Patois (ˈpætwɑː, pl. /ˈpætwɑːz/) is any language that is considered nonstandard
Nonstandard dialect
A nonstandard dialect is a dialect that does not have the institutional support or sanction that a standardized dialect has.Like any dialect, a nonstandard dialect has its own vocabulary and an internally consistent grammar and syntax; and it may be spoken using a variety of accents. Describing a...

, although the term is not formally defined in linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

. It can refer to pidgin
A pidgin , or pidgin language, is a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common. It is most commonly employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the...

s, creoles
Creole language
A creole language, or simply a creole, is a stable natural language developed from the mixing of parent languages; creoles differ from pidgins in that they have been nativized by children as their primary language, making them have features of natural languages that are normally missing from...

, dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

s, and other forms of native or local speech, but not commonly to jargon
Jargon is terminology which is especially defined in relationship to a specific activity, profession, group, or event. The philosophe Condillac observed in 1782 that "Every science requires a special language because every science has its own ideas." As a rationalist member of the Enlightenment he...

 or slang
Slang is the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's language or dialect but are considered more acceptable when used socially. Slang is often to be found in areas of the lexicon that refer to things considered taboo...

, which are vocabulary-based forms of cant
Cant (language)
A Cant is the jargon or argot of a group, often implying its use to exclude or mislead people outside the group.-Derivation in Celtic linguistics:...

. 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".


The term patois comes from French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, from Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 patois "incomprehensible speech, rude language", but beyond that its origin is uncertain. One derivation is that it derives from Old French patoier meaning "to gesticulate, handle clumsily, to paw", from pate "paw", from Low Franconian
Old Dutch
In linguistics, Old Dutch denotes the forms of West Franconian spoken and written in the Netherlands and present-day northern Belgium during the Early Middle Ages. It is regarded as the primary stage in the development of a separate Dutch language...

 *patta "paw, sole of the foot" + -ois, a linguistic suffix similar to English -ish/-ese. The language sense may have arisen from the notion of a clumsy manner of speaking. Alternatively it may derive from Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 patria (homeland) referring to the localised spread of the language variety.


In France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and other Francophone
The adjective francophone means French-speaking, typically as primary language, whether referring to individuals, groups, or places. Often, the word is used as a noun to describe a natively French-speaking person....

 countries, patois has been used to describe non-Parisian French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 and so-called regional
Regional language
A regional language is a language spoken in an area of a nation state, whether it be a small area, a federal state or province, or some wider area....

 or nonstandards languages such as Breton
Breton language
Breton is a Celtic language spoken in Brittany , France. Breton is a Brythonic language, descended from the Celtic British language brought from Great Britain to Armorica by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages. Like the other Brythonic languages, Welsh and Cornish, it is classified as...

, Occitan, and Franco-Provençal
Franco-Provençal language
Franco-Provençal , Arpitan, or Romand is a Romance language with several distinct dialects that form a linguistic sub-group separate from Langue d'Oïl and Langue d'Oc. The name Franco-Provençal was given to the language by G.I...

, 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
Jean Jaurès
Jean Léon Jaurès was a French Socialist leader. Initially an Opportunist Republican, he evolved into one of the first social democrats, becoming the leader, in 1902, of the French Socialist Party, which opposed Jules Guesde's revolutionary Socialist Party of France. Both parties merged in 1905 in...

 said "one names patois the language of a defeated nation". However, 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
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

 forms of English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 spoken in the Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 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, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Amerindian, and English along with several African languages. Some islands have creole dialects influenced by their linguistic diversity; French, Spanish, Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, German, Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and others. Patois are also spoken in the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

 and other Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

 and Guyana
Guyana , officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and of the British...

 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
Creole language
A creole language, or simply a creole, is a stable natural language developed from the mixing of parent languages; creoles differ from pidgins in that they have been nativized by children as their primary language, making them have features of natural languages that are normally missing from...

