LING2040 Languages in Contact 10: Creole Literacy

1. Contact languages and development (see Sebba, Ch. 8)

Problems of contact languages in newly independent countries:

2.  Orthography

2.1 etymological spelling: words from lexifier language written as if they were English, French etc.

Advantages:

Disadvantages: 2.2 phonemic spelling: one-to-one match between phonemes and orthographic symbols

Advantages:

Disadvantages: e.g. "why would you want to respell a word like 'flower' as 'flowa'?"

Haitian creole: see Sebba, 249-252

phonemic system devised by English speakers for Haitian annoyed some native speakers--particularly the "Germanic letters" (k, w)

2.3 Ethnophonemic spelling

3. Literacy: The case of Cape Verde Creole

Fomer Portuguese colony off coast of W.Africa
Independent since 1975
Portuguese-lexifier creole developed in 16th Century
430,000 speakers in Cape Verde Islands, also 100,000  in Portugal, 350,000 inUSA
Portuguese as colonial language
c. 37% literate in Portuguese, 7-80% understand spoken Portuguese

1999  Cape Verde's Constitution revised to bring Creole into "every segment of society."

-> Creole to be used for elementary education, lower courts, hospitals, some radio broadcasts

Cabo Verde becomes Kaboverde, creole Kabuverdianu as national language to be used in media, education etc

problems:

e.g. Passive in Barlavento variety:

Es traboj foj sid fejt pa min
this job was been made for me
"This job was done by me"

Gender agreement in Barlavento varieties:

mnina   malkriada
girl  bad-mannered-FEM
"a bad-mannered girl"

Santiago variety adopted as standard: most basilectal, reflects African roots of the population

Continuum:  Portuguese > Barlavento Kabuverdianu> Sotavento Kabuverdianu

Alfabeto Unificado para a Escrita do Crioulo ("Unified alphabet for writing of creole")
- a compromise between phonemic orthography and traditional etymological spelling
- still awaiting approval
 

Descriptive grammar:

The Syntax of Cape Verdean Creole by Marlyse Baptista. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2002.

Dictionary:

Dicionário Prático Português-Caboverdiano (Variante de Santiago), by Mafalda MENDES, Nicolas QUINT, Fátima RAGAGELES & Aires SEMEDO. Verbalis, 2002.