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#3602: This debate on HC orthography (fwd)




From: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>


A little humility, please!

Kathy Grey keeps defending the spelling of her signature: "Bon Mambo
Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen".  The fact of the matter is that she
can call herself whatever she wants, and none of us will ever be able to
change that.  However, becoming a Vodou priestess does not make one a
Haitian Creole expert, and I feel 100% certain that in the matter of
Haitian Creole linguistics, NOT VODOU, Michel DeGraff is by far a more
trustworthy source.  Besides Kathy Grey herself, who would want to
dispute that?

I do accept Kathy's explanation that her initiator wanted her to spell
one part of her name in French rather than in standard Haitian Creole
orthography, hence 'Mambo Racine Sans Bout', and I'd be perfectly
willing to leave it at that.  I can't help but wonder though whether
this does not betray a certain complex of inferiority on the part of
Kathy's initiator.  Why would anyone insist on the French spelling in a
phrase that is purported to be "Kreyol" (HC) ?  Many Haitians would have
trouble deciphering 'Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen', but I
wonder how many monolingual French speakers would have any chance to
make any sense of it at all?

I say this because I believe that a while ago Kathy explained that her
initiator intended her to spread her knowledge of Vodou
internationally...  hence the French spelling.  Why this attitude of
obsequiousness with respect to French speaking foreigners?  The
half-French half-non-standard-Haitian-Creole title is not likely to help
in any case, unless there are some supernatural powers attached to it,
in which case I withdraw all of my argumentation because I would then be
the proverbial fish out of water.  If the name "Bon Mambo Racine Sans
Bout Sa Te La Daginen" is a SACRED name, not to be messed with, then so
be it ! !  But since Kathy herself gave a rather profane explanation for
it, then she should perhaps take into account that her explanation
leaves much to be desired, not only in terms of the linguistics, but
equally in terms of its socio-psychological undercurrent.  It's almost
like saying: let's dress it up in French, because our "Krey˛l" is not
good enough.

It is not my intention to insult or disrespect ANYONE, let's make this
perfectly clear.  It is likely that Kathy will come after me with guns
blazing, but I truly believe that we do not grow as human beings if we
NEVER accept constructive criticism, or if we NEVER accept being wrong
at times.  So I will sincerely offer this: if I am wrong in my logic or
assertions, I will upon due consideration of the opposite argumentation
admit to all that I was wrong.  I will not engage in the futile habit of
sending notes to the list asserting "I am the one who is right",
regardless of the evidence or argumentation to the contrary offered by
others.  Doing so borders on the sort of arrogance that we all like to
decry in others.

There is a lively Haitian Creole Forum on Windows on Haiti, and I invite
all with a deep respect of "Kreyol" to participate.  The url is:
http://windowsonhaiti.com/forum.html .  Equally relevant are two short
documents that describe fairly well the current standardization of
Haitian Creole orthography:

1) http://www.kreyol.org/ekri-kreyol.htm
(Ekri Kreyol Fasil - Write "Kreyol" Easily)

2) http://www.kreyol.org/otograf-kreyol.htm
(Otograf OfisyŔl Lang Krey˛l - Official Orthography of the "Krey˛l"
Language)

Unlike DeGraff, I am not a linguist.  I am willing to defer to him,
because I am a native speaker of Krey˛l, and DeGraff has not stated
anything contrary to my own experience of the language, whether written
or spoken.

Unlike Grey, I am not a Vodouisant, and nothing that I have written
above should be interpreted as an attack on a religion that I do not
adhere to, but that I have consistently defended on a cultural and
historical basis, to the best of my (limited) ability.

Guy S. Antoine
http://windowsonhaiti.com