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Jean-Louis Calvet & Robert Chaudenson, Saint-Barthélemy: Une énigme linguistique. Paris: Diffusion Didier Erudition/CIRELFA-Agence de la Francophonie, 1998. Pp. 165.

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 May 2001

Albert Valdman
Creole Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405,


Saint Barthélemy (SB) has long remained a linguistic enigma. This islet – home of an indigenous, mostly White population of about 3,000 – is divided into at least three linguistic zones: one whose vernacular is a French-based creole; the second, a northern French (oïl) dialect; and the third, English. Calvet, a leading French sociolinguist, and Chaudenson, an eminent French creolist, have set out to explain how, as a result of social insularity triggered by intertwined geographical and economic factors, an apparently ethnically homogeneous population, established on a 25-sq.-km. isolate, became so linguistically diverse. They also provide a brief comparative description of the French-related varieties used by this population, and an indication of its linguistic attitudes (as reflected by the testimony of teenage members of its two subcommunities).

© 2000 Cambridge University Press

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