Hatian Creole:A Review Of Slavery And Creation Essay, Research Paper
Christopher Columbus claimed Haiti when he landed there in 1492. Arawak Indians were the original inhabitants of this island when Columbus arrived. Later, the island became a colony of England. Haiti remained virtually unsettled until the mid-17th century, when French colonists, importing African slaves, developed sugar plantations in the north. Under French rule from 1697, Haiti (then called Saint-Domingue) became one of the world’s richest sugar and coffee producers. Soon, Haiti became a land of wealth with the vast use of slavery as their method of production. The rising demand for sugar, coffee, cotton, and tobacco created a greater demand for slaves by other slave trading countries. Spain, France, the Dutch, and English were in competition for the cheap labor needed to work their colonial plantation system producing those lucrative goods. The slave trade was so profitable that, by 1672, the Royal African Company chartered by Charles II of England superseded the other traders and became the richest shipper of human slaves to the mainland of the Americas. The slaves were so valuable to the open market – they were eventually called “Black Gold.”
Plantation owners began to be represented in the colony either by their agents or plantation managers, who kept them, informed of production levels, profits, expenses, and the general operations of the plantation. The arrogance and conceit of these agents, or procurers, was that they were surrounded by a multitude of domestic slaves to satisfy every want or need of their own. The greater number of domestic slaves one may have entails a great amount of prestige for these people in their time of the early 1700’s and no though was given to the immoral ways and acts taken by their race because they though it not an issue. Plantation owners and those of the like continued to be heavily involved in social aspects of culture and the French way of life. Commuting from their authoritatively constructed world of pleasure in France with wealth and prestige combined with the occasional visits to the plantation for business. The life of a plantation owner and those that surround him is of luxury and negative profusion.
The Haitians are almost wholly black, with a culture that is a unique mixture of African and French influences. Haiti was a French colony until 1791 when, fired by the example of the French Revolution, the black slaves revolted, massacred the French landowners and proclaimed the world’s first black republic. As noted, this is the first revolution of slaves against their owners and their success did not go unnoticed. The treatment of slaves around the globe is quite unjust.
Because of the colonization of Haiti by France, the importation of African slaves, and the original inhabitants, the Arawak Indians, three languages were spoken on the island. This sparked a need for a common language between the inhabitants of the island. In fact, a large factor in the success of the Haitian Revolution (1804) was the creation of Haitian Creole through African dialects and French. The fact that the majority of the residents spoke their language made their domination even more prevalent. The language was created through the slavery and the need for communication. The people of Haiti were also aware that Creole was spreading to Jamaica as well and their match had been met. ‘Invisible’ and anxious to be ’seen’ by their masters, the privileged few of the black culture and the mass of freed blacks conceived of visibility through the eyes of their masters’ already uncertain vision of life.
The slaves of Haiti rose up against their French and mulatto masters in August of 1791. This marked the beginning of the end of one of the greatest wealth-producing slave colonies the world had ever known. The early leaders forming the core of this movement were Boukman Dutty, Jeannot Bullet, Jean-Francois, and George Biassou. Later, slaves armies were commanded by General Toussaint who was eventually betrayed by his officers Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Henri Christophe who opposed his policies. The revolt consisted of long days and nights and the energy to continue to fight and defend their cause. It ended in 1804 and the island of Haiti became a free land without slavery.
Haitian Creole preserves much of French phonological, morphological, syntactical, and lexical characteristics, but a merger of both French structural features and West African features characterizes the language. The inflectional system of French is greatly reduced. As with the pidgin languages, which result from the need to communicate with the overseers and those who did not share the same language, this was a development in linguistics, which is still studied today. The expansion and strength of the languages are a part of our history and are present in other lands of slavery and persecution. Although pidgin is used for trade only and for no social communication, its use resulted in a new form of communication, or language, for the new people in the New World. The bioprogram hypothesis (Gooden handout) “claims that Pidgin/Creole is the “invention” of children growing in a multiracial community. These children find the “language” being spoken inadequate and without enough structure to function as a natural language.” This is true because the children and women slaves needed to communicate with others slaves from different African dialects and they needed to communicate with the overseers as well.
Today, Haitian Creole is spoken by 95% of the people who live there. It is also has the largest number of speakers of the Caribbean Creoles. Speakers include 700,000 in Haiti; 159,00 in the Dominican Republic; and 200,000 in New York City. French is an official language along with Haitian Creole, yet many people in Haiti do not speak French. It became the official language in 1804 at the end of the revolution. The Haitian flag was a result of removing the white band from the French flag and turning it on its side. The decision for the flag came from those who were victorious in the revolution and its leaders of freedom.
It is also meaningful to know that many of the migrants from Haiti are driven not only by political issues but also by the immense amount of AIDS and other third world country issues like potable water, deforestation and soil erosion. Although, Haiti is still plentiful with trees and vegetation, a large amount of their farmland is being destroyed and food has become a rare commodity to those who are underprivileged. They result in fleeing the country and in the 1980’s, it was reported than more than 500,000 Haitians had migrated to the United States, legally and illegally, to New York, Miami, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia.
The information on Haitian Creole is quite scarce and the resources of worthwhile information regarding the creation and purpose Creole has served in Haiti, and other places, is not available. Many resources regarding the Haitian Revolution are present and the requirement focuses more on the impact and development of the language. The ability to make communication work in a confused and inappropriate era of turmoil in the eyes of the slaves is a profound result of God and life. The development of another language out of others is mind-power, strength, inventiveness and tenacity. The people of Haiti continue to be mistreated and neglected by many countries of the United Nations. The United States can apply only so much support to one country since we are looking after many countries as the lead nation in the world as support. The assistance that is needed by Haiti is of immense detail and the feats of success are few and far between for many of the local people in Haiti. Problems exist here because of the age-old tradition of neglect and desecration of the people of Haiti and their ancestors who hands created the land of wealth that benefited those before them.
Scott III, Julius Sherrard “The Common Wind” UMI Publishing 1986
Dayan, Joan “Haiti, History, and the Gods” University of California Press 1995
Fick, Carolyn E. “The Making Of Haiti: The Saint Domingue Revolution from Below” The University of Tennessee Press 1990
http://babel.uoregon.edu/romance/rl407/creole/haitian.html Title: Haitian Creole Yahoo search
http://www.eli.wayne.edu/students/Newsletter96F1/creole.html Title: The Origin of Haitian Creole Yahoo search