French is usually referred to as an elite language in the context of Haiti. By contrast, Haitian Creole is acknowledged as the language of the people. In this essay, Nadève Ménard argues that it is crucial to move beyond this simplistic paradigm. While the Caribbean is generally celebrated for its multi-culturalism, Haitian linguistic plurality tends to be denied outright or disparaged as a characteristic of the exploitative members of the elite. Yet multilingual Haitians include not only those of the middle and upper classes but also those living along the border with the Dominican Republic and vendors traveling between Haiti, Curacao, Panama, and the Bahamas, as well as return migrants and others. The author posits that the insistence that all multiligual Haitians belong to the same socioeconomic category depends on the image of the authentic Haitian as poor, illiterate, and monolingual. Further, defining the authentic Haitian as monolingual essentially perpetuates the denial of linguistic rights for the majority of the Haitian population.
Research Article|November 01 2014
Nadève Ménard; The Myth of the Monolingual Haitian Reader: Linguistic Rights and Choices in the Haitian Literary Context. Small Axe 1 November 2014; 18 (3 (45)): 52–63. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-2826452
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