Date of this Version
Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, Vol. I, pp 102-112.
Nowadays, creoles are often employed when a group wants to reach the minority audience with its message. Thanks to the presence of creoles on every continent, this strategy has the potential to be highly successful. Creole writings can be divided into two main subcategories: ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical. Writings related to Christianity can be found wherever English-based creoles are widely used and accepted. Creolized translations of missionary prayers have been dated back to the eighteenth century (Todd 71). Negerhollands, a Dutch-based creole of the Virgin Islands, even boasts a translation of the Bible. Translations of creoles have also been used in political campaigns to appeal to a specific demographic. The unmatched success of one Jamaican politician can be attributed to his conscious efforts to learn the creole speech and accompanying social norms of his “slum constituency.” Along the same lines, the Peace Corps is currently producing language learning materials for the creoles of Jamaica, Sierra Leone, and Haitian French in an effort to effect change for a wider population of people (DeCamp 35, 39). The use of creoles in education has had mixed results. While the oral use of creoles has been accepted, the use of printed creole texts in the classroom has come under fire. Educational purists argue that teaching these “simplified…corrupt” languages is detrimental to the integrity of the educational system (Todd 83). Contrarily, a conference of linguists and educators held in Jamaica in 1964 found that the inability of West Indian school children to adequately express themselves in writing was due in part to the barrier between the creole they spoke and the standard language used in the academic setting (DeCamp 41).
Despite the many advances in creole and pidgin linguistics, there is still a frequent prejudice against recognizing them as “proper linguistic systems” (Muysken and Smith, 6). Creole and pidgin speakers are “inseparably associated with poverty, ignorance, and lack of moral character” due to the negative public perception surrounding these languages. Commonly referred to as a “barbarous corruption” of an established language, creoles have faced much discrimination (DeCamp 35). Only recently have creoles and pidgins been added to the lists of the world’s languages. Continued disagreement between Creolists and traditional linguists has served as the catalyst in the fight to add pidgins and creoles to these lists and has resulted in nearly constant additions. Currently, six countries have named a creole as their official language with many others expected to do the same. These countries and their officially recognized creoles are: Vanuata with Bislama, Haiti with Haitian Creole, Papua New Guinea with Tok Pisin, Sao Tome Island with Saotomense, Congo with Kituba, and the Central African Republic with Sango (Thompson 8). While this represents a major milestone for Creolists, there is still much work to be done if these methods of communicating are going to overcome their negative connotation and be acknowledged as equals with standard languages. As of now, creoles and pidgins remain a controversial subject shrouded in mystery and uncertainty.