LINGUIST List 10.1825

Tue Nov 30 1999

Disc: Re:10.1812 Written Creole: Genuine or Hoax?

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Peter T. Daniels, Re: 10.1812, Disc: Written Creole: Genuine or Hoax?

Message 1: Re: 10.1812, Disc: Written Creole: Genuine or Hoax?

Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1999 14:24:51 -0500 (EST)
From: Peter T. Daniels <>
Subject: Re: 10.1812, Disc: Written Creole: Genuine or Hoax?

	Here are two notes on John Rickford's comments on the "HUD Creole"
	LINGUIST Network wrote:
	> Date: Sun, 28 Nov 1999 07:29:10 -0600
	> From: Rebecca Larche Moreton <>
	> Subject: Written Creole: Genuine or Hoax? (fwd)
	> Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 18:48:52 -0800 (PST)
	> From: John Rickford <rickfordcsli.Stanford.EDU>
	> (2) One of the features that makes this sample look suspect is its
	> inconsistent and non-phonemic orthography. Contrary to "Cecil's" reply,
	> there is a widely accepted phonemic spelling system for English-based
	> creoles--the one developed by Frederic Cassidy in _Jamaica Talk_ in the
	> 1960s, and subsequently adapted for other Caribbean varieties (Guyanese,
	> Barbadian, Trinidadian, and so on) in many publications since. University
	> of the West Indies linguist Hubert Devonish has for years been advocating
	> that a standardized version of the Cassidy orthography be used throughout
	> the Anglophone Caribbean to increase the amount of public writing in
	> Creole (see his 1986 book, _Language and Liberation: Creole Language
	> Politics in the Caribbean_). At the same time, we should not assume that a
	> consistent phonemic orthography is what non-linguists like best and
	> understand most easily. On the contrary, "lay" readers sometimes find
	> phonemic spellings (e.g. /kou/ for "cow") too far removed from the regular
	> spellings they're accustomed to, and they like the slightly modified
	> versions of the latter that they encounter in novels and the like. In
	> this respect, whoever wrote the HUD document might not have been
	> completely off the mark.
	A friend of mine who lived in Honolulu in the early 1980s would once in
	a while send me a newspaper column written in legitimate Hawaiian
	Creole, but the orthography was strictly that of Standard English
	wherever the etymology of the Creole word was known. Presumably this was
	for the convenience of bilingual readers, but it did give the text an
	Amos'n'Andy sort of derogatory appearance.
	> (5) It is striking--and evidence of the force of the dominant language
	> ideology faced by vernacular-writers and users that HUD's English creole
	> version was withdrawn after a single complaint was filed. It is even more
	> striking, that the Haitian Creole version was ALSO withdrawn even though
	> no complaint was directed at that version and even though there is an
	> established tradition of writing, reading and teaching in Haitian Creole.
	In the early 1990s I taught an Introduction to Linguistics class at
	Chicago State University. The students were of quite varied ethnicity,
	and each one was happy to say a few sentences in their native language
	-- except for a woman from Haiti, who absolutely refused to speak a word
	of Haitian Creole in front of the class.
	More recently, here in New York my mother's Home Health Aide, who came
	from Jamaica nearly ten years ago, was happy to talk about Jamaican
	Creole and Jamaican English (and was always careful to distinguish
	between Creole forms, which she clearly disparaged, and Jamaican
	English-specific terms, which she often identified as coming from the
	Peter T. Daniels
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