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#180: Creole discussion: Lucien comments
From: Charlot J Lucien <email@example.com>
Some thirteen years ago, teaching Creole writing to a group of extremely
reluctant students, I used it as an ice breaker to share with them some
anecdotal information about the origins of a few popular and not so
popular Creole terms. Did I perpetuated some non-scientific concepts -I
never took the time to search or establish the validity of my
information? This question comes to my mind as I review this highly
interesting debate about "broken French", "standard Creole" etc. Here
are some of the examples for linguists to chew on. The problem is I
can't even remember where and how I get them. I hope that linguists on
our list will be able to assess the validity of some of those anecdotes.
I apologize if I am coming that late in the discussion and hope that I am
not bringing things that have been extensively debated previously.
The infamous "kolan get manman w" (f... your m...); the most "insulting
Rape being common in the colony, the worst thing that a slave
could hear at that time was "the colon is
watching/stalking your mother" ("Le colon guette ta maman" in French).
That was a sure indication that the mother was about to
be raped, enough to send the slave in a state of
Kleren: Although the French word "clairin" refer to an alcoholic
beverage. French drinking this alcoholic beverage extracted from
sugar cane would comment "C'est clair, hein?" (it is clear, isn't it?)
and this may have lead to the slaves referring to this
beverage as "kleren". But then, was this “broken Creole”
exported to France to become “standard French”?
Tchanpan:The French cook distributing an infect (maybe infected too) meal
to the slaves lined up under the sun, would hand the plate to
each slave with a swift nasal "Tiens, prends" (Come on, take this).
The slaves apparently picked up the nasal "tiens prends", assimilated it
to any low quality meal, and the Creole "Tchanpan" remained in
our vocabulary to refer to any meal, food that anybody
"ki konn gou djol li" (who has good taste) would stay away from: junk
food, expired food...
I want to make sure that it is clear that these examples have nothing to
do with other words whose origins have been clearly established to be of
"African or Latino or Indian descent".
These specific cases refer to the issue of broken French, and there there
are other examples, it will be interesting to share them.
Anyway, with three examples, it is hard to make a case for broken Vs non
broken French. But if there is some true to this, it will be a
fascinating exercise to track down the origin of some other words in our
lexicon, both for linguistic and historical purposes. Meanwhile,
messieurs les linguistes,...the floor is yours.
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