John Jacob Thomas

The theory and practice of creole grammar

New Beacon books

Londres, 1969

bibliothèque insulaire

bannzil kréyòl
The theory and practice of creole grammar / J. J. Thomas ; introduction by Gertrud Buscher. - London : New Beacon books, 1969. - XVIII-VIII-135 p. ; 19 cm.
DESCRIPTION : The Theory and Practice of Creole Grammar was first published in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1869. Thomas was one of the first anywhere to make a study of Creole, recognising this as a new and important developing language. It was a marriage of French and African forms — a parallel, as Thomas thought to the development of the Romance languages from their Latin stem after the Roman Empire had broken up and barbarian peoples had begun to remould Latin according to their own verbal rhythms. The importance of his work was recognised by contemporary philologists and he was elected a member of the Philological Society in London.
GEORGE PADMORE INSTITUTE : The Theory and Practice of Creole Grammar provided the first overview of French-inflected Creole in the Caribbean. It considers Creole as a language in its own right marrying French and African forms, rather than « only mispronounced French ». New Beacon's reprint of John Jacob Thomas's ground breaking book was based on a facsimile reprint of the original 1869 text published by Chronicle Publishing, Port of Spain.


présentation et analyse à lire sur le site du George Padmore Institute.

RAPHAËL CONFIANT : [L'étude] du Trinidadien John Jacob Thomas [comme celles du Guadeloupéen René de Poyen-Bellisle (1890) ou de la Martiniquaise Elodie Jourdain (1951)], entre autres, ne [manquait] certes pas d'intérêt mais se [caractérisait] soit par un conformisme de mauvais aloi soit par une trop grande dépendance à l'endroit de la tradition grammaticale européenne peu adaptée à l'analyse de langues qui, comme les créoles, ne relèvent pas de la seule influence européenne mais aussi d'apports amérindiens et ouest-africains ainsi que d'innovations qui leurs sont propres.

Espace Créole, n° 9 (1999), Introduction (p. 9)


In the course of the linguistic studies with which I occupied my leisure hours, when a Ward-school teacher, at a distant out-station, I turned my attention to our popular patois, for the purpose of ascertaining its exact relation to real French ; and of tracing what analogies of modification, literal or otherwise, existed between it and other derived dialects. These investigations, though prosecuted under the disadvantage of a want of suitable books (which as regards Creole was absolute, and as regards French nearly so), were not altogether fruitless. For I managed to discover, at least in part, the true nature and status of the Creole, in its quality of spoken idiom. Moreover, finding that the Creole, considered in its relation to correct French, exhibits the whole derivative process in actual operation, (and not in fixed results, as is the case in older and more settled dialects,) I thought that a grammar embodying these facts would be useful, as a basis of induction and comparison, to Creole-speaking natives who may desire to study other languages etymologically. Still, it must be confessed that these opinions would not, of themselves alone, have induced me to publish this book — a result brought about by considerations having  a wider and more urgent importance, and bearing upon two cardinal agencies in our social system ; namely, Law and Religion. I might have added Education ; but as I mean to treat separately of the nullifying effects of the patois on English instruction among us, I shall say no more on the matter here.


Preface, pp. III-IV
  • « The theory and practice of creole grammar », Port-of-Spain : The Chronicle publishing office, 1869

mise-à-jour : 4 septembre 2017
John Jacob Thomas : The theory and practic of creole grammarV