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#3956: Poincy replies to Mason

From: Jean Poincy <caineve@idt.net>

Of course I know that Mason did not introduce any new item in this
particular discussion, and no one has apart from ruminating information
that can be found elsewhere without adding. But it was just from my part
to acknowledge the reminder of the info which others (maybe) were
unaware of, myself I was not aware of it and don't have any recollection
of it. Providing answers or old info I said is considered as progress in
the debate since linguists on the list for the entire period keep
brushing aside the question, without attempting to answer it. However,
nothing makes such answers valid. However, they add fuel to the debate.
In fact Jeff Allen's technical explanation did nothing but bring the
issue at a boiling point. This situation can definitely hamstring the
production of some software. 

Before I go into Allen's statement, let me understand Mason's real
position here.

Mason  says:

"I did not really add anything new to the debate; I only reminded us all
of the fact that we've been down this road before."

Therefore there is no point to go there again as some answers right or
wrong are provided as long as they are explained. 


"And in a circuitous manner, (Mason) remind us all of the fact that as
long as we keep going around in these same circles, we will be hamstrung
from producing the very software programs we all wish existed to
magically solve such dilemmas in our everyday lives as readers and
writers of Haitian Creole and other such vernacular languages."

Then for the sake of producing the "very software programs", we should
just shut up and not raise an issue that was ill answered. Since Mason
is no linguist and is a proponent of some software production, it does
not matter much to her (I assume) that all questions are answered.

Or as long as it becomes law to say one thing and not the other, or as
long Yves Dejean "allows" it to be so, we should just stand by and be a
"YES SIR" when we have legit objections to which no one is willing to go
forward and express truly their views for fear of being ostracized by
the icons or not a receiving a tap in the back. Have we been paid
attention to Mason's choice of words here? 

"Not only does the Orthography Law of 1979-80 allow for such variation,
Dr. Yves Dejean allows for such variation in:"

Then let's swallow it and say nothing so the software can be produced.
How ethical is that? I am wondering. Folks, be the judge and allow me to
go on with Jeff Allen's explanation which is more worthy to comment on.

Per Mason this is Jeff Allen's explanation:

"The aigu accented e wasn't dropped in Kreyol because of oral vowels. 
Haitian Kreyol does in fact have several oral and nasal e vowels:

e = [e] = front, mid-closed oral vowel
è (or è) = [E] = front, mid-open oral vowel
en = [e~] = front, mid nasal vowel

What Allen refers to in the first line is the very phonetic symbol to
produce the "é" sound. The same [e] is found in French, English and
Spanish to produce the same sound. The phonetic table of these languages
has this symbol [e] to indicate the "é" sound wherever it is found in a
word. According to Allen, "accented e wasn't dropped in Kreyòl?" 

Based on this logic, in deciding what Ayitian standard is to be, the
linguists keep the same phonetic symbol to not only produce the sound
but also to be the correct written representation of the sound. 

He justifies his statement: "?because of oral vowels."  

Obviously, the linguists' debate over the issue was whether to conserve
"é" or drop it altogether. Due to the existence of two oral vowels in
Ayitian, they come to the conclusion that "é" can be written off and
adopt the phonetic symbol instead to produce the "é" sound. That's very
Looking further in Allen's second line: "è" with its phonetic symbol [ e
] (Allen made [ E ]) (also in French and English) was not touched at
all. Recognized as an oral vowel, "è" was not dropped neither, but I
wonder why then the phonetic symbol was not chosen, as it was the case
for "e". Folks you can guess the answer yourselves now, later we will
see the justification for it.

If for the French and English languages the sound is not represented
orthographically by its very symbol, for Ayitian it is different. What a
revolution with the Ayitian language! In French the written form "é" of
the sound is made different from its phonetic symbol "e", so is "è" from
its phonetic symbol [ e ]. The same goes in English. But in Spanish the
symbol is the same with its written representation. From this confusing
logic, am I to understand that Ayitian is like Spanish? Again my
question remains why if the Ayitian language is so dependent both
phonetically and orthographically on the French language, is deviated
from the French for no logical reason. (I don't mean that it should not
however. I am just questioning why this and why that). 

It would not be so striking if the evolution of the language were traced
back to its roots. I don't mean by that that the language (like most of
you on the list seem to believe) ought to have a Frenchlike orthography,
but I just need that some rationale be provided to conduct a healthy
evolution/transformation of the language; so we won't accept whatever is
dumped on us because Dejean allows it or so and so says so. 

