Interview: Emmanuel W. Védrine and Vilaire Chéry

(Emmanuel W. Védrine)

An interview with Vilaire Chéry1 on his his research dealing with an inventory of words expressions documented in the Haiti 's political context (from February 7 1986 to 2000). It was a pleasure to meet him during his research visit at Indiana University-Bloomington Creole Institute to share with us the idea of this research. (December 10 1999)

EV (Emmanuel W. Védrine): We welcome you Vilaire at Indiana University.

VC (Vilaire Chéry): Thank you Védrine. It's quite a pleasure for me to chat a little bit with you and to have the advantage of telling you something about the research that I am doing on “French vocabularies”, how they've been evolving in Haiti since 1986. When I say ‘1986', I refer in particular to ‘February 1986'. So, one of the things that interests me, is that I started out from an “observation”. I observe that since 1986 with the political and institutional changes taking place in Haiti , there is a new constitution that comes up with some new institutional realities. There are a whole bunch of reforms that occurred in the political structure of the country and then there is new phenomenon, the one dealing "liberasyon de lapawòl" (the liberation to talk) that gives everyone access to talking. Everyone is speaking on the radio, in the media, is writing in the newspapers. From there, a bunch of words were born; we would say they are circulation. There is a series of "neologies", a series of words that have been just created in the context of the time. The words that comes naturally, the first words are "dechoukaj" (uprooting; destabilizing, getting rid of), "dechouke" (to uproot; to destabilize, to get rid of) , "dechoukè" (a person who uproots; who destabilizes, gets rid of (sth.). Later, they are going to even talk about "rechoukaj" (rehiring; putting back to former position; re-establishment), "rechouke" (to rehire; to put back to former position; to re-establish) just to cite a few. The words, in which we are interested, are not just those that have been recently created; it's a whole series of words maybe that were in the society before but that were in restraining areas of the population that were parts of what we could call “a specialized vocabulary”. They could have been used by members of a particular profession or by a social group in particular. I think of a word like "dilatwa". It's a work that the law professional: lawers, jurists, mayors knew. Also, there are people in the society such as some scholars who know the meaning of this word. If they've read it, we would understand what it means but I did not have the chance to use the word. But since 1986 with “the political reality”, “the institutional reality” in question, for example “the parliament” that developed a series of practices. The word 'dilatwa' for instance, has left the "sphere" where it was evolving, that is to say “le monde des avocats, l'univers des tribunaux" (the lawyers' world, the courts' universe) in order to fall into "le language de Mr. Tout le monde" (the language of Mr. Everyone). That is: everyone, today in Haiti, knows the meaning of 'dilatwa' because very often, they use this word to define certain attitude of some of the parliament members, or such and such corps within the ‘parliament' who are trying to make ‘dilatwa' (beating around bush with an issue), in order to "win time" on a series of issues. So, the word now is one that takes the streets and goes to both Kreyòl and French (in term of its use). So, it's a word, today, that has become part of the “Haitian vocabulary”. So, in relation to that issue, there are“two notions” that we could evoke right away: that is what is called "passive” and active vocabulary". For the ‘passive vocabulary', it's a series of words that a society or a group within that said society may know; people may know the meaning of the word when reading it but don't have the chance to produce this word as so; they don't have the chance to use it because it's part of the reality of the people's life but when having the chance to read it either in books, hear it on television or on the radio; they understand its meaning. And there are other concepts that are “opposite”, “opposite of the ‘passive vocabulary', that's ‘active vocabulary'. The ‘active vocabularies' are all the words that exist and that pass through the society where everybody has the chance to use them in their daily life, in the practice of their trade or profession. So, that's the meaning. For the ‘active vocabularies' they also call it “productive vocabularies”. Many of the words that I've studied are a series of words that had a ‘passive vocabulary' status before 1986 because they are in an “active vocabulary” stage, that is: everyone uses them fluently.

EV: Well, we have heard all the discussions, and we know in this domain “new words” that are being becoming part of the language; the journalists play an important role in that. For example, we can take a series of ‘passive vocabularies' to revive or if we are doing a “diachronic study” and in the present time, a “synchronic study”, how may these words have other meanings? We can, for instance, take the word "lavalas", how it has taken such an extension from the month of “October 1990” where it had another meaning. I don't know, in this sense, how you can also comment about it in relation to your research?

