target: CITEREFHancock1985 (help) for the origin of English-based creoles of the West Indies, the Domestic Origin Hypothesis argues that, towards the end of the 16th century, English-speaking traders began to settle in the Gambia and Sierra Leone rivers as well as in neighboring areas such as the Bullom and Sherbro coasts. These settlers intermarried with the local population leading to mixed populations, and, as a result of this intermarriage, an English pidgin was created. This pidgin was learned by slaves in slave depots, who later on took it to the West Indies and formed one component of the emerging English creoles.

European dialect origin hypothesis Edit

The French creoles are the foremost candidates to being the outcome of "normal" linguistic change and their creoleness to be sociohistoric in nature and relative to their colonial origin. [50] Within this theoretical framework, a French creole is a language phylogenetically based on French, more specifically on a 17th-century koiné French extant in Paris, the French Atlantic harbours, and the nascent French colonies. Supporters of this hypothesis suggest that the non-Creole French dialects still spoken in many parts of the Americas share mutual descent from this single koiné. These dialects are found in Canada (mostly in Québec and in Acadian communities), Louisiana, Saint-Barthélemy and as isolates in other parts of the Americas. [51] Approaches under this hypothesis are compatible with gradualism in change and models of imperfect language transmission in koiné genesis.

Foreigner talk and baby talk Edit

The Foreigner Talk (FT) hypothesis argues that a pidgin or creole language forms when native speakers attempt to simplify their language in order to address speakers who do not know their language at all. Because of the similarities found in this type of speech and speech directed to a small child, it is also sometimes called baby talk. [52]

Arends, Muysken & Smith (1995) suggest that four different processes are involved in creating Foreigner Talk:

This could explain why creole languages have much in common, while avoiding a monogenetic model. However, Hinnenkamp (1984) harvcoltxt error: no target: CITEREFHinnenkamp1984 (help) , in analyzing German Foreigner Talk, claims that it is too inconsistent and unpredictable to provide any model for language learning.

While the simplification of input was supposed to account for creoles' simple grammar, commentators have raised a number of criticisms of this explanation: [53]

  1. There are a great many grammatical similarities amongst pidgins and creoles despite having very different lexifier languages.
  2. Grammatical simplification can be explained by other processes, i.e. the innate grammar of Bickerton'slanguage bioprogram theory.
  3. Speakers of a creole's lexifier language often fail to understand, without learning the language, the grammar of a pidgin or creole.
  4. Pidgins are more often used amongst speakers of different substrate languages than between such speakers and those of the lexifier language.

Another problem with the FT explanation is its potential circularity. Bloomfield (1933) harvcoltxt error: no target: CITEREFBloomfield1933 (help) points out that FT is often based on the imitation of the incorrect speech of the non-natives, that is the pidgin. Therefore, one may be mistaken in assuming that the former gave rise to the latter.

Imperfect L2 learning Edit

The imperfect L2 (second language) learning hypothesis claims that pidgins are primarily the result of the imperfect L2 learning of the dominant lexifier language by the slaves. Research on naturalistic L2 processes has revealed a number of features of "interlanguage systems" that are also seen in pidgins and creoles:

  • invariant verb forms derived from the infinitive or the least marked finite verb form
  • loss of determiners or use as determiners of demonstrative pronouns, adjectives or adverbs
  • placement of a negative particle in preverbal position
  • use of adverbs to express modality
  • fixed single word order with no inversion in questions
  • reduced or absent nominal plural marking.

Imperfect L2 learning is compatible with other approaches, notably the European dialect origin hypothesis and the universalist models of language transmission. [54]

Theories focusing on non-European input Edit

Theories focusing on the substrate, or non-European, languages attribute similarities amongst creoles to the similarities of African substrate languages. These features are often assumed to be transferred from the substrate language to the creole or to be preserved invariant from the substrate language in the creole through a process of relexification: the substrate language replaces the native lexical items with lexical material from the superstrate language while retaining the native grammatical categories. [55] The problem with this explanation is that the postulated substrate languages differ amongst themselves and with creoles in meaningful ways. Bickerton (1981) argues that the number and diversity of African languages and the paucity of a historical record on creole genesis makes determining lexical correspondences a matter of chance. Dillard (1970) harvcoltxt error: no target: CITEREFDillard1970 (help) coined the term "cafeteria principle" to refer to the practice of arbitrarily attributing features of creoles to the influence of substrate African languages or assorted substandard dialects of European languages.

For a representative debate on this issue, see the contributions to Mufwene (1993) for a more recent view, Parkvall (2000).

Because of the sociohistoric similarities amongst many (but by no means all) of the creoles, the Atlantic slave trade and the plantation system of the European colonies have been emphasized as factors by linguists such as McWhorter (1999) harvcoltxt error: no target: CITEREFMcWhorter1999 (help) .

Gradualist and developmental hypotheses Edit

One class of creoles might start as pidgins, rudimentary second languages improvised for use between speakers of two or more non-intelligible native languages. Keith Whinnom (in Hymes (1971) harvcoltxt error: no target: CITEREFHymes1971 (help) ) suggests that pidgins need three languages to form, with one (the superstrate) being clearly dominant over the others. The lexicon of a pidgin is usually small and drawn from the vocabularies of its speakers, in varying proportions. Morphological details like word inflections, which usually take years to learn, are omitted the syntax is kept very simple, usually based on strict word order. In this initial stage, all aspects of the speech – syntax, lexicon, and pronunciation – tend to be quite variable, especially with regard to the speaker's background.

If a pidgin manages to be learned by the children of a community as a native language, it may become fixed and acquire a more complex grammar, with fixed phonology, syntax, morphology, and syntactic embedding. Pidgins can become full languages in only a single generation. "Creolization" is this second stage where the pidgin language develops into a fully developed native language. The vocabulary, too, will develop to contain more and more items according to a rationale of lexical enrichment. [56]

Universalist approaches Edit

Universalist models stress the intervention of specific general processes during the transmission of language from generation to generation and from speaker to speaker. The process invoked varies: a general tendency towards semantic transparency, first-language learning driven by universal process, or a general process of discourse organization. Bickerton's language bioprogram theory, proposed in the 1980s, remains the main universalist theory. [57] Bickerton claims that creoles are inventions of the children growing up on newly founded plantations. Around them, they only heard pidgins spoken, without enough structure to function as natural languages and the children used their own innate linguistic capacities to transform the pidgin input into a full-fledged language. The alleged common features of all creoles would then stem from those innate abilities being universal.

The last decades have seen the emergence of some new questions about the nature of creoles: in particular, the question of how complex creoles are and the question of whether creoles are indeed "exceptional" languages.

