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#1357: The Kreyol discussion : Bell comments

From: madison bell <mbell@goucher.edu>

I have laid out of the latest Kreyol debate out of fatigue, boredom with 
being slapped upside the head by specialists armed with appropriate 
methodology, &c.  However the mere knowledge that the debate was raging has 
caused me to be visited by these wandering thoughts:

What is actually going to happen in this and other matters may not be what 
one would theoretically desire.  For example, I wish that the system of 
educating Haitians in French (as it exists at the best schools, not the 
worse ones) could be preserved alongside of whatever else develops 
educationally.  It is a great cultural resource to have a nucleus of people 
around whose education is exactly that devised by the 18th century 
Philosophes.  It would be a shame to lose that.  My wish is consonant with 
Richard Morse's idea about trilingualism but I don't know if it is likely 
to be gratified.

Here is something positive I think probably will happen, unplanned as 
likely as not.  It came to me by way of an analogy which I think is 
pertinent, though weird.

For a very long time (ever since the Westernizing efforts of Peter the 
Great) the elite of Russia all spoke French, wrote French, were educated in 
French, and basically did everything in French except communicate with 
their vassals.  Russian was considered to be a backward and barbaric 
tongue.  Then, in the nineteenth century, the intelligentsia turned back to 
Russian, as a language for writing and for intellectual discourse.  The 
result was an incredible flowering of national literature which includes 
the works of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekov and so on.

Something similar is going on in Haiti now, that is in at at least one 
literary circle that I know of, Kreyol is the language for all purposes-- 
discussion, novel and poetry writing, everything.  This in the sort of 
group which I'd guess would have been functioning entirely in French a 
generation back.   This shift in cultural values is right for 
producing  masterpiece literature (and certainly there is no shortage of 
subject matter....)

If a masterpiece literature emerges in the next generation or so, then an 
educational system fully centered on the language in which the masterpieces 
are written is likely to follow.