LING2040 Languages in Contact 10: Creole Literacy
1. Contact languages and development (see Sebba, Ch. 8)
Problems of contact languages in newly independent countries:
medium of instrcution
2.1 etymological spelling: words from lexifier language written as if they
were English, French etc.
orthographic knowledge can be transferred to/from lexifier language
2.2 phonemic spelling: one-to-one match between phonemes and orthographic
misrepresentation: e.g. Mauritian cassé "broken" looks
like a French past participle, but in fact represents the bare form of
learnability: English, French as difficult orthographic systems
distinctiveness from the lexifier language (Abstand: German
e.g. "why would you want to respell a word like 'flower' as 'flowa'?"
lack of phonological awareness
resistance from speakers
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
Fomer Portuguese colony off coast of W.Africa
a compromise proposed by missionary linguist Kenneth Pike: "ethnophonemic"
orthography aims to be phonemic while respecting orthographic preferences
of native speakers.
Independent since 1975
Portuguese-lexifier creole developed in 16th Century
430,000 speakers in Cape Verde Islands, also 100,000 in Portugal,
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
national language to be used in media, education etc
e.g. Passive in Barlavento variety:
each island has a different dialect
some structurally closer to Portuguese
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:
"a bad-mannered girl"
Santiago variety adopted as standard: most basilectal, reflects African
roots of the population
Continuum: Portuguese > Barlavento Kabuverdianu>
Alfabeto Unificado para a Escrita do Crioulo ("Unified
alphabet for writing of creole")
- a compromise between phonemic orthography and traditional etymological
- still awaiting approval
The Syntax of Cape Verdean Creole by Marlyse Baptista.
Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2002.
Dicionário Prático Português-Caboverdiano
(Variante de Santiago), by Mafalda MENDES, Nicolas QUINT, Fátima
RAGAGELES & Aires SEMEDO. Verbalis, 2002.