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Freedom in the Black Diaspora: A Resource Guide for Ayiti Reimagined

Caribbean Creole Languages

There are six official languages spoken in the Caribbean and many more unofficial languages. Among the official languages are Dutch, English, French, Haitian Creole, Papiamentu, and Spanish. Two of these official languages, Haitian Creole and Papiamentu, are Creole languages. The use of European languages to the exclusion of Creole languages in the institutional infrastructure of Caribbean societies in places like schools, courts of law and other government establishments has had the effect of excluding large segments of the population from participating fully in civil society, a phenomenon that some scholars have described as linguistic apartheid. Nevertheless, Caribbean Creole speakers have actively maintained their languages through speaking Creole in all parts of the public sphere, despite Eurocentric hegemony. They have also created print and audio materials in Creole and established cultural organizations dedicated to the preservation of these languages. This section is an introduction to the power dynamics of language and linguistic diversity in the Caribbean.


The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

Nalo Hopkinson's writing is heavily influenced by her life growing up in Jamaica and includes Caribbean history and language as well as the area's traditions of oral and written storytelling. She now lives in Canada, where she has received the Sunburst Award for Canadian literature of the Fantastic. Her novels include "Skin Folk" and "The Salt Roads," in addition to her newest, "The Chaos." (Event date: September 23, 2012)

Tiphanie Yanique is the author of the short story collection "How to Escape from a Leper Colony," the picture book "I Am the Virgin Islands" and the novel "Land of Love and Drowning" (Riverhead). Her writing has won the 2011 BOCAS Prize for Caribbean Fiction, the Boston Review Prize in Fiction, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize and an Academy of American Poet's Prize. She has been listed by the Boston Globe as one of 16 cultural figures to watch out for and by the National Book Foundation as one of the 5 Under 35. Her writing has been published in Best African American Fiction, The Wall Street Journal, American Short Fiction and elsewhere. Yanique is also the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship. (Event date: August 30, 2014)