Friday, October 28, 2005

Kreyòl Pale, [krēōl'] Konprann

Today is International Creole Day. To celebrate this day, a few words in that tongue, shall we?

Jodi a se Jounen Entènasyonal Lang ak Kilti Kreyòl. Sa vle di tout moun ki pale kreyòl sou latè ap fete bèl lang sa a ak moun ki pale li.

[translation: Today is Int'l Creole Language and Culture Day. This means that everyone worldwide who speaks Creole is celebrating this beautiful language and its speakers.]

I was very happy to watch a debate on Guyane's television around this celebration. I was surprised to see how well I understood what the 7 participants were saying, except, of course for the use of "ka" with verbs which always confuses present and future tenses in my head, but that's another debate altogether...

I was also rather discouraged. It seemed their problems with Creole are almost the same : French is considered a 1st-class language, Creole isn't. People think using more Creole in daily life will cut us off from the rest of the world. Creole is still not considered a "real" language by a lot of people.

One guest, the owner of the local television station we were watching, said that 10 years ago, the station was even stoned because he aired the news in Creole. Things have progressed yet he still has to fight with his guests to get them to interview in Creole.

This situation fits in well with my previous post. Most candidates are using Creole and Rasin music to get the vote. Yet walk into any public office and everyone wrestles with French, all the forms are in French. In fact, I sometimes feel things in Creole are ID and the Constitution.

I hate that this language that all Haitians communicate with is so politically charged. You're "smart" when you speak French, and "dumb" when you speak Creole. And yet, if you actually analyze what most people say in French, was comes out and what they mean are two different things. So it's a means of control and, well, oppression. If you say something only in French, you're guaranteed to filter out almost 95% of the population. This is a good way of making sure people only understand what you want them to.

Our former Prezidan, a great actor in his own right, took to making all his speeches in Creole. Smart man to communicate directly with "the masses". Yet, when he was away, I wonder what stories he told in French and in English...

There are several issues that need to be addressed by the candidates. Foremost is Education. School is mostly taught in French with French books. Is it any surprise that we get such poor results in the official exams? An expert said it best on TV the other day : Children here don't go to school to learn, they got to practise memorization skills.

I was taught Creole in school, in 3rd or 4th grade, for all of 6 months. Never again afterwards. In fact, I was forbidden to speak it even during recess. I didn't even have an opinion on Creole in schools until a few years ago I saw a documentary on Hawai'i.

There is a school on the main island there that experimented in teaching class entirely in the Hawai'ian language (I don't know the correct term). The only class they had in English was literally English. Those students ended up with the highest scores of SAT for that state.

Imagine what would happen if every single law, news article, movie, book or textbook was available in Creole. Every single Haitian would not only have equal access to knowledge, he would also be able to question what's going on around him.

The question now becomes : who really wants that ?

2 comments: said...

j'apprecie enormement tes ecrits, Arielle,ils me font non seulement rire parfois ,mais aussi realiser et reflechir a certaines questions que je n'ose pas poser a voix haute . donc, keep up the good work
plusieurs voudrait faire comme toi et ecrire maii ils n'ont pas ton savoir faire

La Karibane said...

Merci pour tous ces compliments, Dinah, ils me font tourner la tête, comme dit la chanson...