In response to concerns expressed by Creole constituents throughout the country, the Creole Heritage Center [CHC] initiated a consortium of agencies and individuals to document and address language change and loss in Louisiana Creole communities.
The population of fluent Creole French speakers in Louisiana is rapidly declining, and intergenerational transmission of the language is severely limited. Each year finds fewer Creoles under 50 years old able to converse in the vernacular French language of their forebears. Although prior language studies have been conducted, those studies were not designed with the needs of the communities in mind, nor are the results of these studies easily accessible to most members of Creole speech communities with multiple dialects.
What do you think?
I believe very strongly that Creole people are the owners of the Creole language and culture. Decisions about the language need to be made by Creole communities. But in order for that to happen, people have to have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about their lives.
I never thought I'd be among the 'last generation of speakers' of Louisiana Creole. But I recognize that if something major is not done and done quickly, that's how it will be. When our generation goes to its graves, the language will essentially die with us. I also realize that speakers of our generation have been pretty active over the years in regards to the language. We've done some good things, and taught the language to quite a few people. And there are some lovely young people out there with the ability and talent and drive to carry on. But for me, it's a little bit like having a business that's losing money. We're making some great sales to some great people, but not in volume enough to be able to feel confident about keeping the doors open. Quotes from a learned scholar and a Creole speaker
The Creole Heritage fully support these thoughts and firmly believes that we are the owners of OUR language and culture. It further believes that the Creole people should play a major role in the documentation, preservation and revitalization of this endangered language.We need your help to document and preserve the Louisiana Creole French language. Your input on the has helped meet future proposal needs.
A recent quote* probably says it best "Language is the DNA of a culture, and it is the vehicle for the traditions, customs, stories, history, and beliefs of a people. A lost language is a lost culture." It is the Center's goal to do everything it can not to lose this aspect of our culture. We are looking at a project that would be community-driven and provide long term sustainability.
The most important aspect of the proposed project will be to provide training in language documentation, which will result in qualified Community Researchers (nationwide) who range from fluent Creole speakers to those wanting to learn. This training program will create an infrastructure and network for this documentation to be passed on to future generations.