Once the rationale is provided, I'll be too happy to accept the
conclusion.  Or else, if there is none or if there is and it is
political one, just say so. For I am more inclined to accept Allen's
second part of his point here:

SECOND PART "?followed then (sometimes more importantly) by political
and sociolinguistic motivating factors."

However, the first part of his point,

FIRST PART "The reason for choosing to include or dismiss the use of
accent marks (diacritics) in an orthograpic spelling system is first
based on phonemic distinctions?"

does not seem to convincing in showing a distinction at all by using the
phonetic symbol to make a written form of the phonetic symbol itself.
Not that it should not be done, but it does not justify the absence of
the closed "e" sound in Ayitian.

Jeff Allen goes further to show that the absence of the close "e" sound
in Ayitian and dropping the accent aigu "é" while the accent grave "è"
is kept. Accordingly, a distinction is necessary in French. Implicitly
he says that only two oral vowels exist in Ayitian:

"For example, it is necessary in French to have both the Aigu and the
Grave accent marks because there are 3 oral e vowels in French: 

French oral vowels per Allen:

é (or é) = [e] = front, mid-closed oral vowel
è (or è) = [E] = front, mid-open oral vowel
e = front, mid-closed rounded oral vowel (as in the vowel of the word
or the e between rn and m in the word "gouvernement")

Ayitian oral vowels per Allen:

e = [e] = front, mid-closed oral vowel
è (or è) = [E] = front, mid-open oral vowel "

What Allen does not say is that e = [e] = front, mid-closed oral vowel
in Ayitian is the phonetic symbol [e], graphically represents itself.
Whereas in French it is different é (or é) = [e] = front, mid-closed
oral vowel. He gives the same description for both: "front, mid-closed
oral vowel." Logically, if phonetically they are the same, why don't
they have the same graphic representation? 

That decision must be frivolous and makes no technical sense; Allen's
saying proves so as he continues:
"The 3-way distinction for oral vowels in French makes it necessary to
use two different accent marks plus the non-accented form, in order to
allow for the phonetic and phonemic distinctions to be represented in an
orthographic way.

In Haitian Creole, as in many French Creoles, there are only 2 phonetic
forms, so using 2 different accent marks to make a 2-way distinction for
oral vowels is overkill.  Only 1 accent mark is really necessary for a
2-way distinction. " 

Doesn't that insinuate an accommodation to those unable to distinguish
the "é" and "è" plus their difficulty to reproduce the "e" French (e =
front, mid-closed rounded oral vowel) while totally dismissing the fact
that education is the problem? I just wish that Allen, if available,
elaborated on what "OVERKILL" means. Would it be too harsh on the
commoners' to learn how to distinguish the two or else? Rather than
going through the whole nine yards to say the sound does not exist in
Ayitian (because the commoners have difficulty to reproduce it), say
that keeping the phonetic symbol and the graphic representation, as one
and the same item is the rationale. Then I'll have no argument, but I
will always have the following concern.

Let's look at Allen's third line of the French oral vowels list. The
phonetic symbol of the letter "e" , I referred to as a closed "e" is
called mute "e" or silent "e" in French. It is represented phonetically
by writing the symbol [ e ]upside-down then flip it side ways to the
left. We have the same phonetic symbol in English to represent the "
front, mid-closed rounded oral vowel " as Allen puts it, closed "e" as I
simplistically put it or silent "e" as it is called in French. 

Considering how deeply rooted is the Ayitian language in French, it is
odd to simply say that such a sound does not exist in the Ayitian
language when being taught properly to the native is correctly produced
with no accent whatsoever, just like it would be produced in French?

What Mason thought of a powerful argument to end the discussion for the
sake of producing some software, brings it to a boiling point, unless
others no longer have the stamina to find new arguments, since it is the
case when logic is involved in Corbettland. However, I am thankful for
reintroducing Jeff Allen's argument that I missed, as I was unable to
access my mails at that time and probably did not have the time to read
everything when I could. 

So far no linguist has ever come to elucidate the matter. Jeff Allen's
explanation that Mason reproduce is far from doing so as it strengthens
my earlier point of Ayitian's dependence phonetically and
orthographically on French, the lack of rationale for the choice of "e"
over "é", the unfounded argument that the sound of "e" does not exist in
Ayitian and the linguists' persistence to ignore that education is the
problem as showed in my reply to Délimon. So far the political rationale
is more acceptable than any other explanation that linguists want to

Ayiti has lived, lives and will live