; in fact, in the Francophone Caribbean
French West Indies
The term French West Indies or French Antilles refers to the seven territories currently under French sovereignty in the Antilles islands of the Caribbean: the two overseas departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique, the two overseas collectivities of Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy, plus...

 the analogous term for local variants of French is créole (see also Jamaican English
Jamaican English
Jamaican English or Jamaican Standard English is a dialect of English spoken in Jamaica. It melds parts of both American English and British English dialects, along with many aspects of Irish intonation...

 and Jamaican Creole
Jamaican Creole
Jamaican Patois, known locally as Patois or Jamaican, and called Jamaican Creole by linguists, is an English-lexified creole language with West African influences spoken primarily in Jamaica and the Jamaican diaspora. It is not to be confused with Jamaican English nor with the Rastafarian use of...

). The French patois of the Lesser Antilles
Lesser Antilles
The Lesser Antilles are a long, partly volcanic island arc in the Western Hemisphere. Most of its islands form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, with the remainder located in the southern Caribbean just north of South America...

 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
Trasianka or trasyanka is a Belarusian–Russian mixed language. It can also be described as a kind of interlanguage. It is often labeled "pidgin" or even "creole", which is not correct by any widespread definition of pidgin or creole language. The motivation for labelling Trasianka as...

, Sheng, and Tsotsitaal
Tsotsitaals are a variety of mixed languages mainly spoken in the townships of Gauteng province, such as Soweto, but also in other agglomerations all over South Africa...



Also named "Patuá" in the Paria Peninsula
Paria Peninsula
Paria Peninsula is a large peninsula in Sucre State, northern Venezuela. It separates the Gulf of Paria and Caribbean Sea. Península de Paria National Park is located on the peninsula...

 of Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, spoken since the 18th century by self colonization of French people (from Corsica
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

) and Caribbean people (from Martinique
Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of . Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. To the northwest lies Dominica, to the south St Lucia, and to the southeast Barbados...

, Saint Thomas, Trinidad
Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. With an area of it is also the fifth largest in...

, Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe is an archipelago located in the Leeward Islands, in the Lesser Antilles, with a land area of 1,628 square kilometres and a population of 400,000. It is the first overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. As with the other overseas departments, Guadeloupe...

, Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

) who moved for cacao production. Patois is spoken fluently in Dominica
Dominica , officially the Commonwealth of Dominica, is an island nation in the Lesser Antilles region of the Caribbean Sea, south-southeast of Guadeloupe and northwest of Martinique. Its size is and the highest point in the country is Morne Diablotins, which has an elevation of . The Commonwealth...

 and Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia is an island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the Lesser Antilles, it is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique. It covers a land area of 620 km2 and has an...

 in the Caribbean.

Popular culture

The hip hop group Das Racist
Das Racist
Das Racist is an alternative hip hop group based in Brooklyn, New York City, composed of MCs Himanshu Suri , and Victor Vazquez and hype man Ashok Kondabolu...

 released the album Shut Up, Dude
Shut Up, Dude
Shut Up, Dude is the first mixtape by Brooklyn based alternative hip hop act Das Racist, released as a free download in March 2010, through their own Greedhead imprint and streetwear brand Мишка.-History:...

as a free mix-tape in March 2010; the fifth track on this album is "Fake Patois", which engages issues of authenticity in popular culture.

In the 2004 novel I am Charlotte Simmons
I Am Charlotte Simmons
I Am Charlotte Simmons is a 2004 novel by Tom Wolfe, concerning sexual and status relationships at the fictional Dupont University, closely modeled after Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University...

, the author, Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe
Thomas Kennerly "Tom" Wolfe, Jr. is a best-selling American author and journalist. He is one of the founders of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s.-Early life and education:...

, repeatedly refers to standard university speech in the USA as "Fuck Patois" due to the prevalence of the four-letter word in so much of modern university vernacular.
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