UNIVERSAL FUNCTIONAL LITERACY
Literacy (reading, writing and counting) is not a skill for an elite alone. It should be a fundamental cultural element in the make-up of all human beings so that they may fully enjoy the fruits of civilisation. The functional literacy rate in our country is very low (around 30%) which means that the enormous sum of money invested is wasted. Why is that so? So long as we refuse to start literacy in the child’s mother tongue, we will perpetuate wastage and failure; we will continue to resort to party symbols to make some sense of the election process. That is not the road to modern civilisation. And yet we do have the needed resources to attain genuine and full universal functional literacy.
2 CREOLE LANGUAGES
We’ve been blessed with 2 creole languages: our national language (Mauritian) and our official language (English) which have similar syntactic structures and common lexical characteristics.
Here are some examples:
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MAURITIAN CREOLE: BOON OR BANE
There are two outlooks with regards to Mauritian Creole: a conservative and a progressive outlook. The conservatives are further divided into two camps: those who think that MC is just a dangerous, useless patois to be earnestly swept into the dustbin of history and those who believe it is the language of an ethnic group and so must be treated with seriousness and fairness. The progressives believe that MC is the most vibrant de-facto national language of the Republic and will eventually become the de-jure national language of a nation which is slowly growing in sinewy strength, complexity and brightness.
The conservatives have already lost the battle BUT a lot of work remains to be done in the fields of advocacy, creativity and research. Language planning, in a newly independent, multi-cultural country charting its course towards nationhood and forging a new identity, is faced with different sets of difficulties most of which are caused by prejudice and ignorance. What is the nature and main function of each language used in the country? What should be the status of the different languages? What teaching strategy do we need? Try to answer these questions and you’ll not only figure out the complexity of the issue but you will have to face an avalanche of insults and accusations by people who think they know what in fact they don’t know.
WHAT IS A CREOLE LANGUAGE?
“A creole is a pidgin language which has become the mother tongue of a community … It has often happened that, within a multilingual community, increasing numbers of people begin to use a pidgin as their principal means of communication. This causes a major expansion of the grammar and the vocabulary and the range of situations in which the language comes to be used. The children of these persons come to hear it more regularly and in due course some of them begin to use it as a mother tongue. When this happens, the language is known as a creole.” (Professor David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, second edition, page 346). There are dozens of known creole languages, the most pretigious among them being English. “The argument in favour of calling Middle English a creole comes from the extreme reduction in inflected forms from Old English to Middle English. The system of declension of nouns was radically simplified and analogized. The verb system also lost many old patterns of conjugation. Many strong verbs were reanalysed as weak verbs. The subjunctive mood became much less distinct. Syntax was also simplified somewhat, with word order patterns becoming more rigid. These grammatical simplifications resemble those observed in pidgins, creoles and other contact languages, which arise when speakers of different languages need to communicate. Such contact languages usually lack the inflections of either parent language, or drastically simplify them.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_English_creole_hypothesis)
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