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These are all dying languages spoken spontaneously and frequently only by elderly persons in specific parts of the island.

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One of the first steps in language documentation is the assessment of resources. A formal assessment of the written language corpus reveals that most of the extant TFC written records represent a wide range of genres original and translated narratives, tales, songs, proverbs and riddles, recorded and collected since the start of the nineteenth century.

They have not been widely circulated outside publications, often difficult to access, and which were generally produced for members of academic and other circles among whom TFC is at best a second language. Quoting extensively from a UNESCO document, A language that can no longer be maintained, perpetuated, or revitalized still merits the most complete documentation possible. This is because each language embodies unique cultural and ecological knowledge in it. It is also because languages are diverse. Documentation of such a language is important for several reasons: 1 it enriches the human intellectual property, 2 it presents a cultural perspective that may be new to our current knowledge, and 3 the process of documentation often helps the language resource person to re-activate the linguistic and cultural knowledge UNESCO Thomas cf.

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The collection uses a cross- and multi-disciplinary approach, including linguistic, literary and ethnographic analyses. The purpose of the work is twofold: to document and catalogue existing authentic texts as well as to make available tools and sources appropriate for language revitalization. The work makes TFC literary culture available to a series of wider audiences, most importantly to those people who have grown up with this language as part of their cultural heritage, and aims to formally support informal language preservation efforts currently under way mostly in online social networks.

The collection draws on texts, all annotated by the editors, ranging from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries, and presented in their original and varied often French-based or even English-based orthographic transcription s. The editors also propose to re-transcribe selected texts into the modern standardized orthography existing for Lesser Antillean French Creole. The collection accompanies the ongoing process of recording, transcription and creation of modern texts, and will be a source book for scholars of linguistics attempting to understand changes that have taken place, and above all, for individuals and communities hoping to revitalize the language of their forebears.

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The range of extant written sources includes the following: 1. Grammars Thomas and , Scott and in progress ; 2. Dictionaries Aub-Buscher forthcoming, and general dictionaries such as Winer with over 1, items of TFC origin and word lists Ryan , and general word lists and popular dictionaries such as Ottley , , Baptiste , Mendes , Penard , Ryan inter alia ;1 3.

Translations Thomas ; 7. Academic writings Aub-Buscher , and , Baksh-Soodeen , Bryan , Carr , Corne , Goodman , Hancock , Jourdain , Pastner , Penard , Ransau and , and Taylor ; and several other unpublished conference papers cf Grant and student projects; 9. Internet sources, such as Facebook, a wiki Ferreira et al. At the time of his death in , Thomas was working on a second edition of his groundbreaking grammar, to be called Gramme Creyol: Being the Theory and Grammar of Creole Grammar.

Oral Sources Based on fieldwork by Hodge and Ferreira between and , including 20 recorded interviews with 35 people in 12 villages, representing 20 hours, an initial assessment of the current ethnolinguistic vitality of TFC in Trinidad reveals the following. While situated only five miles north-west of Port of Spain, as the crow flies, and suburban areas such as lower Maraval and Petit Valley both along the Morne Coco Road in opposite directions , mountainous Paramin has become the bastion of TFC.

Joseph and Pt Cumana. The range of oral sources available comes from speakers from these areas. In Paramin, there are now over 4, current residents in the village according to the census, there were 3, residents. In a interview with Richard Mendez, then primary school teacher and currently acting principal of the primary school4 and also census officer for over 20 years, Mendez estimated that approximately 30 per cent of Paramin residents were TFC speakers, of varying degrees of competence.

He became literate in TFC in He confirmed that the use of TFC, even in Paramin, was mainly restricted to private use, among those over 50 in informal get-togethers, and that only one primary school child in his care had learnt TFC as a mother tongue. Mendez noted that while most community members would easily say they were proud of TFC, nostalgic attitudes dominated. It is the tertiary-educated of Paramin, whether resident there or not, who maintain the most positive language attitudes towards TFC. In Paramin, the language is strongly associated with issues of identity and what it means to be a Paraminian, in that residents perceive that they have a unique, shared cultural identity with others in their community.

The village is still home to cultural events that are closely associated with the language. The village has also attracted a number of film and documentary makers, including both students and professionals see Cadiz-Topp and de Verteuil and Morris and Vialva All native and still fluent TFC speakers are bilingual, the oldest born in now almost , and the youngest born in now 32 years old , both male.

