chapters in Multilingualism in the British Isles 2. Africa,
the Middle East and Asia edited by Safder Alladina and Viv
Edwards (Longman, London, 1991) are relevant to PACE. In “The
Afro-English creole speech community” (pp.42-56), Morgan Dalphinis
reviews the difficult linguistic situation of Creole speakers from
English-lexified Creole languages who have settled in Great Britain.
the 1950s when West Indians came to settle in Britain in larger
numbers than ever before, a cycle of underachievement by Creole-speaking
students has been perpetuated in the British school system. Citing
writers such as Eysenck (1971) who suggest that African and Afro-Caribbean
people are of a “genetically inferior” race (p. 47),
Dalphinis attributes “institutionalised racism” (p.47)
as a major contributor to Caribbean underachievement in British
schools. Thus, it is stated that while language awareness programs
might be useful to some extent in improving academic performance,
a more significant obstacle which must be overcome is the negative
attitudes towards Creole-speaking students.
Caribbean parents, who have come to equate English language with
material success, often feel that teaching Creole in the classroom
is just another attempt to “keep down” those who are
not in power.
some educators attribute academic failure at least partly to the
schools’ lack of recognition of Creole language, and they
want to validate the unique language skills of Caribbean students.
Through exposure to Creole literature and language, these students
would be provided with a source of linguistic heritage and pride.
the same volume, “The Kwéyòl speech community”
by Hubisi Nwenmely (pp57-68) provides a general overview of the
Kwéyòl-speaking community in Britain (particularly
immigrants from Dominica and St. Lucia). It provides a brief history
and evolution of modern Kwéyòl in the Caribbean, its
transplantation to Britain, and its current status and patterns
of use in Britain. There is also a discussion of the various efforts
towards promoting Kwéyòl culture and writings in both
Britain and the Caribbean.
Nwenmely also teams up with Carol Morris in their article on “The
Kwéyòl Language and Literacy Project” in Language
and Education 7/4, 1993 (pp.259-70). Despite some overlap from
Newnmely’s 1991 publication (above), this article deals more
specifically with the development of the “Patwa Project”
(Kwéyòl Project) for Dominicans and St. Lucians living
in Britain. The project launched its first phase of Patwa classes
in May 1984, and since then has produced a number of teaching and
reading materials. Aims of the project have been to “to develop
literacy skills amongst St. Lucian and Dominican people and to encourage
the development of students to become tutors on the Project”
participants in London’s Kwéyòl Project have
established ties with people in St. Lucia who are also keen to write
Kwéyòl. The result is a mutually enjoyable and profitable
teaching/learning experience between the two groups.
Winer, author of “Teaching Speakers of Caribbean English Creoles
in North American Classrooms” (in Language Variation in
North American English Research and Teaching, edited by A.
Wayne Glowka and Donald M. Lance (The Modern Language Association
of America, New York, 1993, pp.191-198), provides an overview of
Caribbean English Creoles and discusses the situation where English
Creole speakers are transplanted into North American schools. As
stated in the overview on page 191, this article “provides
some basic information about Caribbean English Creole and about
teaching Caribbean-background students, including suggestions for
teacher preparation, classroom teaching procedures, and useful reference
Winer believes that a little knowledge of students’ social,
cultural, and political background can go far in facilitating the
transition of Creole-speaking students into North American classrooms.
She suggests that teachers gain a knowledge of Caribbean geography
and history, and be aware of the current family and social structure,
educational system and cultural traditions, and how these differ
from North American norms.
Winer does not propose that teachers learn the Creole of their students,
she does believe that they have a duty to obtain a basic knowledge
of Creoles, so that they may be more aware of potential problems
arising from linguistic misunderstanding.
International Journal of the Sociology of Language 102
(1993) focusses on “Creole Movements in the Francophone Orbit”,
and contains several articles of interest.
