Languages In Mauritius - A Traveller's Guide

'Language is the roadmap of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.'  Travelling is not just about visiting places and meeting new people, but understanding the culture of people. And understanding of a culture will be the best when you know the language of the locals. Being a traveller to faraway lands is not easy; you interact with people who are entirely different from you. Language brings with it a different type of experience and welcome, which you otherwise would not have received.

Here are some useful phrases and languages are spoken in Mauritius that might be helpful for your visit to the island country:

What are the Languages of Mauritius

Mauritius is a multi-lingual country. Being very diverse, the people of Mauritius speak a variety of languages.  Though there is no national language according to the constitution of Mauritius, French and English are used for official purposes.

Official Language of Mauritius

French and English not only enjoy a greater social status but are also dominantly used in professional and educational fields.

Besides English, French, Mauritian Creole, French-based Creole, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, Malayalam, Urdu and Mandarin are also spoken by various ethnic communities of Mauritius. All of them speak either English or French and are bilingual, if not trilingual.

A bilingual signboard in Mauritius, Languages in Mauritius

1. Mauritian Creole - The Native Language of Mauritius

Around 90 per cent of Mauritians speaks the Creole, which is a mixture of parent languages of French, English and few Indian and African languages. It is visible that the language is highly influenced by immigrants from China and India. Mauritian Creole is considered to be the native language of Mauritians. It is not used in formal contexts and is limited to informal conversations.

A standard script for this Creole does not exist. This language saw its origins in the late 18th century when the slaves arrived on the Island. They used a pidgin language to communicate amongst themselves and also with their French masters who could not understand the African languages. Over the generations, this pidgin developed into a language, which is now casually used by all residents despite their diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Useful Phrases in Creole

If you walk into the villages of Boris Cheri, there is a high possibility that you come across a person who waives at you saying 'Bonzur'. Don't you worry, he just said 'Hi'. Here is a guide to the most common phrases and words that you might require when you visit Mauritius.

Phrases and Translation

Hello Bonzur
Why?Ki fer?
Thank youMerci
Who?Ki sa na?
PleaseS'il vous plait
WhereKote sa?
I don't understandMo pas compran
Excuse meExkize moi
How are you?Ki Many'r?
My name is...Mo nom li...
I am from...Me sort...
What's your name?Ki ou non?
Looking forPe rod

2. Bhojpuri - A Regional Language of Mauritius

It might be surprising to know that this North-Central Indian language is also spoken in Mauritius. 5.3% of Mauritians speak Bhojpuri. Termed as the most rapidly developing language in the world, Bhojpuri has a different dialect in Mauritius. Here is a translation guide for useful phrases and words in Bhojpuri.

Welcomeaain naa
How are you?kaa haal ba?
What's your name?tohar naav kaa ha?
I don't understandnaikhe samajh mein aavti
Please speak slowlytani aahista aahista bola
Please say that againtani dubaara kaha
Excuse memaaf Karin
Sorrymaaf Karin
Pleasemeharbani karke
Thank youdhanvaad
Helpmadad kara
Call the policepulis ko bulaava

3. French

French is spoken by 4.3% of Mauritians. Besides, French is also used both as an official language and as a medium in education. It is considered to be one of the principal languages of Mauritius. Mauritius shares this distinction of being a both English and French-speaking country with Canada, Cameroon and Vanuatu. Here are a few useful phrases and words in French that might come in handy.

PleaseS'il vous plait(see-voo-play)
Thank youMerci( mair-see)
GoodbyeAu revior(oh-reu-vwar)
I don't understandJe ne comprehends pas( zhue neu kompron par)
I don't speakJen ne parle pas francais( zheu neu parl par fron-say)
I wantJe veux (zheu veu)
I amJe suis(zheu swee)
I am looking forJe cherche (zheu share-sh)
To eatManger (mon-zhay)
To drinkBoire(bwar)
To playPayer(pay-yeh)
To buyAcheter(ash-tay)
Toilet/washroomLa toilette(lar twa-lette)
Some waterDe l'eau(deu-lo)
A bankUne banque(une bonk)
We are lostNous sommes perdus(noo voolon allay are)
With this guide, it will be an easy trail for you in Mauritius. Next time, you don't have to look for a local guide to order food or ask for directions.

This post was published by Sravya Vemuri

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