Creole prototype Edit

Some features that distinguish creole languages from noncreoles have been proposed (by Bickerton, [58] for example).

John McWhorter [59] has proposed the following list of features to indicate a creole prototype:

  • a lack of inflectional morphology (other than at most two or three inflectional affixes),
  • a lack of tone on monosyllabic words, and
  • a lack of semantically opaque word formation.

McWhorter hypothesizes that these three properties exactly characterize a creole. However, the creole prototype hypothesis has been disputed:

    (1999) and David Gil (2001) argue that languages such as Manding, Soninke, Magoua French and RiauIndonesian have all these three features but show none of the sociohistoric traits of creole languages.
  • Others (see overview in Muysken & Law (2001)) have demonstrated creoles that serve as counterexamples to McWhorter's hypothesis – the existence of inflectional morphology in Berbice Dutch Creole, for example, or tone in Papiamentu. [60]

Exceptionalism Edit

Building up on this discussion, McWhorter proposed that "the world's simplest grammars are Creole grammars", claiming that every noncreole language's grammar is at least as complex as any creole language's grammar. [61] [62] Gil has replied that Riau Indonesian has a simpler grammar than Saramaccan, the language McWhorter uses as a showcase for his theory. [16] The same objections were raised by Wittmann in his 1999 debate with McWhorter. [63]

The lack of progress made in defining creoles in terms of their morphology and syntax has led scholars such as Robert Chaudenson, Salikoko Mufwene, Michel DeGraff, and Henri Wittmann to question the value of creole as a typological class they argue that creoles are structurally no different from any other language, and that creole is a sociohistoric concept – not a linguistic one – encompassing displaced populations and slavery. [64]

Thomason & Kaufman (1988) harvcoltxt error: no target: CITEREFThomasonKaufman1988 (help) spell out the idea of creole exceptionalism, claiming that creole languages are an instance of nongenetic language change due to language shift with abnormal transmission. Gradualists question the abnormal transmission of languages in a creole setting and argue that the processes which created today's creole languages are no different from universal patterns of language change.

Given these objections to creole as a concept, DeGraff and others question the idea that creoles are exceptional in any meaningful way. [19] [65] Additionally, Mufwene (2002) harvcoltxt error: no target: CITEREFMufwene2002 (help) argues that some Romance languages are potential creoles but that they are not considered as such by linguists because of a historical bias against such a view.

Creolistics investigates the relative creoleness of languages suspected to be creoles, what Schneider (1990) calls "the cline of creoleness." No consensus exists among creolists as to whether the nature of creoleness is prototypical or merely evidence indicative of a set of recognizable phenomena seen in association with little inherent unity and no underlying single cause.

"Creole", a sociohistoric concept Edit

Creoleness is at the heart of the controversy with John McWhorter [66] and Mikael Parkvall [67] opposing Henri Wittmann (1999) and Michel DeGraff. [68] In McWhorter's definition, creoleness is a matter of degree, in that prototypical creoles exhibit all of the three traits he proposes to diagnose creoleness: little or no inflection, little or no tone, and transparent derivation. In McWhorter's view, less prototypical creoles depart somewhat from this prototype. Along these lines, McWhorter defines Haitian Creole, exhibiting all three traits, as "the most creole of creoles." [69] A creole like Palenquero, on the other hand, would be less prototypical, given the presence of inflection to mark plural, past, gerund, and participle forms. [70] Objections to the McWhorter-Parkvall hypotheses point out that these typological parameters of creoleness can be found in languages such as Manding, Sooninke, and Magoua French which are not considered creoles. Wittmann and DeGraff come to the conclusion that efforts to conceive a yardstick for measuring creoleness in any scientifically meaningful way have failed so far. [71] [72] Gil (2001) comes to the same conclusion for Riau Indonesian. Muysken & Law (2001) have adduced evidence as to creole languages which respond unexpectedly to one of McWhorter's three features (for example, inflectional morphology in Berbice Dutch Creole, tone in Papiamentu). Mufwene (2000) and Wittmann (2001) harvcoltxt error: no target: CITEREFWittmann2001 (help) have argued further that Creole languages are structurally no different from any other language, and that Creole is in fact a sociohistoric concept (and not a linguistic one), encompassing displaced population and slavery. DeGraff & Walicek (2005) harvcoltxt error: no target: CITEREFDeGraffWalicek2005 (help) discuss creolistics in relation to colonialist ideologies, rejecting the notion that Creoles can be responsibly defined in terms of specific grammatical characteristics. They discuss the history of linguistics and nineteenth-century work that argues for the consideration of the sociohistorical contexts in which Creole languages emerged.

"Creole", a genuine linguistic concept Edit

On the other hand, McWhorter points out that in languages such as Bambara, essentially a dialect of Manding, there is ample non-transparent derivation, and that there is no reason to suppose that this would be absent in close relatives such as Mandinka itself. [73] Moreover, he also observes that Soninke has what all linguists would analyze as inflections, and that current lexicography of Soninke is too elementary for it to be stated with authority that it does not have non-transparent derivation. [74] Meanwhile, Magoua French, as described by Henri Wittmann, retains some indication of grammatical gender, which qualifies as inflection, and it also retains non-transparent derivation. [75] Michel DeGraff's argument has been that Haitian Creole retains non-transparent derivation from French.

To the defense of DeGraff and Wittmann it must be said that McWhorter's 2005 book is a collection of previously published papers and that it contains nothing on "defining creole", Manding, Sooninke or Magoua that wasn't already known when DeGraff and Wittmann published their critiques as can be seen from their published debate. [76] As it is, McWhorter's book does not offer anything new by the way of analysis of Manding, Soninke, or Magoua that wasn't already debated on in his exchange with Wittmann on Creolist. The issues in question are, at this point, unresolved as to sustaining McWhorter's hypotheses in any significant way though DeGraff's 2005 contribution addresses their weaknesses as far as Haitian Creole is concerned adding new evidence against. The only conclusion possibly so far as the typological differences between Manding, Soninke, Magoua and Haitian are concerned is that their comparative data do not confirm McWhorter's yardstick approach to defining creole.

Additional resources Edit

Ansaldo, Matthews & Lim (2007) critically assesses the proposal that creole languages exist as a homogeneous structural type with shared and/ or peculiar origins.

Arends, Muysken & Smith (1995) groups creole genesis theories into four categories:

  • Theories focusing on the European input
  • Theories focusing on the non-European input
  • Gradualist and developmental hypotheses
  • Universalist approaches

The authors also confine Pidgins and mixed languages into separate chapters outside this scheme whether or not relexification come into the picture.


