Language use and language attitudes in New Caledonia with particular reference to French Creole Tayo

Type of content
Journal Article
Publisher's DOI/URI
Thesis discipline
Degree name
Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Bissoonauth, Anu

New Caledonia has an unusual language dynamic in comparison to other French overseas territories. In most of these islands, a French Creole is usually the lingua franca and has a lower status than French. In contrast, in New Caledonia the French Creole, called Tayo, is a minority language and comes in contact with French, English and 28 Indigenous languages (also called Kanak languages). The 2014 census population revealed a multi-ethnic and multicultural New- Caledonian population. It did not, however, record the rate of multilingualism in speakers. Results from a recent sociolinguistic study on patterns of language use and language attitudes revealed that French is perceived as the ‘cement language’ that binds all Neo-Caledonians. English on the other hand, is considered the global language of the Pacific, and as such is more valued than Indigenous and migrant languages by the younger generations. In contrast, Creole Tayo, the only French Creole in the Pacific, acts as an identity marker and ‘code’ amongst its small group of speakers when they do not want ‘outsiders’ to know what they were saying.

language attitudes, Tayo, Kanak languages, English, French, New Caledonia
Ngā upoko tukutuku/Māori subject headings
ANZSRC fields of research
CC BY 4.0