Walter F. Edwards Professor, English Department & Linguistic ...

Walter F. Edwards Professor, English Department & Linguistic ...

Walter F. Edwards Professor, English Department & Linguistic ...


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Walter F. Edwards

Professor, English Department &

Linguistic Program


Humanities Center’s Brown Bag Colloquium

October 26, 2011

A talk to mark the 30th anniversary of International Creole Day , October 28.

� Many national and international bodies have affirmed

the rights of speakers of minority languages to use,

cherish and be educated in their native languages.

� However, the existence of Charters and Declarations have had

limited success in securing the language rights of the vast

majority of native speakers of minority languages and

dialects, including the speakers of Caribbean creoles.

� Consequently, speakers of Caribbean creoles and indigenous

languages live in societies where their native language are

not accorded the level of respect, legitimacy and promotion

they deserve.

� Rather than merely writing and promulgating a new language

rights charter, the International Center for Caribbean Language

Research (ICCLR), led by Professor Hubert Devonish, convened a

conference in January 2011 to do the following:

� 1. Approve a document that includes a charter that codifies the

language rights of Creole‐speaking Caribbean peoples

� 2. In one meeting, assemble Caribbean heads of state,

government Education ministers, Vice Chancellors (presidents )

of Caribbean universities, and prominent linguists from around

the world whose research focus on Creole languages. The

participants included the governor General of Belize, the

Governor General of St. Lucia, The Vice presidents of the

University of Guyana and UWI and many top officials in the

Education ministries of Caribbean governments.

� 3. To puts these officials and scholars together in one place to be

official signatories to a document that also pledged their

commitment to introduce and support language rights legislation, in

their parliaments and fund cultural institutions that protect Creole

languages; continue and accelerate research that describe Creole

languages and participate in regional and local research teams that

describe and publicize the linguistic properties of these languages.

‐The main part of this paper will discuss this document that was

signed on January 14, 2011 in Jamaica. But first, some background

on these languages. I’ll address my remarks only to the Creole

languages, but the charter also covers indigenous, minority

languages. And I’ll use Guyanese Creole to illustrate Creole features

since that’s the variety with which I’m most familiar.

� As you’ll see from the next two slides, Creole languages are spread throughout the

world, principally in the equatorial belt in proximity to oceans. Sixteen million speakers

of Creole live around the globe, from the Americas to The Seychelles Islands,

situated in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar. Haiti alone accounts for half of

Creole speakers with a population of 8 million. They are generally found in places

where European traders interacted with native inhabitants initially for trade. In the case

of the Caribbean, North American and South American Creoles, these varieties resulted

from the slave trade in the 16th , 17th and 18th centuries when Africans were brought to

the these areas to work .

� Contact linguistics is the field that studies these languages. All studies show that these

languages incorporate linguistic features from all the participating languages in creative

ways but that some general features seem pervasive.

� A great deal of the literature on these languages center on theories of genesis. These

include evolution from a widespread lingua franca used in the Mediterranean and

coastal Africa in the 15 th and16 th centuries, evolution from pidgin languages

(linguistically sparse, often ephemeral languages developed for limited purposes, mainly

trade);other monogenetic theories; polygenetic theories; and universalist theories

� This talk cannot explore any of these theories or go into serious detail about the

linguistic structure of these languages since our main focus will be on the Charter on

Language Policy and Rights. The linguistic literature on Pidgin and Creole Languages is

enormous so there is much to read for those interested in the subject. (See the selected

bibliography in your handout)

Caribbean Countries Official Languages Creole & Indigenous Languages

Anguilla English Anguillian Creole

Antigua and Barbuda English Antiguan Creole

Aruba Dutch, English, Spanish Papiamento

Bahamas English Bahamian Creole English

Barbados English Bajan

Belize English, Spanish Belizean Kriol, Garifuna, Kekchi, Maya Mopan, Maya Yucatán, Plautdietsch

Bermuda English

British Virgin Islands English, Spanish Virgin Island Creole English

Cayman Islands English, Spanish Haitian Creole

Cuba Spanish Catalan-Valencian-Balear, Corsican, Lucumi

Curacao Dutch Papiamentu

Dominica English Kokoy Creole, Kweyol (Dominican Creole French)