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1st French period Edit

Through both the French and Spanish (late 18th century) regimes, parochial and colonial governments used the term Creole for ethnic French and Spanish born in the New World as opposed to Europe. Parisian French was the predominant language among colonists in early New Orleans.

Later the regional French evolved to contain local phrases and slang terms. The French Creoles spoke what became known as Colonial French. Because of isolation, the language in the colony developed differently from that in France. It was spoken by the ethnic French and Spanish and their Creole descendants.

The commonly accepted definition of Louisiana Creole today is a person descended from ancestors in Louisiana before the Louisiana Purchase by the United States in 1803. [3] An estimated 7,000 European immigrants settled in Louisiana during the 18th century, one percent of the number of European colonists in the Thirteen Colonies along the Atlantic coast. Louisiana attracted considerably fewer French colonists than did its West Indian colonies. After the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, which lasted more than two months, the colonists had numerous challenges ahead of them in the Louisiana frontier. Their living conditions were difficult: uprooted, they had to face a new, often hostile, environment, with difficult climate and tropical diseases. Many of these immigrants died during the maritime crossing or soon after their arrival.

Hurricanes, unknown in France, periodically struck the coast, destroying whole villages. The Mississippi Delta was plagued with periodic yellow fever epidemics. Europeans also brought the Eurasian diseases of malaria and cholera, which flourished along with mosquitoes and poor sanitation. These conditions slowed colonization. Moreover, French villages and forts were not always sufficient to protect from enemy offensives. Attacks by Native Americans represented a real threat to the groups of isolated colonists. The Natchez killed 250 colonists in Lower Louisiana in retaliation for encroachment by the Europeans. The Natchez warriors took Fort Rosalie (now Natchez, Mississippi) by surprise, killing many individuals. During the next two years, the French attacked the Natchez in return, causing them to flee or, when captured, be deported as slaves to their Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue (later Haiti).

Casket girls Edit

Aside from French government representatives and soldiers, colonists included mostly young men who were recruited in French ports or in Paris. Some served as indentured servants they were required to remain in Louisiana for a length of time, fixed by the contract of service, to pay back the cost of passage and board. During this time, they were "temporary semi-slaves". To increase the colonial population, the government recruited young Frenchwomen, known as filles à la cassette (in English, casket girls, referring to the casket or case of belongings they brought with them) to go to the colony to be wed to colonial soldiers. The king financed dowries for each girl. (This practice was similar to events in 17th-century Quebec: about 800 filles du roi (daughters of the king) were recruited to immigrate to New France under the monetary sponsorship of Louis XIV.)

In addition, French authorities deported some female criminals to the colony. For example, in 1721, the ship La Baleine brought close to 90 women of childbearing age from the prison of La Salpêtrière in Paris to Louisiana. Most of the women quickly found husbands among the male residents of the colony. These women, many of whom were most likely prostitutes or felons, were known as The Baleine Brides. [10] Such events inspired Manon Lescaut (1731), a novel written by the Abbé Prévost, which was later adapted as an opera in the 19th century.

Historian Joan Martin maintains that there is little documentation that casket girls (considered among the ancestors of French Creoles) were transported to Louisiana. (The Ursuline order of nuns, who were said to chaperone the girls until they married, have denied the casket girl myth as well.) Martin suggests this account was mythical. The system of plaçage that continued into the 19th century resulted in many young white men having women of color as partners and mothers of their children, often before or even after their marriages to white women. [11] French Louisiana also included communities of Swiss and German settlers however, royal authorities did not refer to "Louisianans" but described the colonial population as "French" citizens.

Spanish period Edit

The French colony was ceded to Spain in the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762), in the final stages of the Seven Years' War, which took place on two continents. The Spanish were slow and reluctant to fully occupy the colony, however, and did not do so until 1769. That year Spain abolished Native American slavery. In addition, Spanish liberal manumission policies contributed to the growth of the population of Creoles of Color, particularly in New Orleans. Nearly all of the surviving 18th-century architecture of the Vieux Carré (French Quarter) dates from the Spanish period (the Ursuline Convent an exception). These buildings were designed by French architects, as there were no Spanish architects in Louisiana. The buildings of the French Quarter are of a Mediterranean style also found in southern France. [12]

The mixed-race Creole descendants, who developed as a third class of Creoles of color (Gens de Couleur Libres), particularly in New Orleans, were strongly influenced by the French Catholic culture. By the end of the 18th century, many mixed-race Creoles had gained education and tended to work in artisan or skilled trades a relatively high number were property and slave owners. The Louisiana Creole language developed primarily from the influence of French and African languages, enabling slaves from different tribes and colonists to communicate.

2nd French period and Louisiana Purchase Edit

Spain ceded Louisiana back to France in 1800 through the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso. Napoleon sold Louisiana (New France) to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, following defeat of his forces in Saint-Domingue. He had been trying to regain control of the island colony following a multi-year slave rebellion.

Thousands of refugees from the revolution, both whites and affranchis or Gens de Couleur Libres, arrived in New Orleans, often bringing their African slaves with them. These groups had a strong influence on the city, increasing the number of French speakers, Africans with strong traditional customs, and Creoles of Color. The Haitian Revolution ended in the slaves gaining independence in 1804, establishing the second republic in the Western Hemisphere and the first republic led by black people. While Governor Claiborne and other officials wanted to keep out additional free black men, the French Creoles wanted to increase the French-speaking population. As more refugees were allowed in Louisiana, Haitian émigrés who had first gone to Cuba also arrived. [13] Many of the white Francophones had been deported by officials in Cuba in retaliation for Bonapartist schemes in Spain. [14] After the Purchase, many Americans were also migrating to Louisiana. Later European immigrants included Irish, Germans, and Italians.

During the antebellum years, the major commodity crops were sugar and cotton, cultivated on large plantations along the Mississippi River outside the city with slave labor. Plantations were developed in the French style, with narrow waterfronts for access on the river, and long plots running back inland.

Nearly 90 percent of early 19th century immigrants to the territory settled in New Orleans. The 1809 migration from Cuba brought 2,731 whites 3,102 Gens de Couleur Libres and 3,226 enslaved people of African descent, which in total doubled the city's population. The city became 63 percent black in population, a greater proportion than Charleston, South Carolina's 53 percent. [13]

The transfer of the French colony to the United States and the arrival of Anglo-Americans from New England and the South resulted in a cultural confrontation. Some Americans were reportedly shocked by aspects of the culture and French-speaking society of the newly acquired territory: the predominance of the French language and Roman Catholicism, the free class of mixed-race people, and the strong African traditions of enslaved peoples. They pressured the United States' first governor of the Louisiana Territory, W.C.C. Claiborne, to change it.

