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#1838: Haitian Creole as violent language? DeGraff comments (fwd)
From: Michel DeGraff <degraff@MIT.EDU>
Is it true that Haitians are conditioned to act violently because of the
language they speak?
In the words of Jean Jean-Pierre, we Haitians are
"conditioned by our progenitors and [do we] continue to condition our off
springs to use a vocabulary that ...] has the potent power of self
Jean Jean-Pierre gives examples such as "M pral kraze yon mayi moulen" and
"M pral kraze yon lanme`". For him, the idiomatic uses of the verb "kraze"
in these examples show the INHERENTLY-VIOLENT character of Haitian Creole.
Such reasoning is more indicative of the fatalistic view of some Haitians
about themselves then about the (psycho-analytic?) nature of Haitian
Indeed, let's turn to the next language over. How about English? Are
Anglophones also conditioned by a language that has the "potent power of
self prophecy". Doesn't English also make widespread idiomatic uses of the
word "break"? Would anyone argue that English speakers are conditioned to
violence by the English vocabulary?
Witness the following examples --- all from the Oxford English Dictionary:
Darling, you're BREAKING my heart.
Can you BREAK this 5-dollar bill for me?
The Serbs BROKE their agreement.
The clouds are BREAKing.
The darkness is BREAKing.
The weather BREAKing up, they were brought to the mainland.
A whole long month of May made their cheeks paler by the BREAK of June.
The BREAK of the trumpets was so great that they could not bear it.
The man had gone to ground instead of making a BREAK for it.
The musicians BROKE the chord.
The surprise witness BROKE his alibi.
I'll see you before the BREAK of dawn
At age 12, his voice began to BREAK.
The Dow-Jones industrial average will BREAK through 650 this year.
Christians BREAK bread at church.
He's BREAKing his brains with studying
Today the Archbishop is BREAKing fast.
Let's have BREAKfast together.
You first need to wear your new shoes to BREAK them in.
The sailors enjoyed Port-au-Prince so much that they BROKE ship.
Who can BREAK that coded message?
The New York Times BROKE the news this morning.
A big story is going to BREAK.
They BROKE the secret of their clandestine marriage.
The yellow fever BROKE out in Philadelphia.
This conversation topic is a nice ice-BREAKer.
He's not feeling well: he's BREAKing wind.
I hope my business will BREAK even.
She BROKE into wild weeping.
Relieved, he BROKE a smile.
They BROKE a couple of jokes.
They became quite BROKE during the depression.
The pony BROKE into a brisk trot
He'll be anxious to BREAK into the game pretty soon.
He decided recently to BREAK into print.
Her ambition was to BREAK into the motion picture industry.
She BROKE out into a loud Soliloquy.
The exultant French BREAK out in loud rejoicing
Let's have a coffee BREAK.
The students should be allowed 15-minute BREAK.
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