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#531: Help in Creole: Antoine comments




From: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>

From: steven white <stevelong@spyral.net>

> Does the orthography allow for words to be spelled differently
> by people who pronounce them differently?

That's an interesting issue, indeed.  I would like to know whether
there is a universal linguistic resolution to that dilemma.  All Haitians
speak Kreyl for sure, and though the last thing on my mind is to try
to interject a class debate here, it is a fact that the man from the city,
or the man from a middle or upper middle class will pronounce
Kreyl words differently from most Haitians in the peasant class.
For instance, to say "I like grenadine juice", one might say
(phonetically): "M renmen ju grenadin" (with French sounding vowels
u in ju and e in grenadin) whereas another will say: "M renmen ji
grenadin" with the currently sanctioned i and e of Haitian Creole
orthography.  Another example, among too many to count, would
be "Jezi Kri" versus "Jezu Kri" (Jesus Christ).

I have raised that question before, and I was told by some Kreyl
linguists that for the purpose of an official orthography, as in
English or French, regional (or other sort of) differences must be
ignored in favor of the way the majority of people speak the
language.  I am more than willing to accept this answer, especially
in view of the fact that as Kreyl is coming of its own socially, as
a full-fledged language rather than continuing to be viewed as
"broken French", "French derived dialect, patois, or worse",
it needs to assert its individuality and even a high degree of
autonomy from other languages, especially French.  However,
in the back of my mind, the suspicion of political correctness
also arises in the sense that by a stroke of the pen (not according
any recognition whatsoever to the French sounding e and u in
Haitian Creole), we are in effect obliterating a certain reality,
that is the way a substantial number of Haitians (admittedly
a very small minority in the totality of Haiti) speak today.

On a practical level, if I want to faithfully report the words of
CityPerson X or FrenchSpeakingMan Y or ClassMindfulWoman
Y or just OrdinaryBloke Z who say: "Jezu, fm jwenn yon ti ju
grenadin jodi a", how am I linguistically, politically, socially,
obligated to translate what he actually said to: "Jezi, fm
jwenn youn ti ji grenadin jodi a" ?

How will the experts respond to such concerns?