Tongue Tied & Frustrated

In Dominica, Kwéyòl (creole/patois) is the traditional language, a coveted gift from our ancestors. Many natives both home and abroad use it to add flavour to their speech and also to leave eavesdroppers at a loss.

Sadly, the truth is … I don’t speak Creole very well – at all. To date, I can only understand creole conversations – barely, and I get severely tongue tied when it comes to actually speaking the language; which can be very embarrassing.

And I’m not alone. If you were honest with yourself, you’d admit that you know at least 6 people in the same position.

With all my heart, I want to be able to have a fluent conversation in Creole.

Far Beyond: “Sa ka fete?” (What’s going on?)

“Mwen la, mwen la.” (I’m fine, I’m fine.)

I want to have something unique, other than my accent, that I could carry around all the time to let the world know that I am Dominican; which would totally help with the: Dominica versus the Dominican Republic confusion.


Yet, time and time again I have been denied the right to speak Creole. Do you know how frustrating, or humiliating it is to be Dominican and be unable to speak patois? It’s the same as not knowing what crab-back looks like, or not knowing who the president is.

I think that it should be a basic requirement. Every child should be able to speak Creole, regardless of whether they’re from the city or not.
Every other country has codes, slangs or sublanguages. We are aware of all the American ones, but do we know our own? We don’t.

But who is to blame? I say our parents, guardians, grandparents or whichever patois speaking adult who raised us.
The individuals who covet this important piece of culture and stuff it away, and are justifying their actions with absurdities like, “Creole is for big people, not for you.” And the oh-so-famous, “I’m talking about you; I don’t want you to understand.”
They refused to teach us the language, and look at us now… barely cracking a creole sentence. It’s ridiculous!

With no one willing to teach, or even translate, many of us have abandoned our traditional language and we haven’t looked back since. Sure, some of us can understand a few bits and pieces of a conversation. But is that enough?

Language forms part of our identity, and if we deny that part of ourselves, then who are we pretending to be? Who are we pretending to sound like? If this generation doesn’t take up the responsibility to take this aspect of our culture seriously, then Creole will die a sad and lonesome death.

Just think about it, if your grand parents were to pass away, who else in your family could speak creole as great as them? If you can count 5 persons, you are in luck. If not, you should try as best as you can, to make a commitment to learn the language.  Experts predict that half of the 7000 languages in the world will be nonexistent by the next century, please don’t make our Creole one of them. After all, things sound much better when “ou di’y an Kwéyòl” (you say it in creole).

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