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#3668: An inconsistency in Creole orthography?


Fellow Corbetters,
        I presented what I feel is an interesting inconsistency in Creole
Orthography to E Vedrine on the kreyol@egroups.com list, and he suggested
that I present it to this list for comment. The gist of what I wrote to E
Vedrine follows:
"I recently noticed a major orthographic problem in Creole which I have not
seen addressed anywhere. If Creole orthography were perfectly consistent,
then the Creole word "yon" would rhyme with the Creole word "bon". But it
doesn't. The Creole word
"yon" seems to have the "o" of  the English words "tone" and "cone". Is
there any explanation for this? Perhaps the Creole word "yon" should be
written "yo-n" in the new orthography to indicate how it is to be

In my response to someone on the list who made some interesting
observations, I replied as follows:
The pastor of my church comes from Haiti, so I presented this discrepancy to
him. He said that he pronounces "yon" as "yo-n" (I should mention that the
"-n" at the end of "yo-n" is nasalized). I discussed this matter also with
my friend Sandra and her mother both of whom are native Haitians. Both of
them pronounced "yon" as "yo-n". And Sandra's mother agreed with me that the
spelling of these two words should indicate how they are pronounced, and
that the "o" of "yon" has a different pronunciation than the "o" of "bon" .
In other words "yon" does not rhyme with "bon" although the way they are
written in the new orthography suggests that they would rhyme.  Further, on
the tape which comes with "Ti Koze Kreyol" (Bryant C. Freeman, Ph.D.,
University of Kansas). "yon" is everywhere pronounced "yo-n". Now it may be
the case that "yon" is pronounced to rhyme with "bon" in some parts of
Haiti, and in other parts of Haiti, "yon" more rhymes with the English words
"tone" and "cone".


Michael Fitzpatrick