VC: Thinking of he journalists, we can say the media, newspapers in general are what we could call: "une caisse de resonance" (a sound box) for the phenomenon that we are discussing now because we've just talked about 'liberasyon lapawòl sosyal' (the liberation of social talk) that took place after ‘February 7 86'. So, journalists play in important role in this 'liberasyon pawòl sosyal' besides everyone in the society, everyone who never took any side, yes in Politics or who were always staying away from these issues, everyone had something to say, everyone went to the media, to the radio, on television. Everyone talked and the journalists, themselves, play a super role in the domain of this language issue. Journalists are the ones who open their microphones to everyone who had something to say; they give their mikes to people to say whatever they had to say; many of them were specialists, politicians who were coming with new concepts. They (journalists), were using all these ‘new words', all the new meanings of these words can have; they are the ones who make them go through the society, "through the whole population". There is a series of words that have new meanings, meanings that they did not have before. You've just mentioned the word ‘lavalas' Vedrine. I also have it in my research. Truly, it's a word that has a new meaning since 1990. There is a bunch of words like that; if we take a word like "beton" (sidewalk; the streets paved with concrete, concrete) for instance. ‘Beton' is a word that had many meanings in the society but from 1986, 87, 88 this word has another meaning; it keeps all the meanings it had before but has a new one, a brain new one that is being added to those that existed before and this new meaning refers to what we could call "political affirmation". That is, if someone says to you now "ou pran beton an", it's not only to go to carnival in Chandmas but 'pran beton an' in the sense of trying to make a claim, fight for a right that you have. It's in this sense, the term 'beton' has now ‘a political meaning' also. 'Beton' is one of the places where people defend their rights, one of the places where people make their claims heard. So, we can say the word ‘beton' refers to a space of ‘political affirmation. That's in this same context that exists the expression that passes through Kreyòl and French known as "diplomate du beton / diplomat beton" (a street diplomat, a person claiming his rights in the streets). You must know what 'beton' is and, what it connotes.

EV: Also, these words don't only remain in Haiti but we know that they have an impact on Kreyòl spoken in the Diaspora, or on Haitians who are living there (they came via the media). We take Boston for instance where we hear these words: 'diplomat beton' in the political context where Haitians who are in the Diaspora and who don't even travel to Haiti often.


What has inspired you to undertake such a research?

VC: What has inspired me for such a work was an “observation”. I've observed that despite of all the “effervescing” that exists in the linguistic area, the way in which the population talks, the way in which the words are being created, the way in which the words are communicating new meanings all these things, there was not a research, an inventory documenting this phenomenon, a documentation to do an analysis of them and come with a synthesis. Well, many of these words are scattered in newspapers, are on tapes, used by radio stations and televisions but one could not find such a collective documention anywhere that was done about it. I first observed that gap, and there was no book with a collection of this phenomenon and one good day, I said: why don't I start a research on such a phenomenon? Because way before, what I usually noticed it, I used to say with my wife: look all the words that have been created but there is no research on that. And a good day, I said: why don't I start it out? And since I kept a collection of newspapers (those edited in the US , magazines published in Port-au-Prince , I said well I am going to take advantage of documenting everything in order to try to do the work). That's how when I studied the word, I wrote the it according to the way it's done in the dictionaries, but in general I came up with quotes from authors that I've found in the newspapers in order to show really that this word is used by many people or one that many people are making use of in a particular sense. For example, there is a word that I noticed; it's the word "acteur" (actor) in French. It's a word known by everyone, knowing what an ‘actor' is but when having the figurative use, everyone who plays a role in an event is an actor, but a particular use that I notice: one that has emerged, that's been appearing since 1986, 87, 88 in reference to “the people”. But when you say ‘people', it's not ‘the whole population”; no; it refers to “the popular group”, to what we could call “the popular mass” and quite often, many people consider ‘the people' as “the main actor” or as "l'acteur de premier plan". So, when I have "acteur" in my book, people can have this idea (meaning) being accepted, this particular meaning it take since 1987, 88 and I cite some excerpts. I believe I've cited four or five excerpts "emprunté à des auteurs différents" (borrowing from differents actors) where the word is being used in this sense. So “l'acteur principal c'est le peuple" (the main actor is the people). Naturally, this send you to another concept which is “liberation theology” where this flow of thought 'l'acteur principal' of a society is ‘the people' and when they say ‘the people', “particularly all popular categories of the population”: “the poorest categories”, “the untouchables”.

EV: O.K, in this for instance, we know the linguistic situation of Haiti is a “diglossia” where we have “2 languages”: one dominates the other (somehow), in a series of particular cases when we look at the use of the French and Kreyòl languages. How do you explain the relation of this word that exists in Kreyòl and French? Have they gone through both languages at the same time or in what language have they gone through at first?

