Caribbean Language and Liberation

Accepting Creole in the Region a Slow Process

By Cara L. Jean-Baptiste

The Caribbean has made very little progress in accepting the creole languages.

During the 10th George Lamming Distinguished Lecture that took place on Tuesday night, Rosanne Adderley highlighted that there had been little progress in accepting the creole languages of the region and added that many still did not trust or embrace the language even though a wide range of other regional creative forms are embraced.

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Professor Richard Drayton, Professor of Imperial and Global History at Kings College in London agreed but highlighted that he would have seen very few people use Anglo-Caribbean creoles as a vehicle for extremely complicated kinds of thinking.

He pointed out that writers like Kamau Braithwaite had the presence of Anglo Creole in his speech, prose and poetry, but there was no major work which he produced that was in Creole form.

Additionally, he believed that while persons of the Caribbean, Jamaicans especially, had their own moments of code switching, younger essayists did not appear to use patois as a philosophical language.

“And I think it has to do with first of all the long history of the ways in which education happens in the forms of standard English, so that we become and we think in our certain kinds of thoughts using these vocabularies, exactly as I’m doing now, which are  ‘standard’,” he said.

“But it’s true to say possibly too that we are in a slow process of accumulating the resources to do something more complicated with with the forms of Creole speech.”

He noted that the presumption usually was that if you used patois or creole in your works, then it the work would be untranslatable to those who you need to do business with.

It is against this backdrop that the Professor believed that more needed to be done to accept the creole language in the region so that more writers could use the language in their literary works.

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