The official languages of the island nation of Seychelles are Seychellois Creole, English, and French. However, Seychellois Creole is the most widely spoken language in the country, and the vast majority of Seychelles residents identify as native Seychellois Creole speakers.
Official Languages of Seychelles
Seychellois Creole is one of the three official languages of the island nation of Seychelles. Seychellois Creole is a French-based creole language and is locally referred to as seselwa or kreol. According to records from Ethnologue, there were an estimated 73,000 Seychellois Creole native speakers in Seychelles in 1998, making it the most widely spoken language in the country. Seychellois Creole is one of the six languages that make up the Bourbonnais Creole language group. The other languages in this group are Rodriguan Creole, Mauritian Creole, Reunion Creole, Agalega Creole, and Chagossian Creole. Seychellois Creole and Reunion Creole share low mutual intelligibility despite the fact that both languages are French-based creole languages. There is only one existing distinct dialect of Seychellois Creole in the country, which is Chagossian Creole, and its native speakers are the few Chagossians who inhabit the country.
Seychellois Creole was adopted as an official language in Seychelles after the country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1975. Soon after, the government of Seychelles decided it was necessary to establish an institution to develop the language further, and therefore the Creole Institute, known locally as Lensiti Kreol, was established. The Creole Institute is mandated to codify Seychellois Creole as well as establish the language’s orthography. The national anthem of Seychelles, known as the Koste Seselwa, was composed by George Charles Robert Payet and David Francois Marc Andre, who originally wrote it in Seychellois Creole and later translated it into English and French.
English is another official and commonly language spoken in Seychelles. Seychellois Creole is by far the most widely spoken language in the country, but English is used in most formal communications, particularly by the government when drafting of legal documents, in court proceedings, as well as in parliamentary proceedings. English is also commonly used in Seychelles’ corporate world, as well as in most print and electronic media. English was introduced to Seychelles when the country fell under British colonial rule during the 19th century. For more than a century, English was used as the sole official language in the British colony until the country gained independence in 1976.
French, another of the three official languages of Seychelles, is also widely spoken in the island nation. The language is popular among the minority ethnic group in Seychelles, known as the Franco-Seychellois. French was introduced in Seychelles during the island’s occupation by France from the 18th and to early 19th centuries. The Franco-Seychellois people were originally African slaves who settled in Seychelles at the time of French occupation. French also enjoys popularity in Seychelles due to its similarity to Seychellois Creole.