VC: This is a very good question. I am quite happy you ask it. The work I've done, I write it in French but I could have chosen to do it in Kreyòl also because there's what is called “intersection”. There's a common base of word that pass through both languages. Often time, the words are born in a Kreyòl “communicative” context; for instance if we take the words 'dechoukay', 'dechouke', all of these words are in Kreyòl and French; they are born in Kreyòl but the French record them, adopt them; they even gives them a French form because of "de chou quer" whereas in Kreyòl it's "dechouke". In French, quite often, we find 'dechouke' is written "ker" but there are many people who write it also with "quer"; so, a French orthography. As you were saying, there are many of these words that were born in a Kreyòl context; afterward they passed through French but "à l'inverse" (the other way around), also many these words happen through a Kreyòl communicative context but it's a series of French words now that are going to pass through the society through an adapted Kreyòl. We could take the same word ‘dilatwa' cited above. It's these types of words, a series of words that are originally French but that pass through Kreyòl and everyone has adopted them. So, that is, I could have done the work in Kreyòl also instead of studying the evolution of the French vocabularies, studying the evolution of Kreyòl vocabularies of the time.

EV: We know that the way you talk, your sources are based a lot on the newspapers in terms of what's being reported. In the field (in the country), in terms of “oral” for instance, how have you tested these words at the same time with the people who speak the language? Do you just focus on newspapers, or do you go and people also?

VC: Truly, the case of "writing" is where I remain. So, naturally, I am living in the community; I have my own experience of these words, my own experience with these words that exist, words that from time to time are being used by people. Naturally, I have my own personal point of view that I try to put aside in order to let to let others speak. The other people that I let speak, generally speak in in the newspapers, periodicals , magazines that mention the situation or the words they are using but we could say that the new words that we take are words that, are of general use within the society. Naturally, there is a series of words, it's not all the categories of the population that say them. There is a series of words used more by “group of scholars” who tell them if they take a word like "sosyete sivil" (the civil society)… Now everyone is talking about ‘the civil society' in Haiti .

EV: What definition does it have now?

VC: The ‘Civil society' is what you could call "les secteurs organisés de la société" (the organized sectors of the society) who was establishing itself as a "counter power vis-à-vis the government" to the official instances. The ‘Civil society' is a concept that is naturally philosophical and which was developed by many authors of the past but not in the sense that it's being used in Haiti since 1987, 88, 89; it is in the sense of "the society of citizens, the community of citizens" as an organized group of sectors in the society that take “certain positions as citizen” that can make their point of views heard vis-à-vis what we call "leta" (the government). If we want, ‘a civil society' would be a sort of “counter power” that's there so that the government knows it is the only one that exists, to do whatever it wants. There is a ‘civil society' facing it, one that's making “some propositions” but who is intervening also when does not agree with certain things that are going on in order to let the government know that.

EV: Do you put a series of "popular organizations" in this category also?

VC: I don't know in what sense you use it.

EV: To make the government hear the claim of a series of group of people for instance.

VC: Yes, that's right. What we call ‘popular organizations' is what we call "groupe de pression" (pressure group), another very important notion in Haiti . I've also included it in the book; they are part of the ‘civil society'. It's a series of groups that don't have to be there to have an official political position as such but who is there within the ‘civil society'; they have their own point of views, claims, frustrations, opinions on series of issues; well they make their voice heard, so these groups are part of a dynamic one of what is called ‘the civil society' and the term ‘civil society' is found both in French and in Kreyòl. Everyone is talking about 'sosyete sivil' in Kreyòl.

EV: O.K. Thank you! Vilaire. I am going to take a quick pause. - - It's quite a beautiful work that you are doing in relation to ‘Creole and French lexicon' at the same time because we've mentioned the term ‘diglossia' where we can't talk about ‘French' and leave behind ‘Kreyòl'; we can't talk about Kreyòl and leave the French influence behind. The question I have for you now is: what do you think of the reaction of the public when this book is published where they are going to read this research, specially there are not too many people who have done this type of research? Well, I've started a similar type of research, a collection of words that was published in one of my books: Yon Koudèy Sou Pwoblèm Lekòl Ayiti (1994, “ Leksik kreyòl: ekzanp devlopman kèk mo ak fraz a pati 1986 ”. I am happy to see that there are people who are doing this work.

