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#98: Allen joins the Poincy/DeGraff discussion

From: Jeff ALLEN <jeff@elda.fr>

Degraff wrote:
>>	"Isn't it in kreyo`l that our fore-fathers managed to communicate
>>across linguistic barriers (e.g. across various West-African languages)
>>in their battles against the French.  Did they do this in "broken"
>>French?  How about those pre-1804 African descendants who mostly spoke
>>"creole"? Toussaint et al...  Was their primary language a "broken"

>From: Jean Poincy <caineve@idt.net>
>Does DeGraff
>mean that was no sufficient time for the creole they spoke to become
>pure broken French? If he meant that, that's a misjudgement from his
>part. It would definitely become a broken French because the language of
>the master dominated. It is the main characteristic of creole, many
>idioms of different languages put together "structureless" with idioms
>of the dominant language, that of the master. 
>	Allow me to go beyond our discussion here to correct DeGraff's logic.
>All the slaves had to make efforts to speak the language of the master,
>it was not the reverse. Because the lanugage of the master was more
>common on the plantations than every other tribal language of the
>slaves, it is evident that the bits and pieces each slave was picking up
>from French would make their communication easier when gathering. Most
>of the slaves on a same plantation spoke different languages and the one
>in common they know more (forcefully) was that of the master, 

The concept of the group of slaves learning the language of the white
master (thus producing a broken French or English depending on the island)
is a traditional view about creole language situations.  Quite a few
socio-historic studies in the field of Creolistics over the past 5 years
(Baker 1991, Baker 1992, Baker 1993, Chaudenson 1992), as well as several
presentations at the 9th International Etudes Creoles conference last week
in Aix-en-Provence France, have shown that it wasn't necessary the language
of the masters that the bossal slaves (new arrivals) learned.  Some studies
have shown for creation of the Creoles of some Caribbean islands, and those
of the Indian Ocean, that the newly recruited slaves picked up the spoken
language variety of communication from the experienced slaves, and not
necessarily from the head masters.  This is to say, that the slaves were
not necessarily trying to approximate French (or some Breton patois form of
it because we also need to remember that the homesteaders were not
necessarily the eloquent standard French speakers of the 17th and 18th
centuries), but rather that they were in many cases trying to approximate
an already variable form of French that made it possible for the slaves of
different language origins to communicate.  In many cases, it is possible
to find details in the British and French National Archives  about what
homestead and what plantation had how many slaves, coming from which boat
(which itself provides information about the regions from which the slaves
were taken), etc.  Others have done research on the language learning
factors of these French creoles language during the infancy of the
language.   Much of this type of research has demonstrated that the Creole
of today is actually not so far from French as one believes, or rather I
should say not far from modern spoken French.   Just go to the sites for
Etudes Creoles, the Institute d'Etudes Creoles,and the Journal of Pidgin
and Creole Languages (all available via http://www.ling.su.se/Creole/) to
find titles and abstracts of articles on these and other related topics.



Jeff ALLEN - Technical Manager/Directeur Technique
European Language Resources Association (ELRA)  &
European Language resources - Distribution Agency (ELDA) 
(Agence Europe'enne de Distribution des Ressources Linguistiques)
55, rue Brillat-Savarin
75013   Paris   FRANCE
Tel: (+33) - Fax: (+33)