Lank Jan has its roots in the late 1670s and 1680s, when francophone Catholic missionaries settled in Se’asho, hoping to convert the local Wymgani population. The missionaries’ aim was to “civilise and christianise”. They attempted to convince Wymgani to adopt Western agricultural practices, and also set up a school.
This was before linguist Yves Noël had carried out his famous study of the Wymgani language, and it took time for Wymgani and missionaries to adopt an efficient way to communicate. The school’s education system was in French, and some Wymgani parents sent their children there – essentially, it seems, out of curiosity. Indigenous Ariddians also expressed some interest in Western agricultural techniques. Efforts to convert Wymgani to Christianity, however, were a failure.
Since few Wymgani resided with the missionaries or attended their school on a truly regular basis, they picked up only rudimentary French. Gradually, however, a pidgin language began to evolve, one that the missionaries learnt to communicate in too, until they finally left in the eary 18th century. The pidgin language remained, and was used by Wymgani to interact with other francophone settlers. When the town (later city) of Haven was founded on Se’asho, and a smallish Wymgani community settled there, this pidgin language – Lank Jan – was their medium of communication with the white settlers.
Today, it is still spoken alongside the Wymgani language, and is a recognised minority language in the PDSRA. It is taught in schools and at the University of Haven; there are also books published in Lank Jan.
Grammatically, Lank Jan incorporates elements of both French and Wymgani. Its vocabulary is mostly derived from French, but pronounced in such a way as to be almost unrecognisible. The term “Lank Jan” itself (with a French ‘’j’’, as in “bonjour”, and the French ‘’an’’, as in the word “an” [“year”]) comes from “langue [des] gens” – i.e., “language [of (the)] people”.
|On va’i pansé||On va / Je vais y penser||“I’ll / We’ll think about it”|
|Tu npa oobli j’ecli||N’oublies pas de m’écrire||“Don’t forget to write to me”|
|On va magliv lala||Je vais à la librairie / bibliothèque juste là bas||“I’m going to the bookshop / library just over there”|
|Il papa il suh||C’est le père de sa soeur||“He’s his sister’s father”|
|Sé bokoo bén||C’est très bien||“That’s very good / I’m pleased”|
|On fè pati duh anè col université||Mon frère est à l’université depuis deux ans||“My brother’s been at university for two years now”|
|On mash loot lala duh san mèt can vwah Eul, il soti magliv, il npa on vwah||Je marchais dans la rue là-bas à deux cent mètres quand j’ai vu Eul sortir de la bibliothèque, mais il ne m’a pas vu||“I was walking down the street over there, about two hundred metres from here, when I saw Eul come out of the library, but he didn’t see me”|