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#3651: On culture vulturism and respect for Haitians: Vilaire comments

Dear Corbettland, 

I've been wanting to participate in this debate for a while, but "His Majesty with the Power to Censor All" has been vigilant in squashing my earlier post. Hopefully, my comments here are not too late for the debate, and most importantly I hope they pass Corbett's rather uneven set of criteria.

Reading the exchanges between Grey and DeGraff on Haitian Creole orthography, it's difficult for any sensible person not to be revolted by a certain insistence on propagating ignorance over correct and well-established standards. Mind you, all of this hard-headed and ill-conceived approach is done in the name of denouncing somebody else's "culture vulturism." Oh God, please protect us from our friends.

In fact, some of the posts point to an issue much broader than that of language. They illustrate the sheer disrespect and arrogance many of our "friends"
exhibit vis-a-vis Haiti and Haitians -- all with the ostensible objective of helping us. I suppose we must be helped from ourselves, since we do (according to some of our "friends") have a natural propensity to lie and deceive.

May I invite all of us to take a simple look at this debate.

FACT #1: There are CORRECT and WRONG ways of writing Haitian Creole, just as there are for writing English, French, Afrikaan, Arabic, etc.

FACT #2: Fact #1 is easily verifiable by consulting the innumerable litterature available on Haitian Creole.

FACT #3: Grey's knowledge of written Haitian Creole is very limited (if judged by what she has written here on Corbettland).

FACT #4. DeGraff is an accomplished linguist who has devoted his professional life to the study of Haitian Creole -- which, by the way, is his native language.

Yet, witness the following exchange in which Grey attempts to "enlighten" DeGraff:

DeGraff: "In Haitian Creole, "mambo" should be written "manbo" -- according to Haitian  Creole orthography."

Grey responds:
"Incorrect. The word Mambo is not pronounced with an "n" and is not written so in Creole."

Well, DeGraff is right. Grey is wrong. I'm willing to grant that it's a misstep on Grey's part. But that aside, I'm concerned about other cases/areas where the dynamics between competent Haitian experts and some "friends" who swear they know better mirror what we've witnessed here on this issue. Say, in matters pertaining to development, agriculture, elections, police training, family planning, etc. 

The problem is magnified when we consider that many of our  friends a la U.S.A have the force and power of money to enforce their incorrect ideas/thoughts. Even wonder how lies become truths?

For heaven's sake, on something so basic as the correct spelling of "Manbo", all it takes is a trip to one's Haitian Creole dictionary. I would think, actually hope, that our self-proclaimed defenders of Haitian Culture have access to a Haitian Creole dictionary. But then again, more than a dictionary, our "friends" need something much more basic, but which seems to be in very short supply these days: respect for Haitians and the Haitian Creole language we speak.

Marx-Vilaire Aristide
Port-au-Prince, Haiti