LINGUIST List 10.1974

Mon Dec 20 1999

Disc: Written Creole: Genuine or Hoax?

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <karenlinguistlist.org>


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  1. R�my Viredaz, Re: Issue 10.1812 Written Creole: Genuine or Hoax?

Message 1: Re: Issue 10.1812 Written Creole: Genuine or Hoax?

Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 03:43:02 +0200
From: R�my Viredaz <remy.viredazspan.ch>
Subject: Re: Issue 10.1812 Written Creole: Genuine or Hoax?

Two things seem obvious to me in this text and I'm surprised they have
not been taken account of:

- It is not Creole, but English: if you disregard the peculiar
pronunciation, you get a text that is 95% standard English, whereas the
grammar of a Creole is very different from the grammar of the source
language. Only very few Creole grammatical features have been
incorporated.
- The spelling is unnecessarily complicated, with those many uh, ah, aw,
au: e.g. why spell 'aur' the word 'or'? If it were a sincere attempt at
writing a vernacular and making the English original more accessible to
some part of the population, the writed would probably have used either
the standard spelling of these sounds, or u, a, o, o, as simplified
spellings. On the other hand, those uh, ah, aw are frequent in mock
parodies of dialectal, rural varieties of American English.

Thus I agree partly with John Rickford in thinking that the writer had
some direct (though not "insider") knowledge of the vernacular he
imitated, but I can hardly agree with John's conclusion that the text
"may not have been a hoax, but an attempt to convey" the message with
clarity and forcefulness to speakers of English-based creoles (unless
the contractor who accepted to make the translation was very stupid and
ignorant?), and I cannot even call this text a 'translation'.

Remy Viredaz, Geneva (remy.viredazspan.ch)
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