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#3704: An inconsistency in Creole orthography? - Antoine comments (fwd)

From: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>

I will let the linguists speak of the standardization of "yon" in HC
orthography. I just wish to make one comment about this
post.  It is not at all true that all (or perhaps even most) Haitians
pronounce "yon" as "yo-n".  If you crisscross the country from Northwest
to Central to Southern to Southwest, and every other which way, you will
note that for this specific word and many others, the variation in
pronunciations can be dramatically different.

This is reflected in the many ways we see the word actually and
frequently spelled in Haitian forums: "yon", "on", "ou", "you",
"youn"... I have yet to see "yo-n", but its adoption would have surprise
me, considering that there has been a drive for the simplification of
Creole spelling, which would eliminate the dash and single quote

Since many Haitians, mindful of the principles behind standard Haitian
orthography, but not overly concerned with learning a
unique or rigid standardization of how to write the language, have taken
to writing in HC, you could easily observe the
phenomenon (in HC forums) where people simply write the words according
to their own personally-based or regionally-based phonetics. Is it a
free-for-all?  No... but I do not blame them, and I am certainly no more
of an expert than they are.  The absence of computerized tools makes it
difficult to do otherwise, for many of us.  Mason Integrated
Technologies has been working on developing such tools for decades, but
one must be extraordinarily patient about bringing those tools to market
in the absence of widespread support and funding for doing just that.  I
am very happy to learn from this list the very recent and positive
developments that have been occurring in this matter.

An unfortunate tendency, though, is for Haitian experts (of all stripes)
not to stray too far from their ivory towers. They seem to enjoy writing
only for academic journals, and not involve themselves in using mass
communication tools, such as the Web, to advance their theories or
ideas.  For the rest of us, it's catch as we can.  We appear to be
beneath their even occasional attention.  Then we complain a lot
(however legitimately) about the preponderance of foreign experts on
Haitian issues.  But why should our own experts make themselves so

I think that it is most important for us Haitians to learn to write in
"Krey˛l", in however imperfect a manner (pardon my own bias for the
spelling of the language, though the last thing I want to do is revive
the old dispute of "Haitian" versus "Krey˛l" versus "Creole" versus
"Haitian Creole").  Of course, some purists would say: "If you are going
to write in "Krey˛l", you must do it right (or not do it at all), but I
think that it is far better to make lots of mistakes, AND WRITE, while
STRIVING TO learn the linguistically or official norms of the language,
than not to write at all or to write exclusively in French or English.
Simply put, in order to champion "Krey˛l" or "Haitian", we must simply
write in it. Practice, practice, practice...

Where you might say?  My personal lwa would scold me if I did not say:
Go to http://windowsonhaiti.com (The "Fow˛m Krey˛l").  Relax, Kathy,
this is not another attack on Vodou.

Guy S. Antoine
Happy and Proud Flag Day, Haiti!