Adopt and adapt written Kreol
The development of a register within the Sunni Muslim community in Mauritius
Focusing on madrassah Islamiyat textbooks written in Kreol by two local textbook writers for use in Sunni madrassahs in Mauritius, the present study shows how the writers have adopted Kreol, enriching and adapting it with loanwords from Arabic, to communicate religious information to the children attending the madrassah. The corpus for this study being a sample of locally produced Islamiyat textbooks, document analysis constituted the primary method of data collection and analysis. Interviews with the textbook writers were carried out in order to obtain insiders’ insights into the strategies they used to convey Islamic ideas in Kreol, a language not lexically equipped for this. The analysis reveals that the textbook writers used ‘loanwords by necessity’ – cultural borrowings (Haspelmath 2009) that were adapted through transliteration (Hassan 2016) – for proper names and honorifics, as well as for people, objects, practices and beliefs. A search in the Diksioner Morisien (Carpooran 2011) reveals that a majority of these loanwords do not currently appear in the Dictionary, suggesting the emergence of a new register. I thus argue that at the grassroots level, the Sunni Muslim community is in the process of developing a new religious register of Kreol, which is currently being used and which is also being transmitted to younger generations through the madrassahs. This reflects the Mauritian Sunni Muslims’ strong sense of attachment to Kreol, a language that tends to be associated with the Creole community in Mauritius.
Keywords: madrassah, Islamiyat textbooks, Mauritius, Sunni Muslims
Published online: 13 May 2020
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