Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm getting cranky...

The BBC Caribbean website has a forum with comments on the value of creole languages. The questions are:
  • Do you think dialects should be officially recognized?
  • Do you think of them as a language?
  • Should people be encouraged to speak their own dialects?
I wrote a response but it seems as though they are not going to post it. So, here it is:
Regardless of public "opinion," linguists know that creole languages are "real languages"- completely normal examples of this defining human characteristic.

Over 20 years ago, I conducted a literacy project with children on Carriacou, Grenada, which showed that learning to read their English Creole helped them learn to read Standard English. Unfortunately, this research and others like it does not seem to reach the consciousness of education ministers and others who, through public education campaigns, could end the centuries of what amounts to educational malpractice- I could even say child abuse- that has required creole-speaking children throughout the West Indies to struggle with learning a new language system while at the same time adjusting to the many other stresses of schooling.

The very fact that a poll could be asking whether readers think of creoles as languages is a sad and sorry indictment of educational systems that do not really teach people about what it means to be human, and what part language plays in being human. Of course creoles should be official languages, of course people should be encouraged to use them, of course ministries of education should develop linguistically informed policies on their uses in schools, including uses for first literacy.

Anything less should be considered crimes against humanity.
If they ever do post it, I'll let you know.

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