Vol. 18:1 (1997) ► pp.65–89
The English Language in Mauritius
Past and Present
Mauritius was a British colony for almost 200 years, but except in the domains of administration and teaching, the English language was never really spoken on the island. This article traces its local history and its failure to establish itself as a replacement for French (and perhaps also the French-based creole) during the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. English is still the official language of Mauritius, but a large proportion of the population does not speak it at all or has at best a very limited knowledge of it. Nonetheless, no other language spoken on the island presents itself as a viable alternative. The historical overview and the discussion of the present situation are complemented by an analysis of the language tables taken from the population censuses of 1931 to 1990 and some data from an inquiry made by the author in the mid-seventies. To complete the study, the English influence on French and Creole is shown, and three specimens of Mauritian English as spoken by young people are given and commented on.
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