Dominican Republican English, Spanish Haitian Creole French (Kreyol), Catalan-Valencian-Balear

French Guiana French Guianese Creole French, Lokono, Carib, Saramaccan

Grenada English Grenadian Creole English, Grenadian Creole French

Guadeloupe English, French Guadeloupean Creole French, Kreyol

Guyana English Guyanese Creole English (Creolese), Berbice Creole, Carib, Hindustani,

Lokono, Wapishana, Macushi, Patamona,, Warao, Waiwai, Akawaio,

Arekuna, Mapidian, Mawayana

Caribbean Countries Official Languages Creole & Indigenous Languages

Haiti French Haitian Creole French (Kreyol), Langaj

Jamaica English Jamaican Creole English (Patwa)

Martinique French Martiniquan Creole French

Montserrat English Montserrat Creole English

Puerto Rico English, Spanish Ladino

Saba English Netherlands, Antilles Creole English

Suriname Dutch, English Sranan, Suri-Javanese, Hindustani, Lokono, Carib, Arawak, Saramaccan,

Ndyuka Trio-pidgin

St Barts English, French St Barths Creole French, Gustavia Semi- Creole English

St Eustatius English Netherlands Antilles Creole English

St Kitts and Nevis English Nevis Creole English, Saint Kitts Creole English

St Lucia English Saint Lucian Creole French (Kweyol)

St Maarten English Netherlands Antilles Creole English, Papiamento

St Vincent and the Grenadines English Vincentian Creole English

Trinidad and Tobago English, Spanish Trinidadian Creole English, Tobagonian Dialect, Hindustani

Turks and Caicos Islands English Turks and Caicos Creole English

U.S Virgin Islands English, Spanish Virgin Creole English


*From: Caribbean Indigenous and Endangered Languages 2009 sponsored by UNESCO at


� In all cases the official language is different from the Creole or

indigenous languages. In the overwhelming majority of cases,

the Creole language s are identified by their lexifier languages,

i.e. the European language from which most of their

vocabularies are drawn. For example, Jamaican Creole ( Patwa)

is an English lexicon Creole; Haitian Creole ( kreyol) is a French

lexicon Creole. Broadly speaking, then, most creoles exhibit

European based ( superstrate) words and

African/innovative/universal (substrate) grammar. But there is

widespread substrate influence of the lexicons and phonologies

of these languages, and widespread superstrate influence on

their grammars creating very complex linguistic variations.

� Classic and extended diglossic situations and Creole continua

‐‐Diglossic in places like Haiti which s frequently cited as an

example of a diglossic society; and in Aruba, Curacao, Dominica

and Grenada where the official language is not the Creole lexifier

and thus there are clearly define domains where the high (H) and

low (L) languages are respectively expected.

‐‐‐ Creole continua in places like Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados where

the lexifier language and the conservative Creole are linguistic

poles and varieties exhibiting various mixtures of features from

both are also spoken. Linguists have broadly grouped these

continuum varieties as basilectal, mesolectal and acrolectal as

the y respectively incorporate more and more lexifier properties.

1. ai t uld h m

2. ai to:ld h m

3. ai to:l m

4. ai t l m

5. a t l m

6. ai t li

7. a t l i

8. mi t li

9. mi t l am

At left is an example of the

so‐called Creole continuum

( from Allsopp 1958). All

the versions translate as “I

told him”. The bottom

sentence would be the

basilectal version; the top

version is the acrolectal

version. Where the

mesolect starts and ends is

a matter for debate.

� ‐‐ Complex communicative competences of members of

� these speech communities including multilingual, multidialectal

competences, and rich code switching norms involving marked and

unmarked choices.