VC: I think it's a work that will be well received by the people because it's a work of research; it's work that is maybe going to talk about a series of phenomena maybe that many people have certainly observed already in the society either they reason, reflect on it or just observe it and that does not go further but I know when this work is published, many people will say: “hey, this was quite a need”; we needed someone to do this job. Me, I am very optimistic also; that's why even when I am tired, I work on it on Saturdays, Sundays; sometimes I stay late at night working on it because I know it's a work that many and people will receive with great pleasure. I must tell you also it's a research; it's true but I try to focus on a general public. So, it's a book though it will develop a universal methodology anyhow (we'd say) but will have a very strict methodology; at the same time, a book that will not only interest researchers but will also be there for anyone interested in what's going on “around” them, those who would interest in the language phenomenon. I think it is with lot of interests those people will have a copy in hand to look up (these) words and will think it's a source of discovery and enjoyment because me personally, I enjoy it. I have a great pleasure when discovering things, when I am writing these things; it's really a real pleasure for me. So, I think many people will have the pleasure just like me because it's a work, anyhow, that is directed to everyone. It's not only for those who are doing research dealing with linguistics issues. So, it's the whole public, a work for the whole public and with a methodology that is somehow a strict one.

(English translation by Emmanuel W. Védrine)

  1. Another interview with André Vilaire Chéry, author of: Dictionnaire De L'évolution Du Vocabulaire Français En Haïti (dans le discours politique, économique et social du 7 fev. 1986 à nos jours), Tome I [A-K, 2000, 204 p.), Tome II [L-Z, 2002, 316 p ). Éds.: EDUTEX. (‘Propros recueuillis par Rodney Saint-Eloi', Le Nouvelliste, lundi 18 déc. 2000). (summary).

“This dictionary is one of the rare research projects conducted in Haiti on 'Kreyòl lexicon'. It was quite a coincidence for me when I met André Vilaire Chéry last year (Dec. 1999) during a visit at Indiana University where he talked to me about this research and I realized that it was important to interview him in order to share with the public his ideas. Chéry is not new in the field of 'Kreyòl lexicon'; he is also one of the editors of the dictionary entitled Dictionnaire de l'écolier haïtien (published by Hachette - Deschamps) and many other teaching materials in Kreyòl.” Emmanuel W. Védrine.


Entèvyou: Emmanuel W. Védrine ak Vilaire Chéry

Yon Entèvyou ak Vilaire Chéry1 nan kad rechèch li sou yon envantè mo / espresyon li dokimantè nan konjonkti politik Ayiti a, soti 7 fevriye 1986 pou rive nan lan 2000. Se te yon plezi pou n te rankontre ak li pandan vizit li nan Indiana University-Bloomington pou l te pataje ide rechèch sa a ak nou. 10 desanm 1999.

Emmanuel W. Védrine

EV (Emmanuel W. Védrine): Nou di w byenveni Vilaire Chéry nan Indiana University.