Particularly in the slave society of the South, slavery had become a racial caste. Since the late 17th century, children in the colonies took the status of their mothers at birth therefore, all children of enslaved mothers were born into slavery, regardless of the race or status of their fathers. This produced many mixed-race slaves over the generations. Whites classified society into whites and blacks (the latter associated strongly with slaves). Although there was a growing population of free people of color, particularly in the Upper South, they generally did not have the same rights and freedoms as Creoles of Color in Louisiana under French and Spanish rule, who held office in some cases and served in the militia. For example, around 80 free Creoles of Color were recruited into the militia that fought in the Battle of Baton Rouge in 1779. [15] And 353 free Creoles of Color were recruited into the militia that fought in the Battle of New Orleans in 1812. [16] Later on, some of the descendants of these Creole of Color veterans of the Battle of New Orleans, like Caesar Antoine, went on to fight in the American Civil War.

When Claiborne made English the official language of the territory, the French Creoles of New Orleans were outraged, and reportedly paraded in protest in the streets. They rejected the Americans' effort to transform them overnight. In addition, upper-class French Creoles thought that many of the arriving Americans were uncouth, especially the rough Kentucky boatmen (Kaintucks) who regularly visited the city, having maneuvered flatboats down the Mississippi River filled with goods for market.

Realizing that he needed local support, Claiborne restored French as an official language. In all forms of government, public forums, and in the Catholic Church, French continued to be used. Most importantly, Louisiana French and Louisiana Creole remained the languages of the majority of the population of the state, leaving English and Spanish as minority languages.

Colonists referred to themselves and enslaved Black people who were native-born as Creoles to distinguish them from new arrivals from France and Spain as well as Africa. [3] Native Americans, such as the Creek people, intermixed with Creoles also, making three races present in the ethnic group.

Like "Cajun," the term "Creole" is a popular name used to describe cultures in the southern Louisiana area. "Creole" can be roughly defined as "native to a region," but its precise meaning varies according to the geographic area in which it is used. Generally, however, Creoles felt the need to distinguish themselves from the influx of American and European immigrants coming into the area after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. "Creole" is still used to describe the heritage and customs of the various people who settled Louisiana during the early French colonial times. In addition to the French Canadians, the amalgamated Creole culture in southern Louisiana includes influences from the Chitimacha, Houma and other native tribes, enslaved West Africans, Spanish-speaking Isleños (Canary Islanders) and French-speaking gens de couleur libres from the Caribbean. [17]

As a group, mixed-race Creoles rapidly began to acquire education, skills (many in New Orleans worked as craftsmen and artisans), businesses and property. They were overwhelmingly Catholic, spoke Colonial French (although some also spoke Louisiana Creole), and kept up many French social customs, modified by other parts of their ancestry and Louisiana culture. The Creoles of Color often married among themselves to maintain their class and social culture. The French-speaking mixed-race population came to be called "Creoles of color". It was said that "New Orleans people of color were far wealthier, more secure and more established than freed unmixed Black Creoles and Cajuns elsewhere in Louisiana." [5]

Under the French and Spanish rulers, Louisiana developed a three-tiered society, similar to that of Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, Saint Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe and other Latin colonies. This three-tiered society included white Creoles a prosperous, educated group of mixed-race Creoles of European, African and Native American descent and the far larger class of African and Black Creole slaves. The status of mixed-race Creoles of color (Gens de Couleur Libres) was one they guarded carefully. By law they enjoyed most of the same rights and privileges as white Creoles. They could and often did challenge the law in court and won cases against white Creoles. They were property owners and created schools for their children. In many cases though, these different tiers viewed themselves as one group, as other Iberoamerican and Francophone ethnic groups commonly did. Race did not play as central a role as it does in Anglo-American culture: oftentimes, race was not a concern, but instead, family standing and wealth were key distinguishing factors in New Orleans and beyond. [3] The Creole civil rights activist Rodolphe Desdunes explained the difference between Creoles and Anglo-Americans, concerning the widespread belief in racialism by the latter, as follows:

The groups (Latin and Anglo New Orleaneans) had "two different schools of politics [and differed] radically . in aspiration and method. One hopes [Latins], and the other doubts [Anglos]. Thus we often perceive that one makes every effort to acquire merits, the other to gain advantages. One aspires to equality, the other to identity. One will forget that he is a Negro to think that he is a man the other will forget that he is a man to think that he is a Negro. [18]

After the United States acquired the area in the Louisiana Purchase, mixed-race Creoles of Color resisted American attempts to impose their binary racial culture. In the American South slavery had become virtually a racial caste, in which most people of any African descent were considered to be lower in status. The planter society viewed it as a binary culture, with whites and blacks (the latter including everyone other than whites, although for some years they counted mulattos separately on censuses). [3]

In 1799, Greek immigrant Andrea Dimitry married Marianne Céleste Dragon, a woman of African and Greek ancestry. Andrea Dimitry's children were upper-class, elite Creoles. They were mostly educated at Georgetown University. Their son Alexander Dimitry was the first person of color to represent the United States as Ambassador to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. [19] [20] [21]

While the American Civil War promised rights and opportunities for the enslaved, many Creoles of Color who had long been free before the war worried about losing their identity and position. The Americans did not legally recognize a three-tiered society nevertheless, some Creoles of Color such as Thomy Lafon, Victor Séjour and others, used their position to support the abolitionist cause. [22] One Creole of Color, Francis E. Dumas, emancipated all of his slaves and organized them into a company in the Second Regiment of the Louisiana Native Guards. [23] Alexander Dimitry was one of the few people of color to take on a leadership role within the Confederate Government. His son, John Dimitry, fought for the color company of the Crescent City Native Guards.

