The Way I See It

By:Curtis Morton

The way I see it, measures need to be put in place for the general population of Nevis, to learn at least one other language.

I have been observing that persons from other countries, who make Nevis their permanent or temporary home, tend to learn to speak our language (the English language) but we on the hand, never seem so inclined to learn their languages.

Funny enough, I have been asked time and again by visitors to our shores, what is the other language that we speak. They had heard some of the locals speak another ‘language’ that they could not understand. Only to discover that they were really making reference to our absolute murdering of the Queen’s English. Like “Ley arbe gu dung dey!’

Dear reader, if you are not from Nevis, the simple interpretation of that is: ‘Let us go down there!’

I admire the Chinese who live here. Some of the children have gone through our Primary School system, especially at the Maude Cross Preparatory school; have done fairly well in their test of standards examinations; gone on to the Charlestown Secondary school and in recent times, I have seen some of them in the sixth form uniform.

That tells me that even though they grew up in a family setting where Chinese was the primary language that they made deliberate and concerted efforts, to learn and master the English language— sufficient to the point that they can speak it; understand and interpret well enough to take and pass examinations written in English.

Well I newa!

That is a tremendous feat in itself.

Then we have the members of the Spanish community. Honestly, sometimes when I hear them conversing, their tone of voice suggests that they are having some sort of an argument, but on the contrary, they are chatting and laughing.

They may be saying: ‘Look at that old idiot there’ and I would not have a clue that I was the target of a derogatory remark.

I remember in my days at the Charlestown Secondary school, we had the option to choose subjects such as French and Spanish, against Physics and Chemistry.

I even remember the accomplishments of Peach Dore (by the way condolences to her on losing her mom), when after having started French in her early years at CSS, changed to Physics in her year at fourth form and not only passed the nigh impossible subject, within a one year frame work, but totally aced it!

I also remember being on a bus with a number of passengers who included two St. Lucians.

They spoke to each other in English for a time and then when they did not want their fellow passengers to understand, they shifted gears and continued their conversation in Patois.

How do I know it was Patois?—Well, simply put: I studied in St. Lucia for just over two years and learnt a few words too.

So when they were finished talking, I simply said:

‘Mue meme Garcon!’

Now honestly I did not have a clue what they were saying, as they spoke so quickly. However, I only said it to scare them into thinking that I did and it worked.

One of them tried really hard to find out how much of the language I knew and if I understood what they were saying, but I kept it close and dark.

So maybe we can start some of these languages at the Primary school level. Not the Patois thing but certainly, the French and the Spanish and for good measure, maybe even a little Chinese can be thrown into the mix too.

Note also that when some of our students access scholarships to study in foreign lands, part of the course of study, is an indoctrination into the local language of the land.

In Cuba, I think they have to learn basic Spanish within that first critical year and when they study in the republic of China (Taiwan), they have to learn Mandarin, as part of their course of study.

I believe that the Nevis Academy has such a program in place with at least Spanish in the spotlight.

Learning a few more languages will truly make for real, the ability to ‘speak in tongues’, when people can speak and be understood, even if a gifted interpreter has to be utilized in the process. Not the blatant gibberish that is promulgated in certain quarters

With advanced technology; a growing economy and the constant travel and interchanging of cultures and people, maybe, just maybe, it is fulltime that we get on board with the program.

That’s the way I see it. How do you see it?

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