[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
#4064: DeGraff comments on the Haitian-German connection re "konnen" (fwd)
From: Michel DeGraff <degraff@MIT.EDU>
White's comment below is quite perceptive:
> And it seems to me that the Creole verb "konnen" (to know) is way too
> close to the German "konnnen" (to be able to) and "kennen" (to be
> familiar with).
> These are educated guesses on my part, and I would welcome any corrections
> by those who are older, wiser, and know more facts than I do.
However the (apparent) etymological link between Haitian Creole (HC)
"konnen" and German "konnen"/"kennen" is only an orthographic illusion.
The HC and German orthographic rules are very different, which results in
quite distinct pronunciations for HC "konnen" and its apparent German
cousins. (What's relevant in elucidating the story of HC words ---
etymology --- is, more often than not, the spoken language not the written
The HC verb "konnen" is etymologically related to forms of the French verb
"connaitre" (as SPOKEN in early and dialectal versions of French).
And the semantic link between "to know", "to be able to" and "to be
familiar with" is one that is found in many languages all over the world.
In contemporary French for example, "I can swim" can be translated as "Je
sais nager" (literally: "I know to swim"). This is of course related to
the semantic similarity noted by White between HC "konnen" and German
"kennen"/"konnen", but this similarity is not (necessarily) due to
German-Haitian contact since similar parallels are found in French and
other non-related languages.
MIT Linguistics & Philosophy, 77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge MA 02139-4307