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#3624: DeGraff on facts vs. myths and on (il)logic re orthographic choice (fwd)

From: Michel DeGraff <degraff@MIT.EDU>

Let's apply a bit of logic to the latest exchange between Guy Antoine and
Kathy Grey regarding the tendency to mix (pseudo-)French spelling with
(pseudo-)Creole spelling (as in "Bon Houngan [sic] Jambe [sic] Malheur

Antoine wrote:

> <<Why this attitude of obsequiousness with respect to French speaking 
> foreigners?>>

Grey replied;

> Luc Gedeon knew that more people speak French than speak Haitian Creole.  
> That is all the reason there was, pure and simple. 

OK.  Let's push this "pure and simple" reasoning to its logical conclusion:

In Haiti, there are certainly many more people speaking Haitian Creole than
French.  In fact, Creole is spoken as a mother tongue by ALL, and French is
spoken fluently by only a minuscule minority.  So Grey must be referring to
the world OUTSIDE of Haiti.  But if so, then there are more people there
speaking ENGLISH (or Chinese, or Hindi, etc) then French.

So if Grey's "pure and simple" reason were to hold, Luc Gedeon's would be
better of with an English alias.  Following the orthographic free-for-all
model recurrently exemplified in Grey's posting, let's try this as an
English's translation for Gedeon's alias:

"Misteur Luc Gedeon aka Goude Voooodoooo Preest Who Flies Oveur Katastofeez"

(compare with: "Mister Luc Gedeon aka Good Vodou Priest Who Flies Over

The question is: Would Grey support the "Misteur ..."  mis-spelling as
sanguinely as she supports the "Jambe [sic] Malheur [sic]" mis-spelling?  I
doubt she would, at least judging from the fact that her English spelling
and syntax are devoid of the kind of blatant errors that characterize her

The next question then is: Given Grey's proclaimed love for Haitian
culture, how come she thinks it's OK to promote a caricature-like
representation of the Haitian language?  The Creole language, like the
Vodou religion, is at the core of Haitian culture.  And, as I said before,
increased literacy is crucial to Haiti's development.

Note that Grey's situation is different from that of the millions of
totally illiterate Haitians who unfortunately have no access to any means
whatsoever to acquire literacy in Haitian Creole (or in ANY language).  I
often keep in mind the memories of poor Haitian market women sweating over
their Creole bibles (in some outdated orthography!) trying very hard to
practice their fledgling literacy skills.  Thinking of these women, I find
it unpalatable that those self-declared `defenders' of Haitian culture who
do have easy access to the relevant knowledge can still decide to
purposefully ignore the standards of Creole orthography while blithely
promoting their own linguistically-flawed `standards' --- "MY standard is
THE standard"!  (What exactly is being promoted here?)

This is what I call "linguistic vulturism" --- or, more appropriately for
Haiti, "linguistic malfini-ism" (or, better yet, "linguistic makout-ism").

MIT Linguistics & Philosophy, 77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge MA 02139-4307
degraff@MIT.EDU        http://web.mit.edu/linguistics/www/degraff.home.html