What does it mean, chinbo?

The word chinbo [tʃɛ̃ bo] means to hold, to “hold well” (literally), hold on, or keep. Another manner in which one will hear it said is chombo [tʃɔ̃ bo].


Chinbo li dan tô lamin. (Hold it in your hand.)

To ka chombo in ségré? (Can you keep a secret?)


History of Kouri-Vini

Kouri-Vini, also known as Louisiana Creole, is the critically endangered Creole language native to Louisiana. It formed among enslaved communities during the French colonial period in the early 18th century. In certain regions it became the lingua franca (common language), spoken by enslaved and free peoples across racial lines.

By the end of the 20th century, the number of speakers had decreased significantly. Today, most remaining speakers of Kouri-Vini (Louisiana Creole) are concentrated in southern Louisiana as well as parts of the Gulf Coast (former territories of colonial Louisiana now present-day Mississippi and Alabama) and Louisiana Creole diasporic communities in southeastern Texas, California, and Illinois.

Kouri-Vini is experiencing revitalization initiated by members of the Louisiana Creole community, some of whom began their work almost twenty years ago. Currently, there are more heritage language (re)learners studying Kouri-Vini than before World War I.

Louisiana civil parishes in which Kouri-Vini (Louisiana Creole) is still found, but are not limited to, include Iberia, Lafayette, Lafourche, Natchitoches, Pointe Coupée, St. James, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, and St. Tammany.

Language Myths

Mit Langaj

Myth: Kouri-Vini and Louisiana Creole are two different languages.

Fact: Kouri-Vini is the manner in which some speakers refer to the Louisiana Creole language.

Myth: Kouri-Vini is broken French or a dialect of French.

Fact: Kouri-Vini is its own separate language from French with verb tenses, adjectives, subject-pronouns, and has its own literature. It formed early in 18th Century French Louisiana as a result of African, Indigenous, and European language contact during slavery and colonization.

Myth: Kouri-Vini is a dialect of Haitian Creole.

Fact: Creole languages developed in their respective environments around the world. Kouri-Vini was spoken in Louisiana prior to the mass migration of Haitians during and after the Haitian Revolution.

Myth: Kouri-Vini is only spoken by People of Color.

Fact: Kouri-Vini has always been spoken by people of various phenotypes and identities.

Myth: Kouri-Vini was only spoken by adults so that their children couldn’t understand their conversations.

Fact: Adults spoke Kouri-Vini to each other because they were accustomed to speaking with one another in the language. Because of laws regarding education, Americanization of the culture, children didn’t have the same exposure to the language. As a consequence adults were able to speak in a language that children didn’t understand.

Myth: Kouri-Vini is an oral language and was never written down.

Fact: Kouri-Vini has been written in several different orthographies in court records, newspapers, and other publications since the early 18th Century. The earliest known documented evidence of its written existence appears in court records from 1729-1732. Today's orthography was created specifically for Kouri-Vini.

Identity Myths

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Myth: Louisiana Creole is a race.

Fact: Louisiana Creole is a culture and a language that consists of people from different ethnicities and identities.

Myth: Louisiana Creole Culture was formed by Cajuns and Haitians.

Fact: Louisiana Creole Culture, Language, and People have been around since 1718.

Myth: All Louisiana Creoles are exotic, mixed race, or are racially ambiguous.

Fact: Louisiana Creoles have no distinct phenotype and come in different shades and hues ranging from light to dark.

Myth: All Louisiana Creoles come from New Orleans.

Fact: Louisiana Creoles are not limited to New Orleans, there are Creoles throughout the Gulf South region of Louisiana, Southeast Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Louisiana Creole diaspora exists in various enclaves such as Chicago and the California Coast.

Misconceptions about Learning Kouri-Vini

Zafè mal komprenn pou aprenn kouri-vini

Misconception: There’s no use in learning another language when everyone speaks English.

Fact: The majority of the world is at least bilingual. Research shows knowing more than one language is better for children, combats alzheimers, provides new perspectives, nurture relationships between cultures, and often provides unique career opportunities.

Misconception: Learning Kouri-Vini is a waste of time.

Fact: Kouri-Vini is an integral facet of Louisiana culture and identity. It allows us to understand our history and heritage in our own language.

Misconception: Learning to speak the language without having to read and write it is sufficient.

Fact: Learning to speak the language is very important, though having the ability to read and write it grants the language further longevity. Through literature, text written in the language can furnish educational resources, document thoughts and ideas to be shared much like people do in many other languages, and can provide a valid form of self-expression at any age and stage in one's life.

Misconception: There aren’t places nor spaces for me to speak the language with people.

Fact: There’s an increasing number of people who are reclaiming Kouri-Vini. Groups gather on-line through various social media and video conferencing platforms as well as in-person meet-ups.

Misconception: There aren’t enough resources to start learning.

Fact: There are audio, visual, and text-based resources available to learn the language.

Misconception: Children can’t learn if no one in the house speaks the language.

Fact: If people in the household work together, they can learn the language as a family.

Misconception: There’s not enough time in the day to learn.

Fact: People must choose to make learning Kouri-Vini a priority. However, just 10 minutes per day equals progress.

Misconception: Learning new languages is for younger people.

Fact: People can learn at any age and stage in their life.

Orthography Guide | Gid lotograf

Shared with permission from MYLHCV

De Ladjèl o Shaval: A talk with the creators of the Kouri-Vini Orthography
Gou é Gèt 2023
Video walkthrough of the orthography guide

* For info: some videos in the playlists above may use older orthographies

Stories in Kouri-Vini

Kouri-Vini Learning

Music in Kouri-Vini

Videos in Kouri-Vini

Poems in Kouri-Vini

Names in Kouri-Vini

Featured Videos | Vidjo-yé

The Sound of Kouri-Vini

Credit: iLoveLanguages channel

Greetings and Salutations

Credit: Christophe Landry, Ph.D. channel

Phrases in Kouri-Vini

Credit: Louisianish channel