Tue | Jul 17, 2018

Creole advocates sign language charter

Published:Monday | January 17, 2011 | 12:00 AM

A charter on language policy and language rights in the Creole-speaking Caribbean has been signed by pro-Creole advocates and is ready to be presented to the Caribbean governments.

The charter, which seeks to nationalise Caribbean Creoles, was signed on Friday at the International Conference on Language Policy in the Creole-speaking Caribbean held at The Knutsford Court Hotel.

"There will be a regional council set up to advocate for the charter," said Professor Hubert Devonish, a linguist who participated in the forum held in Jamaica last week.

Devonish explained that there will be much campaigning to get the Caribbean governments to support and sign the charter. The charter, he said, will be monitored by territorial councils to research and appeal to social institutions, companies and organisations such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation to "pressure" the governments to sign.

According to Devonish, the council, with the aid of the University of the West Indies, will be from writing a right for the freedom of language discrimination for the constitutions of Caribbean countries.


"A majority of the population are disenfranchised because they speak a particular way," he said.

Professor John Baugh, a linguist from the United States, commended the Caribbean countries for the creation of the charter.

"The United States does not have an official language, no official policy and no intention to make an official language. I think you guys are making history with this charter, and it is clear that you have regional cooperation," said Baugh.

"I think many people are unaware of the popularity of Jamaican culture that is strongly represented in the sales of Bob Marley's albums. Young and old think highly of the Jamaican culture that sends the message of harmony and respect for your fellow men," Baugh said.

"You, [Jamaicans] have to acknowledge what you speak, Jamaican (Jamaican Creole), is no less significant or less important than English," declared Baugh.

- Dania McKenzie