“So near, yet so far: Bannzil’s pan-Creole idealism”
(pp.27-38), Vinesh Y. Hookoomsing tells the story of the how the
Bannzil Kréyòl movement originated, espoused
ambitious ideals, and then experienced a swift decline in momentum
movement arose from the French-inspired Comité International
des Etudes Créoles (CIEC). Dissatisfied members of this organization
began to see a need not only for scientific study of Creole languages,
but also for a society which celebrated Creole speakers of both
the Caribbean and Indian Ocean islands as a distinct community.
ideals of the Bannzil Kréyòl movement thus
focussed on the idea that Creole speakers, despite their cultural
and linguistic differences from island to island and from ocean
to ocean, are part of a larger family of Creole speakers that share
a common linguistic, cultural, and social background.
movement also had the aims of promoting Creole languages as a vehicle
for scientific and literary communication, and to be recognized
at the university, national, and international levels.
happened to the Bannzil Kréyòl movement,
the author wonders. With regards to a pan-Creole culture, Hookoomsing
believes that cultural differences and distance prevailed over desired
unity. For example, in Mauritius, Creole speakers and those who
consider themselves to be members of the Creole community do not
necessarily constitute the same group. A large portion of the Mauritian
community who are of Indian origin continue to identify with the
culture of the ancestral subcontinent, yet these people also have
acquired the Creole of their adopted land. In Mauritius, the term
“Creole” there-fore better serves to identify the ethnic
(African-European) sub-group of Mauritians, rather than the larger
group of the Creole-speaking community, as a whole.
respect to developing Creole as a scientific and literary instrument:
there was a seminar for this purpose held in Réunion in 1984,
a gathering which in itself was significant. However, little serious
discussion and no follow-up projects resulted.
Hookoomsing considers most paradoxical is that by 1987, Bannzil
Kréyòl, without any legal status of its own,
became registered as a French association, thus losing
its Creole identity.
author refers to the Bannzil Kréyòl movement
as an attempt to reverse the “...unpalatable visions depicting
Creole islands adrift like shipwrecks” (p 36). Despite its
early demise, however, s/he feels that perhaps the experience has
taught us to take a more localized and pragmatic, rather than globalized
and idealistic, stance toward Creole languages.
Dejean, who was born and raised in Haiti and returned there after
sixteen years in exile, has written a comprehensive and informative
article entitled “An overview of the language situation in
launches into his discussion by refuting the existence of a diglossic
situation in Haiti. Addressing some of the requirements for diglossia
according to the theories of both Ferguson and Fishman, Dejean argues
his points, noting that 99% of the population is monolingual in
Creole, and the one to two percent who do speak both Creole and
French do not reserve either code for specific situations, and furthermore,
they code-switch constantly between the two languages. Dejean also
strongly disagrees with Fleischmann’s account of Haitian “linguistic
anguish” (p.76) whereby Creole speakers allegedly long to
be competent in French, stating that the average citizen carries
on day-to-day life in “...a peaceful linguistic existence
undisturbed by...imaginary quarrels and conflicts...” (p.77).
author then continues on with a description of the issue of language
planning in Haiti. He scorns the 1980 educational reform which has
as its goal for all Haitian children to be fluent speakers, readers,
and writers of both French and Creole. Citing Haiti’s low
economic status and high illiteracy rate, as well as the fact that
fluent French speakers for students to “practice” with
are few and far between, Dejean dismisses this reform as unrealistic.
new Creole adult literacy campaign was initiated by the government
in the late 80s, but was unsuccessful according to Dejean, absorbing
huge amounts of “talk, bluff, and money” (p.79).
seems to acknowledge that the traditional educational system, which
has subjected Haitians to 200 years of non-Creole usage, has taken
its toll – Creole is still considered by some to be an inferior
and inadequate language to learn in schools. However, it is encouraging
to note that (p.79) “...the most varied and distant regions
of the country gladly welcomed the announcement of literacy programs
all based solely on the use of Creole.”
