Laura K Lawless

Byen bonjou!

I’m Laura K Lawless, creator, writer, editor, and CLO (Chief Lawless Officer) of this free online Kréyòl learning site.

I have always loved France, but after living there for 5 years, I found that I was just too cold for several months of the year, even in the south. Then my husband and I spent a month in the French Caribbean in 2011. We fell in love with the beautiful island of Guadeloupe, its friendly people – and, of course, the warm weather, and so we decided to move here two years later.

As an overseas French department, Guadeloupe is part of France (just as Hawaii is part of the US). The official language is French, so we have no problem communicating in the vast majority of situations. However, locals also speak another language known simply as Kréyòl, or more specifically, Kréyòl gwadloupéyen.

A creole is a language that developed from the mixing and simplification of two or more languages, which eventually evolved into a language spoken natively by local populations. Kréyòl gwadloupéyen originally began as French mixed with Carib and several West African languages, and was also influenced by English, Portuguese, and Dutch.

Kréyòl gwadloupéyen is closely related to several other French-based creoles which are often collectively referred to as Kreyol or Antillean Creole. These creoles are spoken all over the Lesser Antilles, including the officially English-speaking islands of Dominica and Saint Lucia. Antillean Creole is in turn related to Haitian Creole, but there are important differences between them. Interestingly, it is said that Haitians can understand Kréyòl gwadloupéyen, but Guadeloupeans have a much harder time understanding Kreyòl ayisyen.

As fluent French speakers, my husband and I don’t need to speak Kréyòl in order to live here, but we’ve found that in social situations, our friends often communicate in Kréyòl with each other, unintentionally leaving us out of the conversation. Despite being French-based, Kréyòl is incomprehensible to us, save the occasional word. So after 8 years we finally bought a couple of books and began learning informally with a neighbor. And since I always find it helpful to type up my notes in order to cement new concepts in my brain, I’ve created this website to share this knowledge with anyone else who might want to learn Kréyòl. I figure as long as I’m collecting this information, I might as well share it – for whatever it’s worth to other Kréyòl learners.

I also decided I need to provide both French and English translations: French because knowing it does help a great deal in learning Kréyòl, and English because just about everything currently available – online and off – is written in French. So this will be a unique resource that I hope will help any English speakers who plan to visit or live in Guadeloupe. Enjoy!

My other sites

You can learn more about me at my personal website, Facebook, and Twitter.