(No. 12)


Da Jesus Book

Da Jesus Book, a translation of the New Testament into Hawai'i Creole English (locally known as "Pidgin") was published in 2000 by Wycliffe Bible Translators. For more information, the following website: You can order it from Logos Bookshop in Hawai'i: phone 1-(808) 596-8890.

The Alawa-Kriol-English dictionaries were launched on 31st October 2001 in Katherine, NT (Australia) at the Diwurruwurru-Jaru Aboriginal Corporation, the local Aboriginal language centre. [Kriol is the English-based creole of northern Australia and Alawa is an indigenous language spoken in the Northern Territory.]

Margaret Sharpe began initial field work for this dictionary with an analysis of the phonology and grammar of Alawa and a collection of texts in 1966, and continued with a grant from the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies in 1974-5, focussing more on vocabulary.
A draft has been available for some years, and in early 1999 the "final" draft was workshopped with the Alawa people by Margaret Sharpe and Susan Poetsch, a graduate student of Sydney University with expertise in ESL. They found that with the size the dictionary had grown to, it was too difficult for a number of the people who had limited literacy skills to handle, so "shorter" and "longer" versions were prepared, and also a plant book.

The plant book (Ruwu Alawirryunu) and the shorter dictionary both have larger print and spacing between entries, and appropriate illustrations. The illustrated section of the shorter dictionary can be easily read by an older illiterate man who knows his fauna. The Plant Book lists the traditional uses of various plants, for tools, food and medicine, etc.

The dictionaries and plant book have three listings, first by Alawa, next by Kriol and lastly by English. The longer dictionary also has examples of usage of the words, sometimes glossed in English, and sometimes in Kriol, and a domain section. (In the shorter, the domain section is pictorial and in the illustration section.)

The books can be ordered from this email address or from Caitlin Press, P.O. Box 481, Prospect, SA 5082, ph./fax 61 8 8344 5959.

For those of you who read French, a pre-print article by Professor Yves Dejean, from Haiti, is available on the internet. The English title is "Creole, Education and (Ir)Rationality". It discusses the (non)role of Creole in Haitian schools and addresses a number of related issues concerning theory and practice in Creole studies. (The article is to be published in French (after copy-editing) in the next issue of Chemins Critiques. It can be found at this address: (You'll need the The Acrobat Reader program to read it. This program is available for free at the following address:

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Due Respect: Papers on English and English-related Creoles in the Caribbean in Honour of Professor Robert Le Page

A new book has several chapters on creoles and education in the Caribbean: Due Respect: Papers on English and English-related Creoles in the Caribbean in Honour of Professor Robert Le Page edited by Pauline Christie (University of the West Indies Press, Kingston, 2001). These are found in Section 1: Creole and English: In the Society and in the School.

In "The status of creole in the Caribbean" (pp.24-29), Lawrence D. Carrington discusses the education sector. He writes (p.26): "The churches have always understood what other educators have failed to grasp, namely that people learn best in their own languages, and so have been the major users of Creole vernaculars for religious education." But he notes that Creoles "have generally remained outside the gates of the formal school systems" (p.27), despite debates over the last century about the usefulness of Creoles for educational purposes. However, the author observes (p.27): "Within the formal school systems, the limited use of instruction through Creole languages has always been seen as a bridge to instruction through the official language." Cases where government policy prescribes and supports the use of Creole are rare, and today found only in Haiti, Aruba and Curaçao. But in countries where English is the official language, while there is no formal use of Creoles in education, there is less active resistance to their use than before.

In "Competence, proficiency and language acquisition in Caribbean contexts" (pp.37-60), Hazel Simmons-McDonald reminds readers that many children come to school with a vernacular variety of English as their first dialect (D1) which differs in some respects from the standard variety they need to learn for school purposes (the D2). She notes that when the two varieties are similar "learners (and in some cases teachers) have difficulty in determining the differences in some grammatical structures of the varieties" (p.40). The author also observes that teaching standard English to D1 vernacular speakers should not be interpreted as the eradication of the D1 variety. Rather, the goal should be "multicompetence" in both varieties. But in order to form the necessary mental representation of the D2, learners must be aware of how its structures differ from those of the D1. She observes (p.53): "An approach that presents the D1 and D2 as two related systems that differ in some respects is more likely to bring learners to a perception of the difference than one which says 'the system that you use is bad and incorrect and you should learn to replace it with this other one'."

In "Language education revisited in the Commonwealth Caribbean" (pp.61-78), one of the pioneers of research on creoles and education, Dennis R. Craig, compares the educational policies from the 1970s and 80s with more recent ones. He notes that the newly available descriptions of creoles and related vernaculars in the 1970s had created the possibility for more effective teaching of the standard to speakers of these varieties. It was realised that normal foreign language or second language teaching methodologies were not effective in such situations because for speakers of creoles and related vernaculars, the related standard language is not the mother tongue, but not a foreign or second language either. Controversies about this dilemma soon led to a pessimism about the possibility of successful standard language teaching to such students. Nevertheless, some positive developments occurred during this period, including the production of well-conceived special English-as-a-second-dialect (ESD) materials for the teaching of English to creole and nonstandard speakers. However, these developments have been more recently weakened by several factors. One of these is the continuing dominance of an "English-as-the-mother-tongue" tradition. In other words, students are taught as if standard English is their mother tongue. Another factor is shifting and ambivalent educational policies, which have in general not adopted innovative measures shown to be helpful, such as using creole to teach literacy or adopting ESD methodologies. Rather communicative language teaching approaches have been adopted, which have been counter-productive in the Caribbean. The result has been, unfortunately, declining pass rates in English in Caribbean Examinations Council exams. [See the following article by Dennis R. Craig.]

Beverley Bryan illustrates the effectiveness of accepting the students' own language in the classroom in "Defining the role of linguistic markers in manufacturing classroom consent" (pp.79-96). She gives examples of actual classroom discourse from Jamaica, and shows how bilingual teachers use the language they have in common with the students (Creole) both to engage them in the lesson and to move them towards the target standard variety. She notes (p.89), "The facility in moving between two languages is an important part of this mutual engagement, this initiation into the culture of the school."

Two other chapters deal with other interesting language and educational issues. Verma Pollard discusses hypercorrection in "'A singular subject takes a singular verb' and hypercorrection in Jamaican speech and writing (pp.97-107). Monica Taylor argues for the need to recognise Caribbean English as a legitimate variety in "English in the English-speaking Caribbean: Questions in the academy" (pp.108-121).

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