1. SVO word order in declarative and

interrogative sentences:

-- S lvii b n a maak t “ Silvi went to the


S lvi b n a mark t? “Did Silve go to the


2. Agentless, semantically motivated passives

-- Di fuud k k y t? “Has the food been cooked


--- Di kou slaata “ The cow has been slaughtered”

3. Serial Verb constructions

-- Awi waak g nyuu yaak “ We visited New York”

-- Kofi naki Amba kiri “ “ Kofi struck Amba killing

her” ( Winford 2008, 31)

4. Preposed focus morphemes that resemble equative


Jaan a iit a di teebl. “ John is eating at the table”

-- a Jaan a iit a di teebl

--a iit Jaan a iit a di teebl

--a di teebl a w Jaan a iit

5 . Separate copula verbs for equative and locative


-- Jaan a wan teela “John is a tailor”

--Jaan d in i hous “John is in his house”

--Predicate adjectives in non-past constructions

incorporating copula verbs(so-called zero copula)

-- Jaan h ngrii “John is hungry”

6. Preverbal negative, tense, modal and aspect (TMA)


-- Jaan na d d “John isn’t there”

--Jaan bin iit hoom “John ate at home

Jaan bin a g hoom “John was going home”

-- Jaan g g hoom suun “John will go home soon”

� Reduplication as a productive morphological strategy; a trait that

is vey common in West African languages; e.g

--Bun-bun “burnt scraps at the bottom of a pot”

--Pota-Pota “ soft mud”

--n ng-ning “dizziness”

--Picky-picky “sparse”

Ideophones (Echoic, onomatopoeic words) e.g

-- B ung “ big splash”

-- Badaps “hard fall, slap” e.g. Hi nak mi badaps!

-- - noise expressing surprise, consternation etc. E.g. -

ay k mto m taak!

-- Plai-Plai the sound of fingers colliding together in a gesture

indicating trouble

e.g Plai-plai m gn t l pony “ I’m going to rat on you

( you’re in trouble)

From Allsopp (1996 p. xliv) ”The general quality of CE

English vowels and the sharp reduction in the

number of diphthongal glides and … the phrasal

intonation in which the separation of syllabic pitch

and stress in CE is a major factor of difference from

Standard English (SE):

SE pattern CE pattern

teach.er /2’I/ /I’2/

foun.tain-pen /3’2 I/ /I’I 2/

ex.er.cise /3’2 I/ /I’I 2/

e.du.cat.ed /3’2 2 I/ /I’I 2 2/

� Suteliffe suggests that basic features of the

suprasegmental system indicate a link between

Bajan and Guyanese in the Eastern Caribbean. Both

languages display lexical minimal pairs in common,

mostly disyllables, which are differentiated by pitch

patterns alone: síster (with the pitch pattern /‐ _/)

“female sibling”, sistér (with the pitch pattern /_‐/

“a nun or sister in the religious sense”; wórker (with

pitch pattern /‐_/ “one who works,” workér (with

the pitch pattern /_‐/ “seamstress and

needlewoman” (Sutcliffe 1982:111)

� Provides regional process for resolving the language


� Deals with issues regarding rights, policies and

implementation measures of 4 main areas:

� Public Administration, Official Bodies and Socioeconomic


� Education in schools

� Education out of schools

� Culture

Kingston, Jamaica

January 14, 2011

� Territorial languages‐ Creoles, indigenous languages, the

European languages designated in the territory as its official

languages, and other languages determined by the national

consensus (Article I)

� A Creole language is a separate language from the European

language from which it derives its vocabulary (Article I)

� Inalienable personal rights (Article III):

� The right to be recognized as a member of a language


� The right to the use of one’s own language both in private and

in public

� The right to maintain and develop one’s own culture

� The right to appropriate speech and language therapy in the

event of a citizen suffering from language disorders

� All language communities:

� entitled to the official use of territorial languages within their

territory and have the right to interact with and be served by

public authorities in any territorial language

� have the right for legal and administrative acts, public and private

documents and records in public registers which are drawn up in

the territorial languages to be valid and effective

� Forms and standard administrative documents must be available in

all territorial languages

� Everyone has the right to be tried in a language which he/she


� Everyone has the right to use any territorial language with full legal

validity in economic transactions of all types.

