Language Discrimination in Haiti: French Vs Haitian Creole

French and Creole are the two official languages of Haiti and still, French is given more importance than Creole. This discrimination, as seen by many intellectuals worldwide, is primarily because of the fact that Creole is a mix of several West African languages and French. Creole, which is today the lingua franca, actually started when African slaves arrived at Saint Domingue and tried to speak French by whatever they picked up through listening. The reason why they tried to speak French was that the African slaves from different parts of West Africa had different languages and they failed to communicate with each other. Hence, they picked up French.

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Even though Creole was influenced by French, the language has different grammar and sentence structure. This led to the birth of Creole as a separate language. Despite being the sole literary language since Haiti's independence, Creole received its status as the official language of Haiti in 1961 with orthography standardization taking place in 1979.

Michel DeGraff, linguistics professor of MIT, says that there is no point why Creole should not be considered as a legitimate language. He points out that French itself is derived from Latin and evolved in a process which is almost similar to Creole. So, if French is a legitimate language, so is Creole. Given the fact that 90% of Haitians speak Creole, it should get equal recognition as French. Through efforts of many intellectuals, Creole is gradually gaining popularity. Many literary works are now created in Creole. Television and radio programs as well as newspapers are also supporting the same through production in Creole language.

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Read more: Creole, Culture, Discrimination, French, Language, Michel DeGraff, Culture

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