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#256: Creole words from English: Valdman comments

From: Albert Valdman <valdman@taloa.unice.fr>

About etymology.

In doing etymology, one has to avoid jumping at the apparent obvious (as
Voltaire said and as the gallons of ink spilled in a variety of fanciful
theories for the origin of O.K.  Turns out that the most probable one is
West African, an expression in several West African languages that is
phonologically close to [okey] and means more or less "fine".)  As for the
putative English origin of these words,  all of them are suspicious, and
the first downright wrong: canif is a good ole'
 everyday French words that means "pocketknife".  Between  [kanif]  and
[nayf] the former wins hands down.

We lexicographers haven't tackled an etymological dictionary  for HC, quite
a laborious endeavor requiring a lot of comparative work.  Annegret Bollée
of the University of Bamberg  has, after nearly 20 years of  solid,
German-style  research produced an etymological dictionary for Indian Ocean
French creoles, and she had at her disposal Robert Chaudenson's superb
doctoral d'état dissertation on Reunion Creole.  We in the Carribean must
start from scratch.  In the meantime, we'll focus on a solid inventory of
present-day HC.

Albert Valdman
Creole Institute