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#1150: Bilingualism: Durran replies to Dorce

From: Mary Durran <mdurran@colba.net>
> From:LAKAT47@aol.com

> I think people may be laboring under false assumptions here.  Contrary to
> posts on this thread, the vast majority of Haitians who do not speak
> and live in various levels of poverty, DO NOT wish to be part of the 
> bourgeoisie. 

Yes, I agree with you, they don't.  I don't think the drive to learn French
of some non-French speaking Haitians is anything to do with wanting to be
part of the bourgeoisie.  Rather, some members of the bourgeoisie use
French to affirm their membership of this elite group  - these are the ones
who get embarrassed about speaking Creole in public. 

 What non-French speaking Haitians 
> aspire to is the capability to make enough money to give them and their 
> families a decent life.  (Much like most everyone in the world)

You're right.  Some decide to make a living from farming, developing their
businesses, and in  many cases they don't need to know French.  Others
leave the country for the diaspora and don't need to know French (unless
they go to Montreal). But a non-French speaking Haitian who aspires to a
university education or to working in a bank, in public administration, or
becoming a teacher, lawyer, judge, doctor - and
wants to stay in their country - has no choice the way things stand at the
moment but to learn French.  I am not saying this is a good thing, this is
just the way things are, and they are unlikely to change overnight. 

  Perhaps the 
> answer to this Kreyol/French conundrum is for the minority French
speakers of 
> Haiti to stop devaluing Kreyol and Kreyol speakers as low class and a
> of one's uneducated status.  Integration of Haiti's two distinct 
> personalities needs to happen so that Haiti can become functional.  That
> the importance of this thread.

Again, I agree with you  - but the minority French speakers are also the
powerful people in the country, and how does one get this powerful minority
to stop devaluing Creole?  Of course, over a period of several generations,
this devaluation could be gradually phased out with seriously implemented
policies that affirm Creole as the language of Haitians.  But in the
meantime, the non French-speaking Haitian who wants to become a
professional and stay in Haiti has no choice but to learn French.