article on the Caribbean focusses upon the language situation in
Dominica, an island which was originally colonized by the French
but was handed over to British rule in 1805. Despite almost 200
years of British influence and an Anglophonic tradition on the island,
French-lexified Patwa is slow to die in Dominica. Stephanie Stuart
examines the status of Patwa in her article, “Dominican Patwa
– mother tongue or cultural relic?” (pp.57-72).
identifies many obstacles which hinder the use of spoken and written
Patwa in Dominica. For example, the fact that Patwa is a French-lexified
creole within an officially English-speaking environment causes
prob-lems in the coinage of new words, where lexical borrowing from
English does not come so easily as it would come from French.
factors which confine Patwa development is official as well as de
facto English usage in government and the legal system. Even in
the schools, English is considered to be the only “appropriate”
language of communication, to the dis-advantage of at least 30%
of students whose home language is Patwa. To the date when this
article was written, there was still no standardized orthography
Dominica became independent from Britain in 1978, beliefs dating
back to colonial rule linger in Dominican society. For example,
it was considered “inappropriate” in times of British
rule to use Patwa in “polite discourse”. Such discourse
encompassed virtually all aspects of life except for communication
with servants or estate workers.
young people in the country speak Patwa fluently but regard this
as a “disability”. Paradoxically, their counterparts
in urban areas are much less capable in Patwa, but mix it with their
English and “...have learned or are learning to value it”
creation of the Komité pou Etid Kwéyòl (KEK)
in the 1980s has helped the Creole cause in Dominica. It acts as
a point of contact for creolists in other countries, and has worked
to establish an oral history as well as written documentation of
Patwa. Additionally, the Komité has initiated adult literacy
courses in the language. The KEK has to a limited extent influenced
the educational system. Many teachers are beginning to understand
the creative resources to be found in the mother tongue of their
students. However, the educational system does not provide for this.
Also, since Patwa as yet does not have a standard orthography, teachers
are reluctant to instruct in an area where there is no adjudicated
“right” and “wrong” spelling form.
also writes about the status of Patwa in other aspects of society,
where it generally suffers from a low status in relation to English.
An exception to this is in music, where Patwa flourishes, and in
dance, which is supported by the Cultural Division of the government.
in the words of Stuart, the government now pays “lip service”
to Patwa, it benefits from no formal language planning. The author
feels that for this language to carry on amidst an English-speaking
environment, steps will need to be taken to “officialize”
Patwa. This would mean including it in the school syllabus, and
promoting it as a working language that should not be admired as
a mere cultural relic, but as a language to be used in
both formal and informal settings.
“Language policy in the Seychelles and its consequences”
(pp.85-99), Annegret Bollée takes a cautiously positive stance
towards the status of Seychellois Creole. After describing its origin
and history derived from Mauritian and Réunion creole-speaking
immigrants, Bollée explains how language policy in the Seychelles
has traditionally been very supportive of Seychellois Creole. Since
the 1960s and 70s, it has been used in public functions, on radio
news broadcasts, and in government dealings with the public. In
1979, only three years after independence from Britain, Seychellois
Creole was designated as an official language along with English
and French, and in 1982 it became the medium of instruction in primary
schools. In later school years, Creole is the language of instruction
in conjunction with French and English.
notes that despite the fact that Seychellois Creole is the language
of instruc-tion in Seychelles’ schools and that it is used
with great success on radio and TV, the print media continues to
use predominantly English and French. Creole literature can still
be found only to a limited extent in bookshops. This is attributed
to the limit of Creole’s vocabulary, and the fact that it
is easier to leave English and French media reports in their original
language than to translate them into Creole. Bollée expresses
the hope that in the coming years, when current students will have
graduated with an academic background in Creole, the tide will turn
towards increased usage of written Creole in the media and in literature.
anticipation of this, the Komite Kreol, later taken over by the
Lenstiti Kreol (Creole Institute) has been established with the
aim of doing research on Creole (dictionaries, grammars), creating
literature, and promoting Creole, generally. Bollée lists
the stated aims of the Institute, and provides examples of its work,
such as the coining of new Creole words and some rulings in Creole
anticipates a bright future for Creole, not only in the spoken domain
where it is already strong, but also in its developing written domain.
