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#2734: French vs. Creole Revisited and Language Endangerment (fwd)
I thought you might like to see part of a note entitled "Creole -- Let's Get
Serious", which I recently received from a Haitian (I'll leave his identity
anonymous) in response to the content and spirit of my Creole Web Site
It clearly demonstrates the dichotomy which exists with regard to the
language situation in Haiti. Whether the writer's facts are correct or not,
the sentiment he voices resonates. He is not alone. He just personalized
for me one of the very real barriers facing all those who work for the
advancement of the Creole language.
<< When will the people of Haiti be allowed to go forward with the rest of
the other international islands? Why is it that all those who were educated
in foreign lands to better themselves insist on teaching a foreign language
[Creole] that is not accepted by the international community? Look at some of
our neighbors like St. Lucia. They speak Creole also but their people are
well educated in the English language. Since French is what most of the
documents are written in, why not teach the people French again. It [teaching
Creole] seems like a form of slavery all over again. Oh well, I understand
you are trying to help, but I don't think Creole is the answer for people
suffering from lack of knowledge. Thanks for your time. >>
This note illuminates one of the dangers voiced in a report entitled
"Languages die in the midst of globalisation, cultural repression" issued May
12, 1999 by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).
(It is available at: http://www.woza.co.za/forum/language12.htm)
This report cites from a hearing in the Hague that "the biggest stumbling
block for further development of Creole is in the inherited negative
attitudes towards it in the general population, which is [a] result of the
legacy of slavery and colonialism".
I do not bring these two contrasting documents to the attention of Corbetters
at this time so that we can go around in circles once again on this complex
subject but, rather, to alert advocates for the survival of Creole languages
that, in addition to Kurdish and Berber, this report cites Creole languages
in the Caribbean as suffering from historical neglect, repression and
discrimination -- dynamics which can lead to language endangerment.
These internal dynamics, coupled with the outside pressures of globalization
could very well impede the survival and transition of Haitian Creole into the
sociologies and technicalities of the 21st century.
The Hague report goes on to say: "'Language is essential to human identity.
The denial to [be allowed to] use one's mother tongue constitutes [a] very
serious human rights violation."
If it were my mother tongue in danger of extinction or not yet being
transitionable into the next stages of document storage and conveyance, I'd
get very pro-active. HC is not even my mother tongue but I still cannot just
stand by and do nothing.
Marilyn Mason, President
Mason Integrated Technologies Ltd
P.O. Box 181015
Boston, MA 02118 USA
(617) 247-8885 (office & answering machine)
(617) 262-8923 (FAX)
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