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#1234: About Creole: Barnes comments
From: J Barnes <email@example.com>
I want to congratulate Michel Degraff on his persistance with the language
issue. It is a very dramatic problem which has no intermediate solution.
An example: Last week -end I was listening to a Haitian radio show in Boston
during which political pundits were discussing whether or not Preval had
already violated the electoral law. Apparently the law states that a public
servant must not declare his favoritism for a candidate or party "dans
l'exercice de ses fonctions". These people were claiming that even if
Preval was campaining for LAVALAS, he could do so on week-ends, in his free
time. I dare say that if that law was written in Creole it would simply say
something like: "Prezidan an pa gen dwa fh kanpay pandan li prezidan
toujou". I believe that the uncertainty would be gone if the electoral law
was in Creole. I don't even think it is necessary to write in French first,
then translate. In fact the translation adds to the problem. Every one of
the authors of the electoral law knows how to speak Creole. I would even
propose that if something cannot be expressed in Creole, it has no real
meaning, it should be stricken from the laws. The first version of every
important document for Haiti should be in Creole.
My recent story about how the youth and what they do with language was
simply to say that children don't always learn what we want to teach them.
They figure out what is important to them and they try to learn it.
I want to relate this to the Haitian psyche in general. Every time we
Haitian doing something we consider wrong or ignorant we take it as an
example of what it means to be Haitian and we say "Ayisyen, woo!" And we
want to detach from this compatriot as a brother or sister. We rarely go to
analyze why this person is doing this wrong or ignorant thing. One of the
most amazing features of Haitians however is how smart they are at figuring
out systems. Often, what is perceived as this wrong and ignorant act is a
very caculated attempt to beat the system or profit from it. If people
remember this they will stop being frustrated with many things that happen
in Haiti that seem to disturb the proper course. To return to the electoral
law example: Why is it written in French? Because it is in the advantage of
the ruling party to build a distrust of the electoral process. It cannot be
a simple oversight by a group of people who claim to represent or defend the
most destitute sector of the Haitian population.
I think Michel is a perfect "Ti landeng". He has studied the linguistic
situation with the perceptual acuity of a true Haitian and has found
extraordinary problems in the conventional analysis of the Haitian Creole
panorama. Thank you Michel. The next question is: When does one stop
being a thorn on the establishment's side and become the builder of a better
functioning system? I think Guy Antoine has some good ideas about that.