VC (Vilaire Chéry): Mèsi Védrine. Monchè se yon gran plezi pou m fè ti pale avè ou e m ap gen okazyon di w de mo sou rechèch ke m ap fè sou vokabilè fransè, kijan l evolye an Ayiti depi 1986. Lè m di 1986', an patikilye, '7 fevriye 86'. Alò youn nan bagay ki te enterese mwen, m pati de yon "konstatasyon". M konstate depi 1986 avèk chanjman politik ki genyen Ayiti yo, chanjman enstitisyonèl, gen yon nouvèl konstitisyon ki vini avèk de nouvèl reyalite enstitisyonèl. Vin genyen tout yon seri de refòm ki vin fèt lan estrikti politik peyi a epui vin genyen yon lòt fenomèn, fenomèn "liberasyon de lapawòl" ki vin fè ke tout moun gen aksè a lapawòl. Tout moun ap pale nan radyo, nan laprès, ap ekri nan jounal. Se konsa vin genyen yon bann mo ki vin soti, ki vin pran lari, nou ta di. Gen yon seri de mo sa yo rele "newolojis", yon seri mo ki fèk kreye, ki kreye lan kontèks epòk la. Mo nou panse a li tou natirèlman, premye mo a, se yon mo kòm "dechoukaj", "dechouke", "dechoukè". Pita, yo pral menm pale de "rechoukaj", "rechouke" men se pa sèlman mo sa yo. Mo n enterese a yo se pa sèlman mo ki fèk kreye; se tout yon seri mo, petèt ki te nan sosyete a men ki te nan w kouch restrent nan popilasyon an, ki te fè pati de sa n ta ka rele "yon vokabilè espesyalize". Gendwa se manb yon pwofesyon ki itilize li oubyen se yon gwoup sosyal an patikilye ki itilize l. M panse a yon mo kòm "dilatwa". Se yon mo mesye pwofesyonèl dwa yo: avoka, jiris, majistra te konnen. Gen moun nan sosyete a tou, kèk entelektyèl ki te konnen sa mo a vle di. Si yo te li l, nou t ap konprann sa l vle di men yo pa t gen okazyon anplwaye mo a. Men depi 1986 avèk "reyalite politik", "reyalite enstitisyonèl" ke l vin bay, pa ekzanp "parleman" ki vin devlope yon seri pratik. Mo 'dilatwa' a pa ekzanp, li vin kite "sphère" kote l t ap evolye a, "c'est à dire, le monde des avocats, l'univers des tribunaux" pou l vin tonbe "dans le langage de Mr. Tout le monde". Sa vle di: tout moun jodiya Ayiti konn sa mo 'dilatwa' a vle di paske trè souvan, yo konn anplwaye mo sa a pou defini atitid sèten "parlemantè" ou tèl kò nan 'parleman' k ap eseye fè dilatwa, k ap eseye tamporize pou "gagner du temps" nan yon seri de kesyon. Alò mo a kounyeya se yon mo vin tonbe nan lari e lè l tonbe nan lari a, li pase ni nan krekòl ayisyen, ni nan fransè a. Donk se yon mo kounye a ki fè pati de "vokabilè ayisyen". Alò an rapò avèk kesyon sa a, gen "2 nosyon" nou ta kab evoke rapidman: se sa yo rele "vokabilè pasif" avèk sa yo rele "vokabilè aktif" la. 'Vokabilè pasif' la, se yon seri de mo ke yon sosyete oubyen yon gwoup nan sosyete a gendwa konnen; li gendwa lè l li mo a li konprann sa l vle di men li pa gen okazyon pwodui mo a kòm tèl; li pa gen okazyon anplwaye mo a li menm paske mo a pa fè pati de reyalite vi li men lè l gen okazyon li l swa nan liv, li tande l nan televizyon oubyen nan w radyo, li konprann sa l vle di. E gen yon lòt konsèp ki "contraire", "contraire de" 'vokabilè pasif' la se 'vokabilè aktif' la. 'Vokabilè aktif' la se tout mo ki genyen ki pase nan sosyete a, kote tout moun gen okazyon itilize l nan vi kotidyèn yo, nan pratik pwofesyon yo. Donk se sa. 'Vokabilè aktif' la, yo rele l ankò "vokabilè pwodiktif". Alò anpil nan mo m etidye yo se yon seri de mo avan 1986 te gen yon estati mo 'vokabilè pasif', pase yo nan w estad de "vokabilè aktif" sètadi tout moun anplwaye yo kouramman.

EV: Bon, nou tande tout diskisyon yo, e nou konnen nan domèn sa a tou nan "mo nouvo" k ap antre nan lang lan, jounalis yo jwe yon wòl enpòtan; pa ekzanp nou kapab pran yon seri 'vokabilè pasif' yo, vin reveye oubyen si n ap fè yon "etid dyakwonik" epi nan tan prezan, yon "etid senkwonik", kòman mo sa yo kapab vin pran lòt sans. Nou kapab pran mo "lavalas", kòman li pran yon estansyon apati mwa "oktòb 1990" kote l vin gen lòt siyifikasyon. M pa konnen nan sans sa a, kòman ou kapab kòmante tou sou travay rechèch ou a?

VC: Monchè, jounalis yo, nou gendwa di laprès, jounalis an jeneral se yon, sa n ta rele yon "caisse de resonance" pou fenomèn n ap pale la yo paske nou sot pale talè a de 'liberasyon lapawòl sosyal' ki fèt aprè '7 fevriye 86'. Ebyen jounalis yo jwe yon gran wòl nan 'liberasyon pawòl sosyal' sa a kote tout moun nan sosye a, tout moun ki pa t janm bò okenn pozisyon, wi politik oubyen ki te toujou rete aleka de kesyon sa yo, tout moun te gen w pawòl pou yo di, tout moun al nan laprès, al nan radyo, nan televizyon , tout moun ap pale e jounalis yo menm, yo jwe yon wòl estraòdinè nan fenomèn k ap pase nan domèn langaj la. Jounalis yo, se yo ki ouvri mikwo yo, oubyen tout moun ki gen yon baay pou yo di e nan baay moun k ap gen pawòl pou yo di a, gen anpil ladan yo ki espesyalis, òm politik k ap vini avèk nouvo konsèp, yo menm tou k ap repèkite tout 'mo nouvo' sa yo, tout sans nouvo ke mo yo kapab genyen, se yo menm ki fè l pase nan sosyete a, "dans l'ensemble de la population". Gen yon seri de mo ki vin pran nouvo sans ke yo pa t genyen. Ou sot mansyone mo 'lavalas' la Védrine. Mwen genyen l tou nan rechèch mwen an. Efektivman, se yon mo ki vin pran yon nouvo sans depi 1990. Gen w bann lòt mo konsa, si n pran yon mo kòm "beton". Beton se yon mo ki te gen plizyè siyifikasyon nan sosyetea men apati de 1986, 87, 88 mo 'beton' an vin pran yon lòt siyifikasyon; li vin genyen tout sans li te gen avan, li kenbe yo men gen yon sans nouvo, yon sans tounèf ki vin grefe sou sa k te la deja yo e sans sa a, li refere a sa n ta kab rele yon "afimasyon politik". Sa vle di si yon moun di kounyeya "ou pran beton an", se pa sèlman pou al nan kanaval sou Chandmas men ou 'pran beton an' pou fè pase yon revandikasyon, pou fè pase yon dwa, pou fè pase yon "priz de pozisyon" ke w genyen. Se nan sans sa a 'beton an' vin pran yon siyifikasyon politik. 'Beton an' se la ke moun defann dwa yo, se youn nan kote moun defann dwa yo, se youn nan kote, kote moun fè pase revandikasyon yo. Donk nou ka di 'beton an' li ranvwaye a yon espas 'afimasyon politik'. Se nan menm kontèks sa a gen w espresyon ki pase an kreyòl e an fransè nou tout konnen ki se "diplomate du beton / diplomat beton". Fò w konnen kisa 'beton an' vle di, kisa li konote.

