Mission-educated girls in 19th century Saint-Louis and their impact on the evolution of Tayo

Karin Speedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Between 1860 and 1920, a creole language, Tayo, emerged as the community language of Saint-Louis a former Marist mission in southern New Caledonia. This article briefly introduces the demographic history of Saint-Louis and the arrival of Melanesian neophytes from different ethno-linguistic areas of the colony before discussing the influence of education on the development of Tayo, the Pacific’s only French-lexified creole language. It closely examines the role played by the mission-educated Saint- Louis girls in the formation of this language of intra-village communication, exploring the teaching conditions at Saint-Louis at both the boys’ and girls’ schools and comparing these with other mission schools in New Caledonia. Highlighting the exceptional nature of the linguistic ecology of Saint-Louis, it considers the reasons why a French-based creole evolved in Saint-Louis as opposed to an indigenous language-based creole or the adoption of one of the Kanak languages spoken by the neophytes as a vehicular language.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-79
Number of pages20
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Tayo
  • creole languages
  • Saint-Louis
  • New Caledonia
  • Mission schools
  • sociolinguistics


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