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#3941: Corbett is utterly confused by the linguistic situation!! HELP!
The discussion of Creole language: spelling and pronunciation
After the many posts we've had in the last couple of weeks -- all this
began with an attack on a mambo in Philadelphia!! -- I find myself utter
confused. I come to the list and linguistic scholars to help me figure
out where my confusion lies.
As I'm seeing it now, there seems to be some huge logical confusion. I'm
presuming it's in my mind, but, I've always been one who utterly abhors
logical confusions, so I'm asking for help in getting a consistent view
of this situation.
Here are the propositions I have in mind.
1. I've thought it was maintained that the notion of the Haitian
spelling system in the orthographic system is phonetic.
2. Further, I thought from what Michel DeGraff tells me that ONLY the
spelling system dictated from on high by prescription.
3. This would mean that both pronunciation and grammar are based on
ACTUAL PRACTICE by speakers of Haitian Creole.
4. Of course # 3 allows for such empirical concepts as "standard" (based
on actual empirical evidence of a standard as what the large majority
use) and a notion of a substandard. This seems true of every language
and can be empirically shown in studies of actual practice.
I think those are the fundamental propositions which lead to my confusion.
What we have heard recently -- persuasive arguments to me -- is that
there is significant PRONUNCIATION differences in various areas of
Haiti. Evidence was cited from the Cap Haitian area as well as from the
Now, my confusion rises. If:
1. spelling is phonetics and based on how people ACTUALLY SPEAK (not how
some select intellectuals, scholars and government officials speak or
wished others spoke)
2. there is pronunciation variation
Then it would seem to logically follow that there would be differential
spellings depending upon who was the speaker.
If this objection were countered by saying that: the spelling system is
based on the empirically objective notion of a standard, then I would
guess that somewhere this evidence of the empirical "standard" could be
pointed to and shown to exist. But, as best I know it does not.
Does this mean that this is really just a government/scholars/officials'
decision to dictate pronunciation and not ONLY orthography?
Two things do not seem to me logically to cohere:
1. That pronunciation may well have strong regional features. But,
pronunciation is not prescribed for the nation and the notion of
pronunciation is empirical.
2. There is ONE approved spelling, and this ONLY is prescribed. The
rest of the study and knowledge of Haitian linguistics is empirical.
Where does this seemingly simply logical puzzle go wrong?
I am not maintaining ANY position. I am just utterly confused by claims
which just don't seem to fit together in a logically consistent manner,
and to fit with what I -- in my completely non-professional standpoint --
understand as the generally empirical and non-prescriptive nature of