Language Reform: Sound Advice from beyond the Grave

By P. Soobarah

It would appear that the government has firmly decided on introducing the grafilarmoni script for writing the Creole language in our education system. At the Genocide Watch Group we welcome the use of Creole as a support language, but we remain convinced that the grafilarmoni script being proposed will kill off French.

After having successfully dealt with Tamil, Telugu and Marathi, and given a body blow to Bhojpuri, the Kreolophiles have now settled on French  as the next language to be given the genocidal treatment. The recent desperate effort undertaken in extremis may help rescue Bhojpuri from the deathbed, but that remains to be seen yet. Does Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam wish to be remembered as the Prime Minister who buried French? He himself speaks the language beautifully, as his recent speeches have showed. But then so does Mr Steve Obeegadoo, who also has impeccable French – in addition to English. He actually cleared the burial ground and dug the grave.

We recently chanced upon two important documents by great patriots whose motivation and concern for the national interest and the welfare of our citizens cannot be questioned. One was a book entitled “Parlez Créole – Guide Pratique Pour Touristes” whose lead author was none other than James Burty David, once a Minister of Education, and the other was the text of a speech by the late Uttama Bissoondoyal, formerly Director of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute, that he gave in late eighties. (It is also reproduced in his book “Gandhi and Mauritius – and other essays” – MGI Moka 1988.) James Burty David uses a script for Creole that would be largely acceptable to us, and is not in any way inimical to French orthography. We commend it to the Ministry of Education. Uttama Bissoondoyal’s article is so heavily laden with sound, sensible advice that we believe that Mauritius Times readers – as well those in the government responsible for language education policies – should read again in extenso.

P. Soobarah

* See: ‘Make haste slowly: The Problems and Politics of Language Reform’, by Uttama Bissoondoyal

* Published in print edition on 22 October 2010

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