� Education must help:

� to maintain and develop the languages spoken by the language

communities of the territory where it is provided

� Initial instruction in one’s first language is crucial as it enhances

conceptual development, language acquisition and

development, learning in general, and education of the child

� Everyone has the following rights:

� To at least initial instruction and literacy in their first language

� To learn the territorial languages of the territory in which he/she


� To learn any other language

� All languages communities are entitled to have at their disposal

all the human and material resources necessary to ensure that

their language is present to the extent they desire at all levels of

education within their territory

� All members of the language community have the right to a quality

education and literacy in their first language outside the formal school


� All language communities are entitles to have at their disposal the

human and material resources required in order to ensure the desired

degree of presence of their language and the desired degree of

cultural self‐expression in the communications media in their territory

� The languages and cultures of all language communities should

receive non‐discriminatory treatment in the communications media

� Members of all language communities are entitled to learn the history

and evolution of their own language. The study of any language

should not be discouraged.

� All language communities:

� have the right to use, maintain and foster their language in all

forms of cultural expression

� must be able to exercise this right to the full without any

community’s space being subjected to hegemonic occupation by

a foreign culture

� Have the right for the territorial languages of their territory to

occupy a preeminent position in cultural events and services such

as libraries, videothèques, cinemas, theatres, museums, archives,

folklore, cultural industries, and all other manifestations of

cultural life

� Have the right to preserve their linguistic and cultural heritage,

including its material manifestations, such as collections of

documents, works of arts and architecture, historic buildings and

inscriptions in their own language

� The right to use place names in their territorial languages, both

orally and in writing, in the private, public and official spheres.

� In order to effect the rights set forth in Part II,

III(a), III(b) and IV, territories must take the

necessary steps to review and, where necessary,

have the research done which would ascertain

the extent to which they may would need to

remedy these breaches, and the timelines for

effecting these remedies.

� This Charter proposes the creation of a Regional Council of

Languages within the Creole‐speaking Caribbean. Parties to

this Charter should establish this Council which should,

among other things determined by the parties, monitor

implementation by the parties of the rights contained in this

Charter and assess compliance of territories which are

parties to this Charter.

� This Charter also proposes that there be established a

Territorial Council of Languages for each of the Creole‐

speaking territories to which this Charter applies. The

Territorial Council will function as the local arm of the

Regional Council.

To change the public and professional evaluations

and perceptions of Creole languages there must be

programs and projects to change the language

ideologies of key groups; the Creole speakers

themselves, the public administrators, and

educators through

‐Cultural Education and Promotion

‐Teacher Training


‐Classroom Practices

� -Cultural Education and Promotion

� Overt promotion and funding from government including commissioning television

documentaries that discuss the linguistic legitimacy of the Creole and indigenous

languages; advocacy by leading public officials(e.g. the PM and Governor making serious

public speeches in the Creole); news broadcasts in the Creole ; serious books written in the

Creole; funding the creation of bi- lingual text books; developing orthographies for

Creole and indigenous languages or promoting existing ones.

� -Teacher Training.

� Requirement that teacher training include courses in the linguistic and sociolinguistic

properties of the Creole and indigenous languages; exposing teachers to the cultures of

the Creole and indigenous people whose children come to school. Exposing teachers to the

sociolinguistic literature that show that speakers of Creole and indigenous languages do

better in school if their languages are taken into serious and respectful consideration .

� -Curricula.

� To include the history, art, and other cultural expressions of Creole speaking and

indigenous people

� -Classroom Practices.

� Making Creole speaking children feel comfortable using their languages; learning and

using the Creole languages and conducting lessons in them; using contrastive analysis;

language games and other Applied Linguistics techniques that have been proven to be

effective in bilingual and bi-dialectal classrooms and which preserve the value of

minority languages.

� Many of the above practices are already in place in Haiti, Curacao and St. Lucia.