Following the Union victory in the Civil War, the Louisiana three-tiered society was gradually overrun by more Anglo-Americans, who classified everyone by the South's binary division of "black" and "white". During the Reconstruction era, Democrats regained power in the Louisiana state legislature by using paramilitary groups like the White League to suppress black voting. The Democrats enforced white supremacy by passing Jim Crow laws and a constitution near the turn of the 20th century that effectively disenfranchised most blacks and Creoles of color through discriminatory application of voter registration and electoral laws. Some white Creoles, such as the ex-Confederate general Pierre G. T. Beauregard, advocated against racism, and became proponents of Black Civil Rights and Black suffrage, involving themselves in the creation of the Louisiana Unification Movement that called for equal rights for blacks, denounced discrimination and the abandonment of segregation. [24] [25]

The US Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 supported the binary society and the policy of "separate but equal" facilities (which were seldom achieved in fact) in the segregated South. [3] Some white Creoles, heavily influenced by white American society, increasingly claimed that the term Creole applied to whites only. According to Virginia R. Domínguez:

Charles Gayarré . and Alcée Fortier . led the outspoken though desperate defense of the Creole. As bright as these men clearly were, they still became engulfed in the reclassification process intent on salvaging white Creole status. Their speeches consequently read more like sympathetic eulogies than historical analysis. [26]

Sybil Kein suggests that, because of the white Creoles struggle for redefinition, they were particularly hostile to the exploration by the writer George Washington Cable of the multi-racial Creole society in his stories and novels. She believes that in The Grandissimes, he exposed white Creoles' preoccupation with covering up blood connections with Creoles of Color. She writes:

There was a veritable explosion of defenses of Creole ancestry. The more novelist George Washington Cable engaged his characters in family feuds over inheritance, embroiled them in sexual unions with blacks and mulattoes and made them seem particularly defensive about their presumably pure Caucasian ancestry, the more vociferously the white Creoles responded, insisting on purity of white ancestry as a requirement for identification as Creole. [26]

In the 1930s, populist Governor Huey Long satirized such Creole claims, saying that you could feed all the "pure white" people in New Orleans with a cup of beans and a half a cup of rice, and still have food left over! [27] The effort to impose Anglo-American binary racial classification on Creoles continued, however. In 1938, in Sunseri v. Cassagne—the Louisiana Supreme Court proclaimed traceability of African ancestry to be the only requirement for definition of colored. And during her time as Registrar of the Bureau of Vital Statistics for the City of New Orleans (1949–1965), Naomi Drake tried to impose these binary racial classifications. She unilaterally changed records to classify mixed-race individuals as black if she found they had any black (or African) ancestry, an application of hypodescent rules, and did not notify people of her actions. [28]

Among the practices Drake directed was having her workers check obituaries. They were to assess whether the obituary of a person identified as white provided clues that might help show the individual was "really" black, such as having black relatives, services at a traditionally black funeral home, or burial at a traditionally black cemetery—evidence which she would use to ensure the death certificate classified the person as black. [29] Not everyone accepted Drake's actions, and people filed thousands of cases against the office to have racial classifications changed and to protest her withholding legal documents of vital records. This caused much embarrassment and disruption, finally causing the city to fire her in 1965. [30]

In the wake of the "Cajun Renaissance" of the 1960s and 1970s, the (often racialized) Creole identity has traditionally received less attention than its Cajun counterpart. However, the late 2010s have seen a minor but notable resurgence of the Creole identity among linguistic activists of all races, [31] including among white people whose parents or grandparents identify as Cajun or simply French. [32] [33] Contemporary French-language media in Louisiana, such as Télé-Louisiane or Le Bourdon de la Louisiane, often use the term Créole in its original and most inclusive sense (i.e. without reference to race), and some English-language organizations like the Historic New Orleans Collection have published articles questioning the racialized Cajun-Creole dichotomy of the mid-twentieth century. [34] Documentaries such as Nathan Rabalais' Finding Cajun examine the intersection and impact of Creole culture on what is commonly described as Cajun, [35] likewise questioning the validity of recent racialization.

Cuisine Edit

Louisiana Creole cuisine is recognized as a unique style of cooking originating in New Orleans, starting in the early 1700s. It makes use of what is sometimes called the Holy trinity: onions, celery and green peppers. It has developed primarily from various European, African, and Native American historic culinary influences. A distinctly different style of Creole or Cajun cooking exists in Acadiana.

Gumbo (Gombô in Louisiana Creole, Gombo in Louisiana French) is a traditional Creole dish from New Orleans with French, Spanish, Native American, African, German, Italian, and Caribbean influences. It is a roux-based meat stew or soup, sometimes made with some combination of any of the following: seafood (usually shrimp, crabs, with oysters optional, or occasionally crawfish), sausage, chicken (hen or rooster), alligator, turtle, rabbit, duck, deer or wild boar. Gumbo is often seasoned with filé, which is dried and ground sassafras leaves. Both meat and seafood versions also include the "Holy Trinity" and are served like stew over rice. It developed from French colonists trying to make bouillabaisse with New World ingredients. Starting with aromatic seasonings, the French used onions and celery as in a traditional mirepoix, but lacked carrots, so they substituted green bell peppers. Africans contributed okra, traditionally grown in regions of Africa, the Middle East and Spain. Gombo is the Louisiana French word for okra, which is derived from a shortened version of the Bantu words kilogombó or kigambó, also guingambó or quinbombó. "Gumbo" became the anglicized version of the word 'Gombo' after the English language became dominant in Louisiana. In Louisiana French dialects, the word "gombo" still refers to both the hybrid stew and the vegetable. The Choctaw contributed filé the Spanish contributed peppers and tomatoes and new spices were adopted from Caribbean dishes. The French later favored a roux for thickening. In the 19th century, the Italians added garlic. [ citation needed ] After arriving in numbers, German immigrants dominated New Orleans city bakeries, including those making traditional French bread. They introduced having buttered French bread as a side to eating gumbo, as well as a side of German-style potato salad. [ citation needed ]

Jambalaya is the second of the famous Louisiana Creole dishes. It developed in the European communities of New Orleans. It combined ham with sausage, rice and tomato as a variation of the Spanish dish paella, and was based on locally available ingredients. The name for jambalaya comes from the Occitan language spoken in southern France, where it means "mash-up." The term also refers to a type of rice cooked with chicken.

Today, jambalaya is commonly made with seafood (usually shrimp) or chicken, or a combination of shrimp and chicken. Most versions contain smoked sausage, more commonly used instead of ham in modern versions. However, a version of jambalaya that uses ham with shrimp may be closer to the original Creole dish. [36]

Jambalaya is prepared in two ways: "red" and "brown". Red is the tomato-based version native to New Orleans it is also found in parts of Iberia and St. Martin parishes, and generally uses shrimp or chicken stock. The red-style Creole jambalaya is the original version. The "brown" version is associated with Cajun cooking and does not include tomatoes.

Red beans and rice is a dish of Louisiana and Caribbean influence, originating in New Orleans. It contains red beans, the "holy trinity" of onion, celery, and bell pepper, and often andouille smoked sausage, pickled pork, or smoked ham hocks. The beans are served over white rice. It is one of the famous dishes in Louisiana, and is associated with "washday Monday". It could be cooked all day over a low flame while the women of the house attended to washing the family's clothes.

