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Walter F. Edwards Professor, English Department & Linguistic Program Walter.edwards@wayne PowerPoint Presentation
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Walter F. Edwards Professor, English Department & Linguistic Program Walter.edwards@wayne

Walter F. Edwards Professor, English Department & Linguistic Program Walter.edwards@wayne

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Walter F. Edwards Professor, English Department & Linguistic Program Walter.edwards@wayne

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  1. Charter on Language Policy and Language Rights in the Creole-Speaking Caribbean:Sociolinguistic implications 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.

  2. The Problem • 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.

  3. The Solution • 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.

  4. The Solution • 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.

  5. Origins • 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.

  6. origins continued… • 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 15th and16th 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)

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

  8. Sociolinguistic characteristics of Caribbean Creole Societies • 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.

  9. Sociolinguistic characteristics of Caribbean Creole Societies • 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.

  10. Sociolinguistic characteristics of Caribbean Creole Societies • -- Complex communicative competences of members of • these speech communities including multilingual, multidialectal competences, and rich code switching norms involving marked and unmarked choices. 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.

  11. Some Grammatical characteristics of Caribbean Creoles 1. SVO word order in declarative and interrogative sentences: -- Slvii bn a maakt “ Silvi went to the market” Slvi bn a markt? “Did Silve go to the market?” 2. Agentless, semantically motivated passives -- Di fuud kk yt? “Has the food been cooked yet? --- Di kou slaata “ The cow has been slaughtered”

  12. Some Grammatical characteristics of Caribbean Creoles 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 copulas 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

  13. Some Grammatical characteristics of Caribbean Creoles 5 . Separate copula verbs for equative and locative meanings -- 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) markers -- 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”

  14. Some Linguistic characteristics of Caribbean Creoles • 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m to m taak! -- Plai-Plai the sound of fingers colliding together in a gesture indicating trouble e.g Plai-plai m gn tl pon y “ I’m going to rat on you ( you’re in trouble)

  15. The Caribbean Accent: Anglophone 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):

  16. The Caribbean Accent: Anglophone • 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)

  17. Charter on Language Policy and Language Rights in the Creole-Speaking Caribbean • Provides regional process for resolving the language problems • Deals with issues regarding rights, policies and implementation measures of 4 main areas: • Public Administration, Official Bodies and Socioeconomic Sphere • Education in schools • Education out of schools • Culture Kingston, Jamaica January 14, 2011

  18. Concepts and General Principles • 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 community • 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

  19. Public Administration, Official Bodies and Socioeconomic Sphere • 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 understands • Everyone has the right to use any territorial language with full legal validity in economic transactions of all types.

  20. Education in Schools • 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 resides • 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

  21. Education out of School • All members of the language community have the right to a quality education and literacy in their first language outside the formal school system • 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.

  22. Culture • 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.

  23. Guidelines for Policy Implementations • 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.

  24. 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.

  25. Language Planning: Ideologies 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 -Curricula -Classroom Practices

  26. Language Planning: Ideologies • -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.;

  27. Language Planning: Ideologies • 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)

  28. Language Planning: Ideologies • “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

  29. Language Planning: Ideologies in the American Classroom • 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)

  30. Language Planning: Classroom Ideologies • 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.

  31. Language Planning: Ideologies • 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.

  32. Language Planning: Ideologies • 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 acceptable. • In contrast Jamaican students considered their dialect “Bad English” .

  33. Conclusion: The way forward • 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.

  34. THANKS! • 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!!