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Patois is any language that is considered nonstandard, although the term is not formally defined in linguistics. It can refer to pidgins, creoles, dialects, and other forms of native or local speech, but not commonly to jargon or slang, which are vocabulary-based forms of cant. Class distinctions are embedded in the term, drawn between those who speak patois and those who speak the standard or dominant language used in literature and public speaking, i.e., the "acrolect".

Contents

Etymology

The term patois comes from French, but beyond that its origin is uncertain. One derivation[1] is from Old French patoier meaning "to handle clumsily, to paw". The language sense may therefore arise from the notion of a clumsy manner of speaking. Alternatively[2] it may derive from Latin patria (homeland) referring to the localised spread of the language variety.

Examples

In France and other Francophone countries, patois has been used to describe non-Parisian French and so-called regional languages such as Breton, Occitan, and Franco-Provençal, since 1643. The word assumes the view of such languages as being backward, countrified, and unlettered, thus is considered by speakers of those languages as offensive when used by outsiders. Jean Jaurès said "one names patois the language of a defeated nation"[3]. Speakers may use the term in a non-derogatory sense to refer familiarly to their own language (See also: Languages of France.)

Many of the vernacular forms of English spoken in the Caribbean are also referred to as patois (occasionally spelled in this context patwah). It is noted especially in reference to Jamaican Patois from 1934. Jamaican Patois language comprises words of the native languages of the many races within the Caribbean including Latin, Spanish, Hindi, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Amerindian, and English along with several African dialects. Some islands have creole dialects influenced by their linguistic diversity; French, Spanish, Latin, Hindi, Arabic, Hebrew, German, Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and others. Patois are also spoken in the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica and other Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana in South America.

Often these patois are popularly considered "bastardizations" of English, "broken English", or slang, but cases such as Jamaican patois are classified with more correctness as a creole language; in fact, in the Francophone Caribbean the analogous term for local variants of French is créole. (See also: Jamaican English and Jamaican Creole.) The French patois of the Lesser Antilles are dialects of French which contain some Caribe and African words. Such dialects often contain folk-etymological derivatives of French words, for example lavier ("river, stream") which is a syncopated variant of the standard French phrase la rivière ("the river") but has been identified by folk etymology with laver, "to wash"; therefore lavier is interpreted to mean "a place to wash" (since such streams are often used for washing laundry).

Other examples of patois include Trasianka, Sheng, and Tsotsitaal.

Synonyms

Also named "Patuá" in the Paria peninsula of Venezuela, spoken since the 18th century by self colonization of French people (from Corsica) and Caribbean people (from Martinique, Saint Thomas, Trinidad, Guadaloupe, Haiti) who moved for cacao production.

References

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PATOIS, a French term strictly confined to the dialect of a district or locality in a country which has a common literary language, often used of the form of a common language as spoken by illiterate or uneducated persons, marked by vulgarisms in pronunciation, grammar, &c. The origin of the word is not certain. It has been taken to be a corruption of patrois, from Low Lat. partriensis, of or belonging to one's patria, or native country, fatherland.


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