Music Edit

Zydeco (a transliteration in English of 'zaricô' (snapbeans) from the song, "Les haricots sont pas salés"), was born in black Creole communities on the prairies of southwest Louisiana in the 1920s. It is often considered the Creole music of Louisiana. Zydeco, a derivative of Cajun music, purportedly hails from Là-là, a genre of music now defunct, and old south Louisiana jurés. As Louisiana French and Louisiana Creole was the lingua franca of the prairies of southwest Louisiana, zydeco was initially sung only in Louisiana French or Creole. Later, Louisiana Creoles, such as the 20th-century Chénier brothers, Andrus Espree (Beau Jocque), Rosie Lédet and others began incorporating a more bluesy sound and added a new linguistic element to zydeco music: English. Today, zydeco musicians sing in English, Louisiana Creole or Colonial Louisiana French.

Today's Zydeco often incorporates a blend of swamp pop, blues, and/or jazz as well as "Cajun Music" (originally called Old Louisiana French Music). An instrument unique to zydeco is a form of washboard called the frottoir or scrub board. This is a vest made of corrugated aluminum, and played by the musician working bottle openers, bottle caps or spoons up and down the length of the vest. Another instrument used in both Zydeco and Cajun music since the 1800s is the accordion. Zydeco music makes use of the piano or button accordion while Cajun music is played on the diatonic accordion, or Cajun accordion, often called a "squeeze box". Cajun musicians also use the fiddle and steel guitar more often than do those playing Zydeco.

Zydeco can be traced to the music of enslaved African people from the 19th century. It is represented in Slave Songs of the United States, first published in 1867. The final seven songs in that work are printed with melody along with text in Louisiana Creole. These and many other songs were sung by slaves on plantations, especially in St. Charles Parish, and when they gathered on Sundays at Congo Square in New Orleans.

Among the Spanish Creole people highlights, between their varied traditional folklore, the Canarian Décimas, romances, ballads and pan-Hispanic songs date back many years, even to the Medieval Age. This folklore was carried by their ancestors from the Canary Islands to Louisiana in the 18th century. It also highlights their adaptation to the Isleño music to other music outside of the community (especially from the Mexican Corridos). [2]

Language Edit

Louisiana Creole (Kréyol La Lwizyàn) is a French Creole [37] language spoken by the Louisiana Creole people and sometimes Cajuns and Anglo-residents of the state of Louisiana. The language consists of elements of French, Spanish, African and Native American roots.

Louisiana French (LF) is the regional variety of the French language spoken throughout contemporary Louisiana by individuals who today identify ethno-racially as Creole, Cajun or French, as well as some who identify as Spanish (particularly in New Iberia and Baton Rouge, where the Creole people are a mix of French and Spanish and speak the French language [2] ), African-American, white, Irish, or of other origins. Individuals and groups of individuals through innovation, adaptation, and contact continually enrich the French language spoken in Louisiana, seasoning it with linguistic features that can sometimes only be found in Louisiana. [38] [39] [40] [41] [42]

Tulane University's Department of French and Italian website prominently declares "In Louisiana, French is not a foreign language". [43] Figures from U.S. decennial censuses report that roughly 250,000 Louisianans claimed to use or speak French in their homes. [44]

Among the 18 governors of Louisiana between 1803 and 1865, six were French Creoles and spoke French: Jacques Villeré, Pierre Derbigny, Armand Beauvais, Jacques Dupré, Andre B. Roman and Alexandre Mouton.

According to the historian Paul Lachance, "the addition of white immigrants to the white creole population enabled French-speakers to remain a majority of the white population [in New Orleans] until almost 1830. If a substantial proportion of Creoles of Color and slaves had not also spoken French, however, the Gallic community would have become a minority of the total population as early as 1820." [45] In the 1850s, white Francophones remained an intact and vibrant community they maintained instruction in French in two of the city's four school districts. [46] In 1862, the Union general Ben Butler abolished French instruction in New Orleans schools, and statewide measures in 1864 and 1868 further cemented the policy. [46] By the end of the 19th century, French usage in the city had faded significantly. [47] However, as late as 1902 "one-fourth of the population of the city spoke French in ordinary daily intercourse, while another two-fourths was able to understand the language perfectly," [48] and as late as 1945, one still encountered elderly Creole women who spoke no English. [49] The last major French-language newspaper in New Orleans, L'Abeille de la Nouvelle-Orléans, ceased publication on December 27, 1923, after ninety-six years [50] according to some sources Le Courrier de la Nouvelle Orleans continued until 1955. [51]

Today, it is generally in more rural areas that people continue to speak Louisiana French or Louisiana Creole. Also during the '40s and '50s many Creoles left Louisiana to find work in Texas, mostly in Houston and East Texas. [52] The language and music is widely spoken there the 5th ward of Houston was originally called Frenchtown due to that reason. There were also Zydeco clubs started in Houston, like the famed Silver Slipper owned by a Creole named Alfred Cormier that has hosted the likes of Clifton Chenier and Boozoo Chavais.

On the other hand, Spanish usage has fallen markedly over the years among the Spanish Creoles. Still, in the first half of twentieth century, most of the people of Saint Bernard and Galveztown spoke the Spanish language with the Canarian Spanish dialect (the ancestors of these Creoles were from the Canary Islands) of the 18th century, but the government of Louisiana imposed the use of English in these communities, especially in the schools (e.g. Saint Bernard) where if a teacher heard children speaking Spanish she would fine them and punish them. Now, only some people over the age of 80 can speak Spanish in these communities. Most of the youth of Saint Bernard can only speak English. [2]

New Orleans Mardi Gras Edit

Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday in English) in New Orleans, Louisiana, is a Carnival celebration well known throughout the world. It has colonial French roots.

The New Orleans Carnival season, with roots in preparing for the start of the Christian season of Lent, starts after Twelfth Night, on Epiphany (January 6). It is a season of parades, balls (some of them masquerade balls) and king cake parties. It has traditionally been part of the winter social season at one time "coming out" parties for young women at débutante balls were timed for this season.

Celebrations are concentrated for about two weeks before and through Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras in French), the day before Ash Wednesday. Usually there is one major parade each day (weather permitting) many days have several large parades. The largest and most elaborate parades take place the last five days of the season. In the final week of Carnival, many events large and small occur throughout New Orleans and surrounding communities.

The parades in New Orleans are organized by Carnival krewes. Krewe float riders toss throws to the crowds the most common throws are strings of plastic colorful beads, doubloons (aluminum or wooden dollar-sized coins usually impressed with a krewe logo), decorated plastic throw cups, and small inexpensive toys. Major krewes follow the same parade schedule and route each year.

While many tourists center their Mardi Gras season activities on Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, none of the major Mardi Gras parades has entered the Quarter since 1972 because of its narrow streets and overhead obstructions. Instead, major parades originate in the Uptown and Mid-City districts and follow a route along St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street, on the upriver side of the French Quarter.

