Third-year PhD student Joy Peltier gave a talk at the 2019 Dominica Country Conference on August 15 in Roseau, Dominica. The event was centered on the theme “Creole as Cultural Heritage: Framing, Strengthening and Advocating” and took place at Roseau’s University of the West Indies Open Campus.
The conference featured presentations and public forums aimed at promoting the preservation of Dominica’s creole heritage through language documentation, educational policies, tourism, and the safeguarding of the island’s artistic traditions.
Peltier’s talk, titled “Documentation, Preservation, and Scientific Exploration of Creole Languages: Insights from Kwéyòl Donmnik Fieldwork,” explored the contributions of modern linguists to the study and promotion of Creole languages and highlighted her own fieldwork with Kwéyòl Donmnik speakers in London, UK, in the summer of 2018.
During her time in Dominica, Peltier met with noted Dominícan anthropologist and historian Lennox Honychurch (shown in the photo above), as well as many of her own family members who still reside on the island.
Homepage photo: Joy Peltier receives a certificate of thanks at the Dominica Country Conference.
Documentation, Preservation, and Scientific Exploration of Creole Languages:
Insights from Kwéyòl Donmnik Fieldwork
To explore how language functions in the mind and in society, linguists recognize all
languages as equally valuable knowledge sources. More trained linguists are embracing our
Creole heritages and integrating creoles into our research, and, as evidenced by efforts like this
conference, more communities are reacting against anti-creole attitudes. Community-based
activism confirms the status of creoles as vibrant languages and cultural vessels worthy of
respect and study. Still, many creoles, including Kwéyòl Donmnik (KD), remain understudied
while research on languages like English and French has expanded beyond documentation into
investigating how these languages are cognitively processed.
This is a trend I am actively contributing to changing through fieldwork by combining
documentation with innovative experimental methodologies. Due to the aftermath of Hurricane
Maria, I conducted my 2018 fieldwork in a KD-speaking community in London, UK. The
resulting collection of audio-visual recordings features speakers and learners of KD conversing,
storytelling, and participating in linguistic experiments. My work there, supported by the
Dominica Overseas Nationals Association, encouraged speakers to engage with the language and share their sociolinguistic experiences. Striving to raise awareness of KD within the academic community as well, I have presented at conferences hosted by the Linguistic Society of America and the Society of Pidgin and Creole Linguistics. If accepted to participate in Creole as Cultural Heritage, I will present my findings to a broader audience, forge connections with other scholars, and share my plans to conduct similar work in Dominica, both with KD speakers and within the Kalinago community.