EV: Se konsa mo sa yo tou, yo pa sèlman rete Ayiti men nou konnen gen yon enpak yo fè sou kreyòl nan dyaspora a, sou Ayisyen k ap viv nan dyaspora a atravè medya a. Nou pran Boston pa ekzanp kote nou tande mo sa yo: 'diplomat beton' nan konjonkti politik la kote Ayisyen ki nan dyaspora a ki pa vwayaje Ayiti souvan men, ki pran mo sa yo tou alafwa pa radyodifizyon.


Kisa k te pouse w antreprann yon travay konsa?

VC: Sa k te pouse m kòmanse yon travay konsa, se te yon konstatasyon. M konstate ke malgre tout efèvesans ki genyen nan domèn lengwistik la, nan jan popilasyon an pale, nan jan mo yo ap kreye, nan jan mo ap pran nouvo sans baay sa yo, pa t gen w sòt de travay, de rechèch ki te envantorye fenomèn sa a, ki te travay pou li, ki te travay yon dokiman analiz e de sentèz. Bon, nou konnen anpil nan mo sa yo, dispèse nan jounal, yo dispèse sou riban mayetik estasyon radyo ak televizyon men pa gen okenn kote ou ka jwenn yon travay dansanm ki fèt sou yo. M te konstate dabò vid la, e pa gen w liv ki fè yon travay dansanm sou fenomèn nan epi yon bon jou, m di: poukisa m pa kòmanse yon travay konsa? Paske byennavan sa m te toujou konn note baay la; m te konn ap di ak madanm mwen: gade tout mo k ap soti, gade tout mo k ap fèt men pa gen okenn travay ki fèt sou sa. Epi yon bon jou, m di: poukisa m pa kòmanse? E kòm mwen genyen koleksyon jounal, tout sòt jounal (sa k edite Etazini, revi k fèt Pòtoprens, m di bon m ap mete a pwofi tout baz dokimante sa a, pou m eseye fè travay la. Se konsa lè m etidye mo a, m dekri mo a selon jan yo fè sa nan diksyonè men an jeneral m vin avèk sitasyon otè ke m jwenn nan jounal ke m bay pou montre vrèman ke se yon mo ke anpil moun anplwaye oubyen yon mo ke anpil moun vin anplwaye nan yon sans detèmine. Pa ekzanp gen yon mo m note; se mo "acteur" an fransè. Se yon mo ke tout moun konnen, sa yon 'aktè' ye men l gen yon anplwa figire; tout moun ki jwe yon wòl nan w evennman se yon aktè li ye, men yon anplwa espesyalize m vin note ki emèje, ki parèt depi 1986, 87, 88 se lè w anplwaye mo 'aktè' a an referans a "pèp" men lè w di 'pèp', se pa "l'ensemble de la population" non, li refere a "kouch popilè yo", a sa n ta kab rele "mas popilè yo" e trè souvan anpil sektè, anpil moun konsidere 'pèp la' kòm "l'acteur prensipal" oubyen kòm "l'acteur de premier plan". Donk lè m gen "acteur" nan liv mwen an, mwen fè soti aksepsyon sa a, sans espesyalize sa a ke l pran depi 1987, 88 la epi m site kèk estrè. M kwè m site kat ou senk estrè "emprunté à des auteurs différents" kote ke mo a anplwaye nan sans sa a. Donk "l'acteur principal c'est le peuple". Natirèlman, sa a ranvwaye w a yon lòt konsèp ke n ta ka evoke "qui est la théologie de la libération" kote ke nan kouran de panse sa a 'l'acteur principal' yon sosyete se 'pèp la' e lè yo di 'pèp la', se "surtout les couches populaires de la population", "les couches les plus pauvres", "les couches les plus deshérités".

