French and Creole are the predominant languages spoken by citizens of Martinique. However, in 1958, Article 2 of the French constitution made French a statutory national language. Today, French is spoken by nearly everybody on the island. Most residents also speak Martinique Creole which is a de facto language of national identity. Martinique Creole is a language of Antillean Creole origin closely related to the ones spoken in Saint Luciana and Dominican Republic. Martinique Creole is a hybrid language based on French, Carib, and African languages, with several aspects borrowed from English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The language is primarily based on the 17th-century French-derived vocabulary. In recent times, with the growing number of English-speaking tourists coming in, there has been a growing usage of English language, although this has been restricted to tourist-related industries regions.

As the official language used in government, school and media, French is also the most widely used language. This fact can also be reflected when considering literacy levels on the island which stands at 98%, what this means is, almost everybody in Martinique speaks French. Martinique Creole, on the other hand, is the preferred language for friendly and informal situations.

Although Martinique Creole is like Antillean Creole, the language differs from the latter in vocabulary and grammar which it heavily borrows from French. One of the striking features of this language is in the numbering system, digits and numbers from zero to sixteen, for instance, are specific words, then, from seventeen to nineteen they take on the conventional numbering system: named by using ten plus the digit. Strangely, from sixty to ninety-nine the vigesimal system is applied where the base of 20 is used.

This shows that despite the two dominant languages prevailing, there are pockets of other Caribbean Creole languages and other foreign languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese spoken throughout the island. The English language is on the rise due to the island becoming increasingly popular with English speaking visitors. Hotels and related service providers are being compelled to master the language.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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