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English is the official language, but while it is a compulsory subject at school and is the language of government and business, not everybody feels comfortable speaking it. French is more widely spoken and is dominant in the media, although it is mother tongue to only a small proportion of the population.

The language spoken most by Mauritians, however, is Creole. Originating as the common tongue among slaves of differing origins, and between them and the colonists, the lingua franca of the island is based largely on French with elements of English, Hindi, Chinese and Malagasy. It is a picturesque language, humorous and very pliable. Despite its widespread use, however, it is neither taught in school nor recognized officially.