EV: O.K, nan sa pa ekzanp, nou konnen sitiyasyon lengwistik Ayiti a se yon "diglosi" l ye, kote nou gen "2 lang": youn domine lòt, nan yon seri ka espesyal lè nou gade itilizasyon lang fransè ak lang kreyòl. Kòman ou esplike rapò mo sa yo ki ekziste an kreyòl e an fransè: èske yo pase nan toulède lang yo alafwa oubyen nan ki lang yo pase an premye?

VC: Sa a se yon trè bèl kesyon, m byen kontan. Travay sa a m fè a, m fè l an fransè men m te ka chwazi tou pou fè l an kreyòl paske gen sa w ta kab rele yon "entèseksyon"; genyen yon fon komen de mo ki pase nan toude lang yo. Leplisouvan, mo yo fèt nan w kontèks de "kominikasyon" kreyòl anpil fwa, pa ekzanp, si nou pran 'dechoukay', 'dechouke', tout mo sa yo, yo fèt an kreyòl men fransè a vin anrejistre yo, li vin adopte yo, li menm ba yo fòm fransè puiske "de chou quer" alò an kreyòl se "dechouke". An fransè, trè souvan n ap jwenn 'dechouke' ekri "ker" men gen anpil moun ki ekri l tou "quer" donk, yon òtograf fransizant. Kòm m t ap di, gen anpil nan mo sa yo se nan yon kontèks kreyòl yo pran nesans, apre sa yo vin pase an fransè men "à l'inverse" gen anpil nan mo yo tou, se nan w kontèks 'kominikasyon kreyòl'; bon baay la ka fèt nan w kontèk de 'kominikasyon kreyòl' men se yon seri de mo fransè kounyeya ki pral vin pase nan sosyete a, atravè kreyòl ke kreyòl vin adopte. Nou te gendwa pran menm mo n sot pran la a 'dilatwa'; se jan de mo sa yo, yon seri mo ki fransè alorijin men ki pase nan kreyòl, ke tout moun adopte. Donk sa vle di, m ta gendwa fè travay mwen fè a nan kreyòl olye m etidye evolisyon vokabilè fransè a, m ta pral etidye evolisyon vokabilè kreyòl pou menm epòk la.

EV: Nou konnen jan w pale a, ou puize anpil nan jounal e sa ki rapòte nan jounal. Sou teren an, nan kad oral pa ekzanp, kòman ou teste mo sa yo alafwa avè pèp la ki pale lang nan: èske w rete nan jounal, ou al fè tès sou moun yo tou?

VC: Alaverite, esansyèlman, se nan kad "ekri" ke m rete. Alò, natirèlman mwen menm m ap viv nan kominote a, m genyen pwòp konesans pa m de mo yo, pwòp esperyans m fè de mo yo kòm mo ki ekziste, kòm mo ke deplizanpli moun ap anplwaye. Natirèlman, mwen gen pwendvi pèsonèl mwen ke m eseye mete de kote pou m kite pale lòt moun. Lòt moun m kite pale yo, jeneralman se nan jounal, se nan revi, se nan magazin ke nou fè relve sitasyon oubyen mo y ap pale yo men nou gendwa di ke mo nouvo nou pran yo, se mo ki an jeneral nan sosyete a. Natirèlman, gen yon seri de mo, se pa tout kategori nan popilasyon an ki di yo, gen w seri de mo se plis "klas entelektyèl la" ki di yo si n pran w mo kòm "sosyete sivil". Kounyeya tout moun ap pale w de 'sosyete sivil' la an Ayiti.

EV: Ki definisyon l pou kounyeya?

VC: 'Sosyete sivil' la se sa w ta kapab rele "les secteurs organisés de la société" ki t ap poze l kòm yon "contre pouvoir par rapport à l'état, par rapport" a enstans ofisyèl yo. 'Sosyete sivil' la se yon konsèp natirèlman filozofik ki te devlope pa anpil otè dantan lontan men nan sans ke l anplwaye an Ayiti depi 87, 88, 89 se nan sans "de la société des citoyens, la communauté des citoyens" antan ke yon ansanm òganize de sektè nan sosyete a ki pran "des positions de citoyens" ki kab fè pase pwendvi yo pa rapò a sa ke n rele "leta". Si n ta vle, yon 'sosyete sivil' se ta yon sòt de "contre pouvoir" ki la pou leta konnen ke se pa li menm sèl ki la, pou l ta garyonnen jan l vle nan savann nan. Gen w 'sosyete sivil' ki anfas li, k ap fè "des propositions"men ki ap entèvni tou lè l pa dakò avèk de bagay k ap pase pou l di li.

