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#318: Misquote of Y. Dejean in J. Allen's message: Allen replies to Degraff (fwd)

From: Jeff ALLEN <jeff@elda.fr>

Hello Corbettlanders:

Michel, I totally agree with you about the quote of Yves Dejean being
more than just weird.  I in no way wanted to denigrate Dejean, but show
that if such a quote by Vedrine was originally by Dejean, this clearly 
contradicts what I have been reading in Dejean's works for 
several years.  Let me start back with Vedrine's message:

I'm snipping out text that is not related to this discussion.

>Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 08:03:02 -0700 (PDT)
>Subject: #572:  Vedrine replies to Allen (HC orthography)(fwd)
>To: Haiti mailing list <haiti@lists.webster.edu>
>From: Emmanuel W. Vedrine <evedrine@hotmail.com>
>that can convert any old orthography to the programmed one) and if you read 
>"CreoList" (http://www.ling.su.se/Creole/) few weeks ago, I posted a Kreyol 
>article by Yves Dejean where he clarifies some important points concerning 
>the Kreyol orthography.

As I pointed out before, the CreoList posting are in fact not at that site,
but I am subscribed to that list and collected all of the CreoList 
messages on my computer for the past year (808 messages to date 
in that directory). It is important to note that the reference to the article
by Yves Dejean is not clearly indicated, which is always a problem
when trying to determine what was said by whom.
So, I checked all the CreoList postings several weeks previous to 
Vedrine's reply to me and found the following message that 
corresponded to his statement about the timeframe
of "several weeks" in the message above.

>Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 14:01:50 +0200
>From: CreoLIST <CreoLIST@ling.su.se>
>To: CreoLIST <CreoLIST@ling.su.se>
>Reply-To: CreoLIST@ling.su.se
>Subject: on HC orthography
>*************   CreoLIST posting   **************
>Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1999 16:45:38 PDT
>From: "Emmanuel W. Vedrine" <evedrine@hotmail.com>
>Subject: on HC orthography

in which Vedrine stated:

>Note to readers: This article below (on 'Haitian Creole' and
>'normalization') is same as the former one posted ("Sou wout
>nmalizasyon an"). The little difference lies in its complete review.

As I understood, this means that there is another "previous" message 
(or even possibly the same day as we often know that e-mail servers
do have slight gliches at times) that treats this issue.  Also, it is stated
that there is a difference between the two in that one is more complete 
than the other.  The notion of "complete review" is something that is a bit 
ambiguous here.

In that posting there is discussion on:

discussion about words, some vowels, etc.

and of course the famous statement that I totally disagree with:

>Chenjanbe (n) - Pou yon moun ki fk ap ekri kreyl, li gen pou l f
>fas ak kesyon "mfoloji" a. Si malchans (pou li) li jwenn yon
>enstrikt ki pale kreyl km natif-natal men ki pa konn "ga" [je a ga]
>nan rg lang nan, svl li pral bwouye epi l ka di "ala lang konplike
>pou ekri!". Pa kw sa! Kreyl se yon lang 100% fonetik (sa w tande, se
>sa w ap ekri). Se pa yon lang kouw dotyen lang kote ou tande yon son
>epi w ekri l yon lt jan.

so then I started digging for the corresponding "previous" message 
referred to, that was also supposed to have been posted to
the CreoList:

CreoLIST	14:57 10/08/99 +0200	17	On "HC Grammar"

13 days earlier, but no this doesn't correspond. It was definitely 
written by Vedrine and about grammar.

I could find nothing in my CreoList directory with the title:

Sou wout nmalizasyon an

The only message anywhere in the vicinity among previous 
messages, and of messages posted the same day, is:

>Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 14:03:27 +0200
>From: CreoLIST <CreoLIST@ling.su.se>
>Subject: Yves Dejean on the "HC orthography"
>*************   CreoLIST posting   **************
>Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1999 07:43:59 PDT
>From: "Emmanuel W. Vedrine" <evedrine@hotmail.com>
>Subject: Yves Dejean on the "HC orthography"

The title corresponds very closely "On HC Orthography" and
"Yves Dejean on the 'HC orthograph' ".
There is quite a bit of discussion about vowels and consonants
and orthography in the second message.

And so, I took it that Vedrine had posted two messages on the same
day and that he was citing from Dejean in both of them.  I would like to
say that this is a dangerous assumption, but please remember that
Vedrine's statement about one message being a more 
"complete review" of a previous other one, the corresponding titles, etc
was quite an ambiguous situation.

So Michel's recent posting on the Haiti Mailing List:

At 09:36 08/10/99 -0700, Michel DeGraff <degraff@MIT.EDU>
>In his lastest message, Jeff Allen may have mistakenly attributed the
>following quote to Yves Dejean:
>As far as I can tell, Yves Dejean did NOT write this, and could NOT have
>written this. Dejean, like most linguists, does know that the statement
>"Kreyo`l se yon lang 100% fonetik" is either redundant (if referring to
>speech) or non-sensical (if referring to orthography). 


> In any
>case, as Allen correctly points out, Dejean's thesis shows that the "100%
>fonetik" statement (vis-a-vis spelling) is bogus.  


> As far as I can
>gather from Vedrine's original message, the author of this passage may
>be Vedrine himself --- but Vedrine can surely clarify this further. 