The issue for TFC is publicity, and advising would-be users of the language that an adequate and valid orthography already exists. One possibility for standardization is the establishment of a national Patois Council, in conjunction with the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism and their Remember When Institute. Such a Council would be the reference point for the rewriting and republishing of old books and song compilations, and for giving advice on new productions. New works have benefitted from contact with UWI sources and advice on orthography, all of them using the recommended standard.

Such a Council would function like a language academy and can also give advice on pronunciation of TFC words for new songs, radio programmes and other published audio-visual media. Because TFC in Trinidad has been and still is closely associated with rural life, it has a richly developed lexicon in the areas of flora and fauna, and it is lexicon from these linguistic domains that have most heavily contributed the more widely spoken English and English Creoles.

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For example, in the area of fauna, there are common names of birds of French and TFC origin, 20 mammals, 29 insects, 83 fish, 30 snakes, and in the area of flora, there are plants and trees with common names of French and TFC origin, and a variety of other natural phenomena Winer A number of these words of French and TFC origin have been obsolete for a long time and are unknown to even many modern speakers of TFC. Linguistic expansion includes language development and language use in domains not necessarily traditionally occupied by the language in question.

Discussion on social networking sites such as Facebook have focused on what sources to use, namely, whether or not to borrow from French and adapt the phonology or morphology to TFC, borrow from another French-lexicon Creole such as Haitian, borrow from English and other languages, or use compounding and other word formation processes in TFC using existing TFC words.

Each choice represents different theoretical and ideological positions, and the debate will continue for some time. Predictably, in most areas of urban life, speakers tend to code-mix and borrow heavily from English. He is in his 20s, and has been keen to develop new vocabulary, using morphological and lexical resources from within the language, and some borrowing from Haitian and Martiniquan. He also authors a teaching blog and gives advice to other bloggers from Trinidad, such as Paul Hadden and others.

A number of language learning materials are already available but concentrate on St Lucian French Creole, and French-French Creole bilingual materials for Martinique and other French Caribbean territories, and Haiti. Younger generations already accustomed to smart phones could be attracted to TFC language learning apps designed especially for learners, and with reference to written and oral sources already available in TFC, including those written sources to be republished using the standard modern orthography.

Revitalization or Reclamation? In practice, use of the language tends to be and family- and village-based. Both revitalization and reclamation require concerted and extensive community efforts. Revitalization involves rallying individual fluent native speakers and others of varying fluency, even though there may be significant language shift and loss at the individual and community level.

In the case of reclamation, fluent native speakers no longer exist or are inaccessible, and more radical language planning would have to be involved. At the time of writing, TFC has enough native speakers to make revitalization possible, at least at community levels, if not at the national level. The issues here are not numbers of native speakers, though they are an increasing minority, but larger issues such as national language planning, including the recognition of heritage languages, changing language attitudes, introducing supportive legislation and multilingual and multicultural educational policies, developing and maintaining links with similar communities such as Grenada and Venezuela, and of course, the engagement of theoretical and applied linguists and the academy, in general.

Most teaching programmes are geared towards adults and have been delivered by both native language L1 and second language L2 teachers, with two attempts to teach the basic TFC to the children of Paramin and some in Maraval, in addition to ongoing adult classes in Tunapuna and at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine.

Solomon There is increasing concern and interest in language revival and revitalization, not only in traditional communities, but among descendants of TFC speakers no longer tied to specific villages, and known to each other in online communities. Given the rich and varied range of extant written and oral sources, still available to the researcher and to the language learner, language revitalization is a real possibility, requiring effective management as well as support from academic, corporate and public sectors Crystal , Grenoble and Whaley , Levine and Leavitt.

References Amery, R.

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Slang you should learn before visiting Trinidad and Tobago [audio]

Phoenix or Relic? Documentation of Languages with Revitalization in Mind. Language Documentation and Conservation, 3 2 , December : — Revue de linguistique romane, 32, — Introduction to New Beacon Reprint of Thomas The Theory and Practice of Creole Grammar. London: New Beacon Books. Baksh-Soodeen, R.

Appendix:Glossary of Trinidadian English

PhD thesis. Baptiste, R. Matoury: Ibis Rouge.


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Besson, G. Voice in the Govi. Port of Spain: Paria Publishing Company.

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