Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sociolinguistic Research on Attitudes and Use of Creole, English and Spanish Languages to Support the Departmental Language Policy

By ZORAIDA FIQUIARE ESCALONA B.A in Bilingual Education in Project Management

This paper is about the research done on the Social and Linguistic situation of the three languages (Creole, Spanish, and English) in contact on the Archipelago of San Andres, Old Providence and Santa Catalina.
In the year 2011, the government of San Andres began to work on a Language Policy for the entire Archipelago. With the support of the National University, INFOTEP (a post-secondary technological institute) and other institutions, they began a research Project called the Language Policy of the archipelago of San Andres, Old Providence and Santa Catalina.
In spite of the neglect of many governmental officials, this Project began in 2011 and ended with a final report in 2013.
It all began with the planning of research activities. We started by receiving training courses using a Methodological guide on how to research for specific information.
I was fairly new to work on this type of research so I started by translating to Creole the questions that would be asked at each Meeting held for the purpose of approaching the different communities.
We had meetings with people from the community, including elders, leaders, women, younger children. In these meetings we asked questions, and opened a space for discussion. We taped these discussions and then transcribed the information obtained for further studies.
We studied several facts, such as:

FACT 1 The intergenerational transmission of the three Languages.

How di nyuu ginarieshan laan di Langwij? (pikniny an yong pipl)

What was our interest?

Wid dis kweschan: da how di langwij de paas dong tu di nyuu ginarieshan? das wai di impuortant fi dem explien how yo laan di langwij, if yo laan ih huom chruu yo granpierans, yo pupa, yo muma or enibady fahn di komunity, da skuul or wid wan fren, or if dis no de hapm, explien wai di no de hapm.

FACT 2 Numbers of speakers in comparison with the whole population.

Huu da di pipl dem ina di komunity weh taak di Langwij?

Ya so wi hafi ansa, weh ginarieshan taak di langwij, if di granpierans, pierans, pikniny or aal di pipl dem fahn di komunity stil taak ih. Yo hafi explien klierly weh iej a pipl (granpierans, pierans, pikniny) yuuz di Langwij fi komunikate.

FACT 3 What are the changes in the use of the languages?

Weh  an wen wii taak wi langwij?

Wid dis kweschan wi waah nuo weh an wen di pipl dem fahn dih komunity taak Creole, fi nuo how an wid huu dem taak ih, or if dem riplies ih fi Spanish or English.

Wid dis kweschan wih hafi ansa if dem yuuz fiwi langwij huom, da skuul, ina dem diely laif, wid di aatarity dem, ina miitin, or enywie els.

FACT 4 We wanted to find out: How important the Languages were in the Communication system?

Pipl taak truu internet, fuon, da skuul, da work, ina dem mada tong?

Eksplinieshan: wid dis kweschan wi waah nuo if wen dem yuuz fuon/internet dem yuuz wi mada tong.

FACT 5 An immediate task was to know what materials were on the island in Creole and what we could find in other creole speaking countries such as Jamaica.

Wi gat ritn matiiryal ina Creole Langwij?

Eksplinieshan: wid dis kweschan wi waah nuo weh kaina matiiryal wi gat ina creole; laik buk, stuoriz, vidios, eny ada matiiryal, an den ditormin, weh kain ah matiiryal wi deh yuuz ina edukieshan.  Dis da somting wih hafi gat klier if wi gat matiiryal or wi no gat non.

FACT 6 The attitude of the community members.

Fiwi Langwij impuortant fi wi komunity?

Eksplinieshan: wid dis kweschan wi waah nuo weh di langwij miin fi wih komunity. Di gud an di bad bihievia wid dih langwij, dat disaid if wi kiip di langwij. 

Dis kweschan wahn mek wi andastan how strang wi langwij an wah mek ih strang or if ih wiik wahn mek ih wiik.


Weh wi wan du ina di lang, miidyum an shaat taim fi strentn di nietiv langwij?

Fi get up dis informieshan wi hafi si weh okieshan dem de propuoz fi kiip wi langwij laiv. Dis informieshan wi tek ih up chuu diely taak ina di komunity, skuul an huom.

The main task I had was to prepare Language explanations and data in Creole that were used for the focus groups. The focus groups are one´s through which we gathered voices and data to recommend a Language policy for the Department. The use of the three languages was a must in these scenarios.
The other task was to determine the Corpus of the Creole Language Publications. The idea here was to make an inventory of what has been produced in English based Creole Languages, indicating where these products are from: Jamaica, Nicaragua, Belize… It included: dictionaries, story books, text books, literature, books of the Bible, etc.  And, whether it was possible to find samples of what has been published by editing houses, or others. Some had been a result of individual efforts, others institutional.
My role in this Project was complemented by a number of other studies carried out by other experts and local institutions.  The result of the research were published by the Language Policy Commission in the form of a final document and presented to the local government for their approval and implementation. University
Unfortunately, the Final Report did not take into account the work done by the Christian University Corporation on the proposed orthography writing for Creole and material produced for pre-school and first grade in Creole and English denominated “Project 2000”.  Neither did it take into account research findings regarding community and youth opinions favorable to reading and writing in Creole.

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