EV: Ou mete yon seri "òganizasyon popilè" nan kad sa a tou?

VC: M pa konnen ki sans ou di li.

EV: Pou fè leta tande revandikasyon yon seri gwoup pa ekzanp.

VC: Wi, bon se sa. Sa n rele 'òganizasyon popilè yo' se sa n rele "groupe de pression", yon lòt nosyon ki trè enpòtan Ayiti. M mete nan liv la tou, yo fè pati de 'sosyete sivil la'. Se yon seri gwoup ki pa fòseman la pou okipe yon fonksyon politik ofisyèl kòm tèl men ki la nan 'sosyete sivil la'; yo gen pwendvi yo, revandikasyon yo, yo gen fristrasyon yo, opinion yo sou yon seri kesyon enben yo fè pase li donk gwoup sa yo fè pati danble se sa yo rele 'sosyete sivil la' e mo 'sosyete sivil la', ou jwenn li an fransè e an kreyòl; tout moun ap pale se 'sosyete sivil' an kreyòl.

EV: O.K. Mèsi! VC. M ap pran yon pòz. - - Se yon bèl travay w ap fè nan kad "leksik kreyòl e fransè" alafwa, pase nou mansyone tèm 'diglosi' a kote nou pa kab pale de 'fransè' pou n ta kite 'kreyòl' dèyè, nou pa ka pale de 'kreyòl' epi pou n ta kite enfliyans 'fransè' dèyè. Kesyon m gen pou ou kounyeya se: kisa w panse de reyaksyon piblik la lè liv sa a sòti, pou y al li travay sa a, espesyalman pa tèlman gen anpil moun ki fè tip rechèch sa a? Bon, mwen kòmanse yon tip travay konsa, yon koleksyon mo tou ki pibliye nan youn nan liv mwen yo: Yon Koudèy Sou Pwoblèm Lekòl Ayiti (1994), yon travay paralèl. Mwen kontan, m wè gen moun k ap fè travay sa a. Kisa w panse de reyaksyon piblik la pa rapò a liv sa a lè l pran lari?

VC: M panse se yon travay ke moun yo ap resevwa byen, pase se yon travay de rechèch, se yon travay petèt ki pral pale de yon seri de fenomèn petèt ke anpil moun sètènman deja obsève nan sosyete a swa ke yo rezone, yo reflechi sou li oubyen yo jis konstate l; sa pa ale pi lwen men m konnen lè travay sa a soti, anpil moun pral di: "a, sa a te yon nesesite, sa a se te yon bezwen, fò te gen yon moun pou te fè travay sa a. Mwen menm, mwen trè optimis, se sa k fè tou menm lè m fatige, monchè, m travay sou li samdi, dimanch; dèfwa m travay ase ta leswa sou li paske m konnen se yon travay anpil moun ap resevwa ak anpil plezi. Fò m di tou se se yon rechèch li ye, se vre men m eseye vize m ta di w yon piblik jeneral. Donk se yon liv, byenke l ap devlope yon metodoloji kanmèm inivèsitè nou ta di men n ap gen yon metodoloji trè rigourez; an menm tan tou, se pa yon liv k ap enterese chèrchè sèlman men se pou nenpòt moun ki ta enterese a sa k ap pase "autour" de yo, ki ta enterese a fenomèn lang nan. M panse se ak anpil enterè l ap gen yon ekzanplè nan men li, l ap feyte li e l ap panse se yon sous de dekouvèt e de juisans pou li pase mwen menm pèsonèlman, m pran anpil plezi lè m ap dekouvri bagay yo, lè m ap ekri baay yo, m pran vrèman anpil plezi. Donk mwen panse ke anpil moun pral pran plezi menm jan avè mwen paske se yon travay kanmèm ki adrese l a tout moun. Se pa sèlman moun k ap fè rechèch ki enterese nan kesyon lengwistik. Donk se tout piblik la, yon ouvray pou tout piblik la ak yon metodoloji kanmèm rigourez.

(Transcribed and edited by Emmanuel W. Védrine)

Emmanuel W. Védrine
P.O.Box 255110
Dorchester, MA 02125-5110 (U.S),