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"Linguistic Rights"

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What Language Should a Nation Officially
Call Its Own?

2011 International Mother Language Day: The information and communication technologies for the safeguarding and promotion of languages and linguistic diversity

Caribbean delegates press for language rights
BY LUKE DOUGLAS Career & Education writer January 30, 2011
DELEGATES from at least 12 Caribbean countries, including two governors general, met in Jamaica for two days recently, to press for the recognition of the rights of persons who speak Creole languages as a part of overall human rights.
The delegates, including a number of linguists, said speakers of the region's Creole languages have a right to be communicated with in their first language, and not be discriminated against in accessing important services, including education, health and the justice system.
Participants also learned that in St Lucia, the governor general delivers parts of her Throne Speech to Parliament in Antillean Creole, while many words in Jamaican or Belizean patois are not a corruption of English as is widely thought.
The Conference on Language Policy in the Caribbean, hosted by the Jamaican Language Unit of the University of the Indies (UWI), was held at the Mona campus on January 13 and 14.
International Centre for Caribbean Language Research (ICCLR) planning committee member Professor Hubert Devonish said speakers of local languages are denigrated and not given proper service by the public services and the courts. "People who speak local languages have rights to fair treatment in the legal system to good treatment in government offices and the use of their language in education to make them literate," he said. "This is not to say that they are not to learn the European languages as well, but it makes their learning of English, French and Dutch more effective if we approve support and encourage their native languages as well," Devonish added. A charter to be signed by regional governments and civil society groups was to be produced at the end of the conference. Also, there is a proposal to put freedom from discrimination on the basis of language in the Jamaican Constitution. Governor General of St Lucia Dame Pearlette Louisy, a language scholar and novelist, said since 1980, efforts to formulate a Creole-use policy in the formal education system and calls for a national commission on the Creole use have not materialised. "The political will that would sustain such initiatives has not been tested by popular demand. For St Lucians, there is an ambivalence about the language," she observed.
Dame Pearlette said many St Lucians believe Creole "cannot be expressed for real thought or used for serious expression" and should only be used for "jokes, songs and entertainment". However, she said that since 1984, International Creole Day has been observed in St Lucia and since 1998, on the request of then Prime Minister Kenny Anthony, she has read parts of the annual Throne Speech in Creole. Dame Pearlette also disclosed that the 2001 National Cultural Policy officially recognised and supported the research and preservation of the Creole language. The New Testament and selected Psalms of the Bible in Creole in both text and audio have been produced. She noted that the Caribbean Community (Caricom)-endorsed Education for All Plan of Action 2000-2015 called for sustaining and preserving indigenous languages. There have also been Creole classes for public servants and professionals, and television talk shows in Creole. Professor Ian Robertson called for preservation of endangered languages because "languages provide a deep sense of self and have ways of behaviour associated with them". He said the death of languages was inevitable and that they should be properly preserved and archived. Robertson also pointed to the need to train persons to appreciate subtle differences in language that can affect Creole speakers seeking justice from the region's legal systems. There is also a need to clarify the role of Creole languages in the education system and this should be made clear to teachers, he said. "Where languages are available, those language ought to be given enough focus in (the education) system so that nobody would be unaware of their existence and significance in the society," Robertson said.
Governor General of Belize Sir Colville Young explained that the origin of many words in the Caribbean preserved the original pronunciation of English words, and were not "bastardised lingua". Examples of this include the words 'join', 'poison' and 'noise', pronounced 'jine', 'pizine' and 'nize' are closer to the 17th century English pronunciation of those words.

  1. Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights a statement that argues for the protection and encouragement of minority languages.
    Language Policy - n. and Whoever Owns the Language Owns the Conversation
    Standard English is the language of commerce, the language of the administrator.