To New Orleanians, "Mardi Gras" specifically refers to the Tuesday before Lent, the highlight of the season. The term can also be used less specifically for the whole Carnival season, sometimes as "the Mardi Gras season". The terms "Fat Tuesday" or "Mardi Gras Day" always refer only to that specific day.

Cane River Creoles Edit

While the sophisticated Creole society of New Orleans has historically received much attention, the Cane River area developed its own strong Creole culture. The Cane River Creole community in the northern part of the state, along the Red River and Cane River, is made up of descendants of slavery with a heritage of mostly African along with French, Native Americans, As are other descendants of slaves in Louisiana. Similar Creole migrants from New Orleans and various other ethnic groups who inhabited this region in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The community is located in and around Isle Brevelle in lower Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. There are many Creole communities within Natchitoches Parish, including Natchitoches, Cloutierville, Derry, Gorum and Natchez. Many of their historic plantations still exist. [53] Some have been designated as National Historic Landmarks, and are noted within the Cane River National Heritage Area, as well as the Cane River Creole National Historical Park. Some plantations are sites on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.

Isle Brevelle, the area of land between Cane River and Bayou Brevelle, encompasses approximately 18,000 acres (73 km 2 ) of land, 16,000 acres of which are still owned by descendants of the original Creole families. The Cane River as well as Avoyelles and St. Landry Creole family surnames include but are not limited to: Antee, Anty, Arceneaux, Arnaud, Balthazar, Barre', Bayonne, Beaudoin, Bellow, Bernard, Biagas, Bossier, Boyér, Brossette, Buard, Byone, Carriere, Cassine, Catalon, Chevalier, Chretien, Christophe, Cloutier, Colson, Colston, Conde, Conant, Coutée, Cyriak, Cyriaque, Damas, DeBòis, DeCuir, Deculus, Delphin, De Sadier, De Soto, Dubreil, Dunn, Dupré. Esprit, Fredieu, Fuselier, Gallien, Goudeau, Gravés, Guillory, Hebert, Honoré, Hughes, LaCaze, LaCour, Lambre', Landry, Laurent, LéBon, Lefìls, Lemelle, LeRoux, Le Vasseur, Llorens, Mathés, Mathis, Métoyer, Mezière, Monette, Moran, Mullone, Pantallion, Papillion, Porche, PrudHomme, Rachal, Ray, Reynaud, Roque, Sarpy, Sers, Severin, Simien, St. Romain, St. Ville, Sylvie, Sylvan, Tournoir, Tyler, Vachon, Vallot, Vercher and Versher. (Most of the surnames are of French and sometimes Spanish origin). [53]

Pointe Coupee Creoles Edit

Another historic area to Louisiana is Pointe Coupee, an area northwest of Baton Rouge. This area is known for the False River the parish seat is New Roads, and villages including Morganza are located off the river. This parish is known to be uniquely Creole today a large portion of the nearly 22,000 residents can trace Creole ancestry. The area was noted for its many plantations and cultural life during the French, Spanish, and American colonial periods.

The population here had become bilingual or even trilingual with French, Louisiana Creole, and English because of its plantation business before most of Louisiana. The Louisiana Creole language is widely associated with this parish the local mainland French and Creole (i.e., locally born) plantation owners and their African slaves formed it as communication language, which became the primary language for many Pointe Coupee residents well into the 20th century. The local white and black populations as well as people of blended ethnicity spoke the language, because of its importance to the region Italian immigrants in the 19th century often adopted the language. [54]

Common Creole family names of the region include the following: Aguillard, Amant, Bergeron, Bonaventure, Boudreaux, Carmouche, Chenevert, Christophe, Decuir, Domingue, Duperon, Eloi, Elloie, Ellois, Fabre, Francois, Gaines, Gremillion, Guerin, Honoré, Jarreau, Joseph, Morel, Olinde, Porche, Pourciau, St. Patin, Ricard, St. Romain, Tounoir, Valéry and dozens more. [55]

Brian J. Costello, an 11th generation Pointe Coupee Parish Creole, is the premiere historian, author and archivist on Pointe Coupee's Creole population, language, social and material culture. Most of his 19 solely-authored books, six co-authored books and numerous feature articles and participation in documentaries since 1987 have addressed these topics. He was immersed in the area's Louisiana Creole dialect in his childhood, through inter-familial and community immersion and is, therefore, one of the dialect's most fluent, and last, speakers.

Avoyelles Creoles Edit

Avoyelles Parish has a history rich in Creole ancestry. Marksville has a significant populace of French Creoles. The languages that are spoken are Louisiana French and English. This parish was established in 1750. The Creole community in Avoyelles parish is alive and well and has a unique blend of family, food and Creole culture. Creole family names of this region are: Auzenne, Barbin, Beaudoin, Biagas, Bordelon, Boutte, Broussard, Carriere, Chargois, DeBellevue, DeCuir, Deshotels, Dufour, DuCote, Esprit, Fontenot, Fuselier, Gaspard, Gauthier, Goudeau, Gremillion, Guillory, Lamartiniere, Lemelle, Lemoine, LeRoux, Mayeux, Mouton, Moten, Muellon, Normand, Perrie, Rabalais, Ravarre, Saucier, Sylvan Tounouir and Tyler. [56] A French Creole Heritage day has been held annually in Avoyelles Parish on Bastille Day since 2012.

Evangeline Parish Creoles Edit

Evangeline Parish was formed out of the northwestern part of St. Landry Parish in 1910, and is therefore, a former part of the old Poste des Opelousas territory. Most of this region's population was a direct result of the North American Creole & Métis influx of 1763, the result of the end of the French & Indian War which saw former French colonial settlements from as far away as "Upper Louisiana" (Great Lakes region, Indiana, Illinois) to "Lower Louisiana's" (Illinois, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama), ceded to the Thirteen Colonies. The majority of these French Creoles and Métis peoples chose to leave their former homes electing to head for the only 'French' exempted settlement area in Lower Louisiana, the "Territory of Orleans" or the modern State of Louisiana.

These Creoles and Métis families generally did not remain in New Orleans and opted for settlement in the northwestern "Creole parishes" of higher ground. This area reaches upwards to Pointe Coupee, St. Landry, Avoyelles and what became Evangeline Parish in 1910. Along with these diverse Métis & Creole families came West Indian slaves (Caribbean people).