She notes, however, the necessity of retaining English and French
as official languages in the Seychelles, where the local language
could not reasonably be expected to infiltrate international borders.
Alain Armand focuses on the creole of neighbouring Réunion
in “A Kréol/French dictionary: to what purpose? A lexicographic
undertaking on Réunion” (pp.101-16). Armand provides
an overview of social and theoretical issues involved in creating
the Dictionnaire kréol réunioné/français:
How wide a boundary to create between Creole and its lexifier language,
French? How to define Creole words with no direct French equivalent?
How to account for a spelling and grammar in a language that has
not been standardized?
makes mention of the impact that a bilingual dictionary might have
on the school system, suggesting that it could be used as a tool
in the mastery of Creole, which would in turn aid in the learning
of other codes such as French.
promotes his dictionary as a flexible orthographic proposal which
can change to meet the needs of Creole speakers in the years to
come. He notes (p.109), however, that “...it is not a question
of transcribing from the spoken language, which is a place par excellence
of variation, but to give birth to a written language, which stabilizes
article of interest is “The creole movement in Guadeloupe”
by Ellen M. Schnepel (pp.117-34). To quote the author (p.118):
article analyzes the relationship between politics and language
in the current movement to promote, develop and popularize the
Creole language on the island of Guadaloupe in the French Antilles.
In tracing the evolution of the “Creole Movement”,
we shall observe how the Creole question both reflects and structures
the island’s changing sociopolitical environment. In particular,
how each political party’s posture on the status and role
of Creole corresponds to its own position regarding Guadaloupe’s
political status in relation to the French nation.
regard to Creole and education, Schnepel notes (p.126): “The
institution where the conflict between French and Creole cultures
played out most dramatically was the local school system.”
She describes how, in 1981, a secondary school started an experimental
program to teach Creole in several classes in addition to the French
class. The purpose was to correct interference errors in French
due to Creole, and also “to liberate the students by allowing
them to communicate more freely through speaking Creole in the classroom”
(p.127). For the political faction that supported this experiment,
it was a “preemptive measure to forestall a French government
effort to teach Creole along its own ideological lines” (p.127).
a long history of neglect of languages other than French, the Socialist
government passed a law in 1982 acknowledging minority languages
and spelling out provisions for their being taught in the school
system. However, creole languages were not included. But in 1983,
a surprise announcement was made that Creole languages and cultures
were considered regional languages and would be gradually introduced
as an experiment into the school systems of the overseas territories.
led to a great deal of controversy. Many people were “hostile
to the idea of elevating their vernacular to the status of a regional
language and teaching Creole in school where it had been previously
banished” (p.127). Others supported Creole, but thought it
should be considered the national language of Guadaloupe, not a
regional language of France. Others feared that introduction of
Creole into the schools would lead to greater interference from
French or decreolization. People argued about which variety was
the “real Creole” or “pure Creole”. Teachers
debated about the level at which Creole should be introduced into
the schools (if at all)–preschool, primary or secondary–and
about whether it should be merely the medium of instruction for
some years or an object of study along with French.
was the result of all this political conflict and in-fighting on
Creole in education? Schnepel gives the following answer (p.130):
“Through the decline in student interest, parental campaigns
against the classes, teacher apathy, and the absence of any clear
administrative support, the school program has been marginalized.”
“Integrating Creole into Caribbean classrooms” by Peter
A. Roberts (Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
15/1, 1994, pp.47-62) is the published version of a paper given
at the conference of the Society of Pidgin and Creole Linguistics
in Amsterdam. This paper is summarized in PACE Newsletter