Tayo Creole

Native to France (New Caledonia)
Native speakers 900  (2009 census)
Language family
French Creole
  • Pacific
    • Tayo
Language codes
ISO 639-3 cks
Linguist List

Tayo, also known as "patois de Saint-Louis", is a French-based Creole spoken in New Caledonia. It is the community language of one village, Saint-Louis, which is situated approximately 17 kilometres from the capital Noumea.[1]

From 1860 Saint-Louis was a Marist mission that attracted groups of Melanesians speaking a number of mutually incomprehensible languages to the mission schools or seminary.[2] Saint-Louis was also an important agricultural centre and the Marists were noted for their production of sugar and rum.[3] Workers from various ethnic and social backgrounds, including people from Vanuatu, French Polynesia, Réunion island in the Indian Ocean, India, Malaysia, Java (Indonesia) and as far away as West Africa and the West Indies, as well thousands of French convicts worked the land in and around the mission.

Tayo emerged by about 1920 out of a need for a language of inter-ethnic communication. Its lexicon is drawn mainly from French (the French of the Marists, of the convicts and possibly from the varieties of Reunion creole spoken by the planters and indentured workers who came into contact with the Kanaks of Saint-Louis).[4] Its grammar and syntax are strongly influenced by the Melanesian languages of the early inhabitants[5] but structures also have congruence with varieties of French and, to some extent, with Reunion creole.[6]


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