AskDefine | Define patois

Dictionary Definition



1 a characteristic language of a particular group (as among thieves); "they don't speak our lingo" [syn: cant, jargon, slang, lingo, argot, vernacular]
2 a regional dialect of a language (especially French); usually considered substandard

User Contributed Dictionary



  • pătwä, /pætwɑː/, /p

Extensive Definition

Patois, although without a formal definition in linguistics, can be used to describe a language considered as nonstandard. Depending upon the instance, it can refer to pidgins, creoles, dialects, and other forms of native or local speech, but is not commonly applied to jargon or slang, which are vocabulary-based forms of cant. Class distinctions are embedded in the term, drawn between those who speak patois and those who speak the standard or dominant language used in literature and newscasts—the "acrolect" in professional jargon.
The origin of the French patois is uncertain. One derivation is from Old French patoier meaning "to handle clumsily, to paw". The language sense may therefore arise from the notion of a clumsy manner of speaking. Alternatively it may derive from Latin patria (homeland) referring to the localised spread of the language variety.
In France and other Francophone countries, patois has been used to describe non-Parisian French and so-called regional languages such as Breton, Occitan, and Franco-Provençal, since 1643. The word assumes the view of such languages as being backward, countrified, and unlettered, thus is considered by speakers of those languages as offensive when used by outsiders, although speakers may use the term to refer familiarly to their own language (See also: Languages of France.)
Many of the vernacular forms of English spoken in the Caribbean are also referred to as patois (occasionally spelled in this context patwah). It is noted especially in reference to Jamaican Creole from 1934. Often these patois are popularly considered "bastardizations" of English, "broken English", or slang, but cases such as Jamaican are classified with more correctness as a creole language; in fact, in the Francophone Caribbean the analogous term for local variants of French is creole. (See also: Jamaican English and Jamaican Creole.) Patois is also spoken in the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica.
Other examples of patois include Trasianka, Sheng, and Tsotsitaal.


Also named "Patuá" in the Paria peninsula of Venezuela, spoken since the 18th century by self colonization of French (from Corse island) and Caribbean (Martinique, Saint Thomas, Trinidad, Guadaloupe, Haiti) people moved by cacao production.


patois in Tosk Albanian: Patois
patois in Chuvash: Вырăнти калаçу
patois in German: Patois (Frankreich)
patois in French: Patois
patois in Galician: Patois
patois in Italian: Patois
patois in Hebrew: פטואה
patois in Dutch: Patois
patois in Russian: Говор
patois in Serbian: Патоа

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Acadian, Anglo-Indian, Brooklynese, Cajun, Canadian French, Cockney, French Canadian, Gullah, Midland, Midland dialect, New England dialect, Pennsylvania Dutch, Yankee, Yorkshire, argot, bundle of isoglosses, cant, class dialect, colloquial, dialect, dialect atlas, dialect dictionary, gibberish, gobbledygook, idiom, isogloss, jargon, lingo, linguistic atlas, linguistic community, linguistic island, local dialect, localism, mumbo jumbo, patter, phraseology, provincialism, regional accent, regionalism, scatology, slang, speech community, subdialect, taboo language, vernacular, vocabulary, vulgar language, vulgate
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