    It will be the problem of the millennium to solve the post imperialist notion of superiority / inferiority . It is the American tragedy of racism, the underclass, class inclusion vs. exclusion in a capitalist system.
    "Language emits a social message and an intellectual message about the sender," Mamie Hixon, director of West Florida's Writing Lab and an assistant professor of English, told the Pensacola News Journal. "It's the barometer by which we measure a person's professional credibility."
  3. Interference or Separation? by Dr. Jeff Siegel
    The “standard” is the variety of language used in writing and the mass media - the variety you need if you want to get a college education or a high-paying job. It is the variety of the powerful, unmarked by any features associated with a particular powerless group. But people have come to believe the standard variety is inherently better than other varieties - more logical, more precise, even more beautiful. The result is that these other, nonstandard varieties have become stigmatized by society at large.
  4. Pidgins and Creoles and other Stigmatized Varieties
    Stigmatized varieties include social dialects, such as “working class English”; regional dialects, such as Appalachian in the USA, and ethnic or minority dialects such as African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and Australian Aboriginal English. Pidgins and creoles, such as Melanesian Pidgin and Hawai'i Creole English, are also stigmatized, as they are often considered to be degenerate varieties of the particular standards to which they are lexically related.
    Of course, linguists have shown that these varieties are legitimate, rule-governed forms of language and in no way intrinsically inferior (e.g., Labov, 1969). But as Mackey (1978, p. 7) has noted, “Only before God and linguists are all languages equal”, and because of continuing negative attitudes, the usual educational policy is to keep stigmatized varieties out of the classroom. This is in spite of the large amount of research showing that children learn better in a variety of language that they are familiar with (e.g., Thomas & Collier, 1997).
    Besides the belief that stigmatized varieties are illegitimate languages, there are two general justifications for such policies. First, there is the notion that you shouldn't take time away from learning the standard, which is after all, the language of education and the key to success (the “time-on-task” argument). But the main justification is that using a stigmatized variety in education will actually interfere with students' acquisition of the standard (the “interference” argument).
    Several scholars (e.g. Snow, 1990; Cummins, 1993) have already examined the time-on-task argument and show that it is not justified. The purpose of this article is to critically assess the interference argument. It starts off by presenting some views on interference and the justification for them. Then it describes the results of research on educational programs using stigmatized varieties. The rest of the article discusses some possible explanations for these results, drawing on research from psycholinguistics and from second language acquisition theory and practice.
  5. From The Islands To The Classroom and Back
  6. What Governments Give Dialect Official Recognition? Source - Mikael Parkvall Institutionen för lingvistik Stockholms Universitet SE-10691 STOCKHOLM (rum 276)
    To begin the discussion we might want to start out by asking what exactly do you mean by "language"? And you may want to consider how many people actually speak this "tiny obscure" language.
    Then Consider the Following:
    a) In about half of the world's countries, the major language(s) actually spoken by the people is also used for official purposes, including teaching. The average GDP per capita in these countries is over 11,000. USD. The average literacy rate is around 90%.
    b) In the rest of the world, a diglossic relationship reigns, usually involving schooling in a language other than that spoken natively by the pupils. The average GDP per capita in these countries is well below 6000 USD, and the literacy rate is 68%.
    c) The United Nations ranks countries according to a "human development index", which combines indicators such as life expectancy and health with economical and educational factors. 173 countries are thus ranked. The top 10 countries (Norway, Sweden, Canada, Belgium, Australia, USA, Iceland, Netherlands, Japan, Finland, in that order) all use their respective majority languages for all purposes. The least developed countries (still by the UN metric), on the other hand, almost without exception do not give their indigenous languages any recognition whatsoever.
    d) Jamaican has about ten times as many speakers as Icelandic does. Note how many people are actually speaking creole, obviously not a "tiny obscure" language.
  7. An Army, A Navy, and Ebonics
    Ohio State University This paper is the written version of presentations in Helsinki and Joensuu, Finland in 1997. A summary appears in the final section.
  8. Bring Aboriginal Cultures into the electronic age. "It's a form of democratization. It allows smaller groups a voice at a lot of different levels. Most computers, cannot support the phonetic syllabic characters used to represent Inuktitut in written language.
  9. Watch the movie called Rabbit Proof Fence Imperialism to Colonization Strategies of Rule
    What is humanitarianism in a colonial context and you can start questioning the arrogance of colonialism. - A True Story about Australian history and the practice of displacement that lasted from 1905 to 1971 was inspired by the belief the government was 'rescuing' the children from what it felt was a life of illiteracy and poverty. The children were placed in state homes and were trained to be maids or farm workers. The government hoped that eventually the children would be integrated into the white society. Story written by Doris Pilkington Gaimara, daughter of Molly Craig, who was 14 (& acted exactly like the US underground railroad conduct er Harriet Tubman) when Molly and two other girls walked over 1500 miles across the country in 1931 to escape the camp. in Australian History of the aboriginal children (half casts) stolen from families then taken to camps where they are forced to speak english only etc. One 14 year old girl leads the other two back home across a 1000 miles over 9 weeks time avoiding the tracker. This was an Australian first nation "underground railroad" story of runaway slaves for the colonial power. And the girls had to do this twice in their life. This colonial practice of destroying the fabric of aboriginal culture was practice up to 1970.
    The Cultures Observations Database is an open database of observations made by travellers and other observers, from ancient times to the present day, describing the behaviour of people in other (and their own) cultures. These observers may include anthropologists and other professionals, but are mainly ordinary people who have been in a position to note variances of behaviour between their own cultures and others.