[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

#1881: Language and violence: DeGraff comments on Jean-Pierre's reply (fwd)

From: Michel DeGraff <degraff@MIT.EDU>

Is Jean Jean-Pierre trying to draw a GENERAL correlation between choice of
`violent' words and specific acts of violence (rape, say)? His example:

> When some of us say M pral KRAZE ti Marie sex with Marie), there is
> strong chance that we use KRAZE to demean Marie.  Which sometimes leads
> to using violence -- physical or other kinds -- against Marie.  When a
> Tonton Macoute says `M'pral KRAZE bouda'w" (I'm going to beat the shit
> out of you), he usually does do that literally.

What does this have to do with Haitian Creole WORDS per se?  I've been
assuming that in general we chose words to try to reflect and convey our
thoughts and inner states and emotions, not the other way around.

I wonder what sorts of language Justin Volpe used before "beating the shit
out" of Abner Louima --- and literally so!  Did Volpe use Creole or
English?   It obviously doesn't matter: Volpe's rage toward Louima preceded
his "choice of words".  His words, like his actions, were an expression of
his hatred --- the broomstick didn't make him do it, and neither did his

As far as I can tell, violent behavior is not the exclusive province of any
one language or any one choice of words.  Again compare English and Creole:
Violence by Haitians is minuscule when compared to the sorts of violence
committed under the umbrella of British and American imperialism in
Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, etc. --- see e.g. Chomsky's
book "Year 501: The Conquest Continues"...  

We should take a more cautious and global view before castigating Creole by
drawing spurious generalizations out of isolated examples.

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