>Yves Dejean, unlike many other creolists, is not given to empirically- or
>theoretically-incoherent claims, and specially nothing like the flagrant
>contradiction that Jeff Allen alleges in his latest message.  


>So I am
>disturbed by the implications in Allen's message that Dejean, one of our
>best creolists, would be given to such oxymorons as the `100% phonetic
>orthography' claim.

got me thinking and digging even deeper again because maybe I 
had misquoted Dejean and Vedrine, and I wanted to make sure of 
that.  We all know that even on this mailing list, there is often the 
risk of misquoting people because when you hit the Reply button
it says "on X date you wrote" and then people copy that into a
reply and it end up being a guess as to who really said what. I
try to be very careful when referencing quotes in order to state
each time who made what statement, on what date, and often 
the Subject line too.  This avoids the misquotes, and subsequent

I very much agree with Michel in his statement below:

>Of course,
>all of us (including Dejean) are fallible and make mistakes, specially when
>it comes to fitting our data in intricate theoretical schemes. But Dejean
>would not contradict himself so casually, 

and I've never even met Dejean.  But I can tell from his writings that 
he has thought much about what he has to say, and I often cite his
thesis and other writings in my own works about Haitian Creole.

So, I went digging a 2nd time in the archives tonight, and I again 
found no previous message corresponding to the one where 
Vedrine says that the one of Aug 23 is a complete review,
or vice versa.  All I could find again was the one 
"Yves Dejean on 'HC orthography' ".   

So I did some additional searching. Rather than search on the date, 
I did so on the topic, and here is what I found:

>Date: Mon, 30 Aug 1999 15:05:10 +0200
>From: CreoLIST <CreoLIST@ling.su.se>
>Subject: Standardization & Lexicon (HC)
>*************   CreoLIST posting   **************
>Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 23:02:44 PDT
>From: "Emmanuel W. Vedrine" <evedrine@hotmail.com>
>Subject: Standardization & Lexicon (HC)

It is very important to note that this message I discovered 
was in fact posted a full week "after" the other message, 
and definitely not "previously".  

In this other message, I found brief examples of:

>ekz. "chen janbe" vs. "chenjanbe"
>a) Chen janbe bak fritay la.
>b) Ou vle al achte yon ti chenjanbe ltb lari a pou mwen?

and the more recent message was in fact signed by Vedrine 
at the bottom.

So Michel's recent remark:

>  Thus, my clarification of what must be an honest
>mistake --- unless there's a "100% fonetik" article by Dejean that I am
>unaware of, which (I guess) is possible, but I a priori seriously doubt it.

is very much true.  It was an honest mistake on my part in stating
that Dejean had made the statement about Kreyol being a 100%
phonetic alphabet.

Then I went back to Vedrine's message:
CreoLIST	14:01 23/08/99 +0200	9	on HC orthography

and discovered that he had signed it at the very top, but not at 
bottom, as usual.

Due to the overlapping of messages on the same day, the
mention of a previous message that really did not exist but was
easily confounded with another message posted the same day with
a similar title and the name of Yves Dejean in the title, 
and that I was trying to put the puzzle together on my end in 
undering where Vedrine was taking his
quotes from, I made an assumption that his statements in X  
message were related to statements in Y message, but that 
really they were referring to Z that was said to have 
appeared previously, but actually appeared a week later.

So, I hereby publicly retract my statement that Yves Dejean 
made a statement that Kreyol is 100% phonetic.  
His PhD thesis was quite clear about this
as Michel and I have already pointed out.  It certainly
didn't make any sense to me either, but then the information
that I was receiving was confusing as explained above.

This in fact does remind us that it is essential to clearly 
reference quotes and citations of e-mail postings 
with the sender/poster, the date, and even the
subject header in order to avoid such confusion.
This also teaches me to be even more careful about
assuming that statements are true (such as: 
"in a previous message") when the opposite is actually
true (the message appeared one week later on the list)
and to double- and triple-check all information that is 
conveyed in messages.  

I would be more than willingto write Yves Dejean a letter of 
apology, along with copies of all of
these messages, stating that I had misquoted him for the
reasons explained in this message, and that I wish to 
apologize for that.  His statements made 20+ years ago 
are still very true today (as I have said many times before
in this entire thread on the topic of orthography/phonetics/
phonology/etc, and his statements will certainly be 
valid 20+ years from now.  If Michel or someone else thinks that
this is appropriate, please send me postal or fax contact information
for him.

As I have stated several times in messages over the past
few months on this list, if any of my statements are incorrect,
I very much want feedback.  Thank you for your valuable 
input Michel, for taking the time to respond, and for
confirming what I also thought was very odd for Yves
Dejean to have stated.

And Yves Dejean still remains one of the most respected
Haitian Kreyol linguists to this day.  I hope one day to have
the opportunity to meet him.  And in that event, it would be 
wonderful to discuss with him the many issues pertaining 
to Kreyol linguistics and what can effectively be done
for the language and the people.



Jeff ALLEN - Technical Manager/Directeur Technique
European Language Resources Association (ELRA)  &
European Language resources - Distribution Agency (ELDA) 
(Agence Europe'enne de Distribution des Ressources Linguistiques)
55, rue Brillat-Savarin
75013   Paris   FRANCE
Tel: (+33) - Fax: (+33)