It is no surprise to anyone that Mauritius is multilingual. The one and only reason for this mix of languages in Mauritius is that the population is multi-ethnic. They come from all over the world, and it is this linguistic mix that makes the island so charming.
Like many other aspects of the island, the languages in Mauritius have evolved since colonisation. There was a time when the islanders spoke only Persian Arabic, then Dutch, then French, Zulu, English and finally Indian, Chinese and Tamil. Today, the three most commonly used languages in Mauritius are: Mauritian Creole, French and English. In some villages, Bhodjpuri is still used.
The country's constitution does not call for any so-called official language. However, English remains the language of institutions, including Parliament, business, and in the courts, among others. Along with English, French is the most widely used language in schools as a mode of instruction. These are the main reasons why other countries say that Mauritius is both a French-speaking and an English-speaking nation. Another particularity of the island is that its constitution is written in English and its Civil Code is written in French.
Although Mauritians do not have an official language, they do have a language of their own, a mother tongue: Mauritian Creole. Even if the majority of the island's inhabitants are bilingual, there are several people who are trilingual. Others even speak more than one language. Mauritian Creole is spoken on every street corner. Creole is a patois, a mixed language that is close to both English and French… Examples?
E = English / C = Mauritian Creole
Hello (E) - Bonzour (C)
Good evening (E) - Bonsoir (C)
Dog (E) - Lisien (C)
Cat (E) - Satt (C)
In Mauritius, ancestral languages are also part of the local landscape. They include Mandarin, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Pupils, especially at primary level, have to learn English and French, but they have also had the opportunity to study Oriental languages and Mauritian Creole for some years.
For an authentic stay, it is interesting to interact with the locals in their native language! We therefore suggest that you familiarise yourself with Mauritian Creole!
To greet someone
Creole : Alo. Ki manier ? Korek ?
English: Hi, how are you? Everything OK?
Creole : Bonzour. Mo apel …. Kouma ou apele ?
English: Hello, my name is…, what is your name?
Talking about your day
Creole : Azordi, mo finn fer letour lil.
English: Today I went around the island.
Talking about the weather
Creole : Létan-la byen bon zordi
English: The weather is nice today.
Talking about your plans
Creole : Kotsa ou anvi ale / Ki ou anvi fer ?
English: Where do you want to go / What do you want to do?
Creole : Ki dernie pri ou kapav fer ?
English: What was your last price?
On the phone
Creole : Alo, mo kapav koz ek…
English: Hello, can I speak to...
Looking for something
Creole : Bonzour. Mo pe rod…
English: Hello, I'm looking for...
To give thanks for something
Creole : Mersi pou ou linvitasion
English: Thank you for your invitation
Take the bus
Creole : Ki bis bizin pran pou al …
English: Which bus should I take to go to...
Creole : Ki kote nou ete siouple?
English: Where are we please?
Expressing a desire
Creole: Mo anvi aprann inpe creole.
English: I would like to learn some Creole.
Creole : Mo bien kontan.
English: I am very happy.
Creole : Ki nou pou manze ? / Kot nou pou manze ?
English: What are we going to eat / Where are we going to eat?
Creole : Eski ou kapav pa fer manze-la tro for, siouple ?
English: Could you not make it too spicy, please?
Creole : Ale do ! / Ayo ! / Mari sa ! / Manman !
English: Let's go / Ouch, expression of annoyance or surprise / Astonishment, amazement or admiration / Annoyance or mockery (depending on intonation)
Creole : Anplas ! / Kas enn poz / Serye !
English: I'm fine / Take a rest / Cool!
Creole : Mo kontan twa.
English: I love you.
Creole : Fer katakata / Li finn vann so koson / Kwi vide
English: Manners / He broke his piggy bank / No sooner said than done
The Language of Numbers
Creole : Trannsink (35) / vennkat (24) / ventwit (28)
English: A woman or girlfriend/ To eat/ To leave