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#2734: French vs. Creole Revisited and Language Endangerment (fwd)


Dear Corbetters,

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)
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