"Our Gaulish ancestors, blond locks and mule-headed, long moustaches and heavy horses, knew only that refrain" sang Cayenne-born and bred Henri Salvador in 1960. And the refrain in question seems to have been written to mark the appearance of Asterix in Pilote a few months prior: "Let's laugh, let's laugh, before the sky falls on our heads"!
We are now in 2008, the sky has still not fallen on our heads, and whilst the travels of Asterix and Obelix have not yet taken them to the Caribbean, their adventures are making great waves today in Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Haiti and the isle of Marie-Galante. We are therefore very pleased to present you with the first translation of an Asterix album in Creole!
The honour has fallen to Asterix and the Great Divide, renamed Gran Kannal La in Creole. Asterix in Creole, ok - but what kind? Because when you talk about Creole, there's a large choice: "rek", "swa", "dragon", "tjòlòlò", "basilectal" Creole, "acrolectal" Creole…. From Louisiana to French Guiana and all the way along the arc of Caribbean islands, all the former French, English and Dutch colonies have their own Creole.
The inhabitants of the village in the Great Divide have been split into two: in Gran Kannal La the right-hand side of the village speaks in Guadeloupe Creole whereas the left side of the village uses Martinique Creole. The Asterix village distinguishes itself by speaking a Martinique Creole "miganné" - or "mixed" as we learn from the French / Creole glossary published in the album - with Guadeloupe expressions as spoken by Caribbean settlers, originally from Guadeloupe and Martinique, who emigrated to France. For the Romans, the publisher uses a "Creole acrolect" or a "Proto-Creole"… These Creoles are crazy!
Not to be forgotten, other varieties of Creole make notable appearances: for example, on the page introducing the characters, readers will find Creole from French Guiana, the Îles des Saintes and Haiti. And as an added bonus, the famous magnifying glass from the inside page of Asterix albums focuses for the first time on the islands of "Gwadloup", "Donmik" and "Matnik"! These translations ultimately prove to be a great "laugh", much as Henri Salvador advised us, while also providing an enjoyable introduction to the Creole language.
See also : Asterix in Réunion Creole
Asterix in Creole: an analysis of character names by Exlibris