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#3853: Mason Reminds Poincy of Earlier Corbett Post (fwd)


In #3839, Poincy continues the orthography debate with Degraff:

<< the issue remains that there is no explanation for dropping the accent off 
"" to have "e" while the same sound is conserved. How does the "e" in 
Ayitian differ phonetically from the "e" in French? >>

This issue was addressed in Corbettland back in September of 1999, #502 to be 
exact, written by Jeff Allen.

Let me quote the relevant section, in that the entire letter was quite long.

<< The aigu accented e wasn't dropped in Kreyol because of oral vowels.  
Haitian Kreyol does in fact have several oral and nasal e vowels:

e = [e] = front, mid-closed oral vowel
 (or ) = [E] = front, mid-open oral vowel
en = [e~] = front, mid nasal vowel

The reason for choosing to include or dismiss the use of accent marks 
(diacritics) in an orthograpic spelling system is first based on phonemic 
distinctions, followed then (sometimes more importantly) by political and 
sociolinguistic motivating factors.

For example, it is necessary in French to have both the Aigu and the Grave 
accent marks because there are 3 oral e vowels in French:

 (or ) = [e] = front, mid-closed oral vowel
 (or ) = [E] = front, mid-open oral vowel
e = front, mid-closed rounded oral vowel (as in the vowel of the word "peu" 
or the e between rn and m in the word "gouvernement")

These are, of course, in addition, to nasal vowels in French that mix up the 
e sound and the graphic representations of the letters:

ain, ein, etc. = [e~] = front, mid nasal vowel
en = [a~] = central/back low nasal vowel

The 3-way distinction for oral vowels in French makes it necessary to use two 
different accent marks plus the non-accented form, in order to allow for the 
phonetic and phonemic distinctions to be represented in an orthographic way.

In Haitian Creole, as in many French Creoles, there are only 2 phonetic 
forms, so using 2 different accent marks to make a 2-way distinction for oral 
vowels is overkill.  Only 1 accent mark is really necessary for a 2-way 
distinction. >>

I am not a linguist but this makes sense to me.


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