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#1174: DeGraff replies to Corbett: (fwd)

From: Michel DeGraff <degraff@MIT.EDU>

In my humble opinion, Corbett, like (too) many others, fall into the same
methodological (cum ideological?) trap of not considering seriously what it
takes for an entire (virtually MONOLINGUAL) nation to move beyond its
native-language resources to become effectively bi- or multi-lingual.
Again, recall that my own point was NEVER to a priori abolish any form of
bi- or multi-lingualism, but to make the best of Haitians' natural
(i.e. native) linguistic resources.  

Corbett talks about 

  "the need to grow beyond what Haiti's economy and Creole can offer.  I
  strongly suspect a second language, either French or English (I would have
  no care about which), would allow Haitians to move beyond the limits of a
  Creole rooted economy".

But, given what we seem to know (as linguists) about language learning and
given what we know about Haiti's present socio-economic conditions, having
Haiti, AS A NATION, become bi- or multi-lingual requires nothing short of a

So the current choice is between praying for a miracle or learning to make
the best of Haiti's natural resources which, I must repeat, includes
Haitian Creole as the sole language spoken by the majority of Haitians.
The latter proposition is not about to change, independently of any amount
of wishful (wistful) thinking.

MIT Linguistics & Philosophy, 77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge MA 02139-4307
degraff@MIT.EDU        http://web.mit.edu/linguistics/www/degraff.home.html