While English is the official language of Saint Lucia most locals also speak a French-based Creole Patois, which can often be heard in the conversations of everyday life on island. As many of the elderly citizens rely primarily on the Patios, it is also used in select radio news and community interest programs as well as at many public meetings, particularly in the rural south of the island.
While Patois is primarily French-based, it also includes elements of African languages and of that spoken by the Carib Amerindians, who inhabited the island and were assimilated during colonization.
A few decades ago saw an effort on the island to eliminate the Patois as it was seen as a ‘lower class slang’ and an impediment to employment opportunities and to Saint Lucia’s overall image. Recently, however, this view has dramatically changed as the language is now recognized as an important part of the Saint Lucia’s culture and has clearly become a source of national pride.
Linguists categorize the Patois as a form of Antillean Creole; many other countries in the region have their own closely related dialects of Antillean Creole which can be generally understood. In total, it is estimated that over one million people can speak it.