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#4081: RE: word segmentation in Creole (fwd)

From: J Barnes <jbarnes@massed.net>

In Degraff's post #4059 he comments that non-native speakers of Creole may
have difficulties in figuring out where one word ends and another begins.
I'd like to add that the skill of word segmentation does not naturally
occur.  Rather, it develops as one learns to read or starts thinking about
the language (metalinguistic awareness).  In developed countries where
everyone goes to school it is assumed that it is a natural development
around the age of seven, while in fact the development of meta-linguistic
awareness may not occur if a child does not learn to read.  Several years
ago I tried to elicit word segmentation in Creole among Haitian adults who
were enrolled in a literacy class.  When asked to count words in a sentence
they counted syllables. For example for "M ap travay" they would say: "3 mo:
map tra vay".  This is only anecdotal evidence  collected for a term paper
but I have since encountered many Haitian adults who speak Creole and are
literate in other languages who have poor awareness of word segmentation in
Creole.  They may not have had the same errors as the non-literate adults;
for example they may know that "travay" should be one word, but they have a
very hard time with the most common words like pronouns, and may be totally
unaware of them in the abbreviated forms.  They would not know that in the
"M ap travay" sequence "M" and "ap" are 2 words.