� These approaches are also necessary to secure the rights of speakers of AAVE and other

minority languages in the USA.;

� Different interpretations of language ideologies that

indicate certain prejudices against or for languages and

their speakers:

� Silverstein‐ “a set of beliefs about language articulated by

users as a rationalization or justification of perceived

language structure and use.” (1979:13)

� Irvine and Gal‐ “the cultural system of ideas about social and

linguistic relations.” (2000:255)

� James Paul Gee‐ “language…always comes fully attached to

“other stuff”: to social relations, cultural models, power and

politics, perspectives on experiences, values and attitudes as

well as things and places in the world.” (2009)

� “there are a number of factors affecting any given

learners’ language attitudes and, consequently, his/her

linguistic development.” (Giles, 2006)

� These factors range from macro‐level influences, which

include external forces (EX: mainstream, national, or

international), down to micro‐level influences which involve

the interplay of the linguistic and extra‐linguistic factors of in‐

the‐moment, interpersonal interaction.

� Meso levels of perceptual cultural influences that can be

studied and understood by any individual willing to

participate or observe.

� Teachers of minority students should be aware of the macro‐

and meso‐ levels of linguistic influence

� Some ideologies of language may have an effect on the

success of the teaching method implemented in a

classroom with AAVE speakers.

� William Labov‐ “experimental approaches to the effects of

speech on teachers’ attitudes show that it is the most

powerful single factor in determining teachers’ predictions of

student performance.” (2001: 231)

� William Labov‐ “main effect of a child speaking AAVE was to

affect teachers’ attitude toward the child, with a resultant

negative expectation that affected teachers’ behavior toward

the child in many ways (2001: 231)

� Ideologically best prepared teachers will respect the

language legitimacy of vernaculars and will not adopt

the view that AAVE is something to be “corrected” or

eradicated from their students’ vernacular. (Edwards 2006,

Green 2002)

� Target outcome: Proficiency in SAE

� SAE will never fully replace AAVE in the speech of African

American students

� Replacing AAVE is not a goal for SAE

� Goal of SAE: provide students with additional ways of

communicating that will be appropriate for the various formal

and semi‐formal contexts in which students may find

themselves, and for most written communications.

� Pedagogical goal: allowing African American students’ the

contexts in which this standard dialect may be used.

� Teachers must have an understanding of various

dialects used by their students.

� Students’ ideological understanding includes their

perception of their speech, lives, and world.

� Recognizing this perception will inevitably effect the speech

patterns of students and how they perceive and receive the dialect

of instruction.

� Bryan (1992)‐ “the ideological background of a student

plays a significant role in the acquisition process and in

the level of proficiency that the student attains in

academic English.”

� Showed the potential impact of different student language

ideologies in a mixed English classroom and the significance

of that for a language instruction.

� EX: The Twi‐speaking Ghanaian students in her class had

through their educational experience in Ghana developed a

sense of language equality between their native tongue and

English. Thus, they thought their native English was


� In contrast Jamaican students considered their dialect “Bad

English” .

� Although the drafters and signatories of the Charter are committed to its success we are all aware

of the mighty challenges ahead. It will be difficult to change the negative attitudes generally held

towards the Creoles even in progressive countries like Jamaica, Haiti and Curacao. And getting

governments to commit scarce resources to language planning initiatives will be a hard sell.

� Since 1/14/11 ( The date of the signing of the charter) a number of territorial councils have been

set up with the ICCLR serving as the regional council.

� The Jamaican government in April of this year passed an amendment to the country’s Bill of

Rights to include freedom from discrimination but did not specifically include freedom from

language discrimination which was what the ICCLR was pushing for. The ICCLR has invited

government and opposition politicians to come to its Creole Day celebration on October28 ( this

Friday) and get a JC translation of Article III of the Charter.

� I know that local councils are being set up in in Barbados, Curacao and Guadeloupe.

� I didn’t get a strong sense that the government of Guyana has bought in yet, but I know that the

Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Lawrence Carrington, a notable Caribbean linguist

himself and who is a signatory to the Charter, will do all he can to promote the charter in Guyana.

� I believe that the success of individual Caribbean countries in implementing the Charter will have

positive effects in other Caribbean countries.

� The battle is joined. I invite your comments and suggestions.

� To you for coming to this talk

� To my student assistant Nikita Pathak for putting this

Power Point presentation together for me

� To my Administrative Assistant Jennifer Leonard for

installing the slides that have audio and video features.

� Bato!!


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