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  • Writer's pictureKamille D. Whittaker

Excerpts on Language

Grace, Apparent

"Anytime people of different languages are trying to communicate, they'll create a Lingua Franca, or Pigeon language. Now, when a generation comes that speaks that language as its first language, then it's a Creole. So there's a blending -- in the case of Atlantic Creoles -- a blending of the grammatical structure of a West African language system with the lexicon of a European language system and it is the grammar that is the most important part. The grammar is what determines a person's cognition; their mental makeup. This is why when you blend the grammar with the lexicon, you'll have this combined language, of sorts, but you'll still have an African worldview."

"... West African languages have no verb "to be" ... because in that worldview there's no need to state … 'I am, you are, he/she it is' -- it's a given. Your presence is a given, your being is a given. It doesn't have to be stated, because it's already apparent ... because you're right there looking at me."

-- Deborah G. Plant Editor of "Barracoon" by Zora Neale Hurston

Just outside of Mobile, Alabama, sits the small community of Africatown, a town established by the last known slaves brought to America, illegally, in 1860. Decades after that last slave ship, The Clotilde, burned in the waters outside Mobile, Africatown residents are pushing back against the forces of industrial destruction and national amnesia. Local struggles over environmental justice, land ownership, and development could determine whether Africatown becomes an historical destination.


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