Still later, Saint-Domingue/Haitian Creoles, Napoleonic soldiers, and 19th century French families would also settle this region. One of Napoleon Bonaparte's adjutant majors is actually considered the founder of Ville Platte, the parish seat of Evangeline Parish. General Antoine Paul Joseph Louis Garrigues de Flaugeac and his fellow Napoleonic soldiers, Benoit DeBaillon, Louis Van Hille, and Wartelle's descendants also settled in St. Landry Parish and became important public, civic, and political figures. They were discovered on the levee in tattered uniforms by a wealthy Creole planter, "Grand Louis' Fontenot of St. Landry (and what is now, Evangeline Parish), a descendant of one of Governor Jean-Batiste LeMoyne, Sieur de Bienville's French officers from Fort Toulouse, in what is now the State of Alabama. [57]

Many Colonial French, Swiss German, Austrian, and Spanish Creole surnames still remain among prominent and common families alike in Evangeline Parish. Some later Irish and Italian names also appear. Surnames such as, Ardoin, Aguillard, Mouton, Bordelon, Boucher, Brignac, Brunet, Buller (Buhler), Catoire, Chapman, Coreil, Darbonne, DeBaillion, DeVille, DeVilliers, Duos, Dupre', Esprit, Estillette, Fontenot, Guillory, Gradney, LaFleur, Landreneau, LaTour, LeBas, LeBleu, LeRoux, Milano-Hebert, Miller, Morein, Moreau, Moten, Mounier, Ortego, Perrodin, Pierotti, Pitre (rare Acadian-Creole), Rozas, Saucier, Schexnayder, Sebastien, Sittig, Soileau, Vidrine, Vizinat and many more are reminiscent of the late French Colonial, early Spanish and later American period of this region's history. [58]

As of 2013, the parish was once again recognized by the March 2013 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature as part of the Creole Parishes, with the passage of SR No. 30. Other parishes so recognized include Avoyelles, St. Landry and Pointe Coupee Parishes. Natchitoches Parish also remains recognized as "Creole".

Evangeline Parish's French-speaking Senator, Eric LaFleur sponsored SR No. 30 which was written by Louisiana French Creole scholar, educator and author, John laFleur II. The parish's namesake of "Evangeline" is a reflection of the affection the parish's founder, Paulin Fontenot had for Henry Wadsworth's famous poem of the same name, and not an indication of the parish's ethnic origin. The adoption of "Cajun" by the residents of this parish reflects both the popular commerce as well as media conditioning, since this northwestern region of the French-speaking triangle was never part of the Acadian settlement region of the Spanish period. [59]

The community now hosts an annual "Creole Families Bastille Day (weekend) Heritage & Honorarium Festival in which a celebration of Louisiana's multi-ethnic French Creoles is held, with Catholic mass, Bastille Day Champagne toasting of honorees who've worked in some way to preserve and promote the French Creole heritage and language traditions. Louisiana authors, Creole food, and cultural events featuring scholarly lectures and historical information along with fun for families with free admission, and vendor booths are also a feature of this very interesting festival which unites all French Creoles who share this common culture and heritage.

St. Landry Creoles Edit

St. Landry Parish has a significant population of Creoles, especially in Opelousas and its surrounding areas. The traditions and Creole heritage are prevalent in Opelousas, Port Barre, Melville, Palmetto, Lawtell, Eunice, Swords, Mallet, Frilot Cove, Plaisance, Pitreville, and many other villages, towns and communities. The Roman Catholic Church and French/Creole language are dominant features of this rich culture. Zydeco musicians host festivals all through the year.

Homemade Andouille Sausage

  • 5 pounds pork shoulder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper, ground
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon pink salt

Chop half of the pork into ¼-inch pieces. Chop the other half into 2-inch hunks. Place both in the fridge to chill for at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

Grind the 2-inch chunks through the small die. Transfer to a large bowl along with the ¼-inch diced pork. Add the seasonings and mix well. Cover and place in the fridge until you're ready to stuff the sausages.

Rinse about 10 feet of beef middle casings, and let soak for 30 minutes. (Just so you know, I halved this recipe, so the sausage is smaller than it would actually be if you made the whole recipe.)

Stuff the casings with the sausage mixture. This is spectacularly easy if you have a sausage stuffing machine it is less so if you're using the Kitchen Aid attachment. Luckily, the beef casings are so wide, you honestly stuff it by hand. A wide funnel would also work.

Tie off both ends, and hang the sausage in the fridge overnight. Didn't I make this process look really easy?

The next day, set up a smoker to about 180 degrees. Add the sausage and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees.

When done, immediately transfer it to an ice bath, and let it cool completely. Stash in the fridge until ready to use.


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Creole, Spanish Criollo, French Créole, originally, any person of European (mostly French or Spanish) or African descent born in the West Indies or parts of French or Spanish America (and thus naturalized in those regions rather than in the parents’ home country). The term has since been used with various meanings, often conflicting or varying from region to region.

In Spanish colonial America, Creoles were generally excluded from high office in both church and state, although legally Spaniards and Creoles were equals. Discrimination arose from Spanish crown policy aimed at rewarding its favoured Spanish subjects with lucrative and honorific colonial posts while excluding Creoles from such positions and severely restricting their commercial activities. Especially in the 18th century, immigrants from Spain (called peninsulares or, with contempt, gachupines and chapetones in Mexico and South America, respectively) who succeeded in business in the colonies aroused the Creoles’ enmity. The Creoles led the revolutions that effected the expulsion of the colonial regime from Spanish America in the early 19th century. After independence in Mexico, Peru, and elsewhere, Creoles entered the ruling class. They were generally conservative and cooperated with the higher clergy, the army, large landowners, and, later, foreign investors.

In the West Indies the noun creole formerly was used to denote descendants of any European settlers, but commonly the term is used more broadly to refer to all the people, whatever their class or ancestry—European, African, Asian, Indian—who are part of the Caribbean culture. In French Guiana the term refers to those who, whatever the colour of their skin, have adopted a European way of life in neighbouring Suriname it refers to descendants of African slaves. In Louisiana in the United States it refers, in some contexts, to French-speaking white descendants of early French and Spanish settlers and, in other contexts, to a person of mixed black and white ancestry speaking a form of French and Spanish.

In different parts of Latin America the term creole has various referents: it may denote any local-born person of pure Spanish extraction it may refer more restrictively to members of old-line families of predominantly Spanish descent who have roots in the colonial period or it may simply refer to members of urban Europeanized classes, as contrasted with rural Indians. In such countries as Peru, the adjective creole describes a certain spirited way of life. Important expressions of that way of life are the abilities to speak wittily and persuasively on a wide range of topics, to turn a situation to one’s advantage, to be masculine (macho), to exhibit national pride, and to participate in fiestas and other sociable activities with a certain gusto a person exhibiting those characteristics is described as muy criollo (“very creole”).

Watch the video: History of the Quadroon Ball (July 2022).


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