Re: Off-topic : Linguaje (was Re: Peking/Beijing)

From: Alain LaBonté  (
Date: Mon Oct 18 1999 - 13:59:57 EDT

À 07:10 1999-10-18 -0700, John Cowan a écrit :
>Edward Cherlin scripsit:
>> French does not have as wide a range of offspring as some of these
>> others. Louisiana Cajun (Acadien) and Haitian Creole French are
>> perhaps the more extreme examples. I haven't heard Haitian called a
>> separate language, and there is no doubt about the existence of the
>> Haitian military.

>That is because Haitian Creole French is culturally treated as the language
>of a despised minority, despite the fact that 95% of Haitians speak it,
>and perhaps 90% of Haitians are monolingual in it.

[Alain] I have seen on many occasions that Haitian créole is indeed a
language, the only full-fledged language considered as such indeed whose
origin is French, as sure as French has Latin as its main (by far) origin
(French is indeed a créole of Latin in fact, we completely modified its
grammar over times with a few touches of Gallic [not garlic but as tasty!]
and an even bigger lot of vocabulary and grammar from Germanic Frank)...

   Haitian créole has a very different grammar, even if a French-speaker
recognizes a lot of words without fully understanding sentences -- it is
mystifying as much as voodoo zombies which indeed exist. In fact it is
perhaps as different from French as Catalan or Italian are from French...
and nevertheless its origin is definitely French.

   I don't know if Louisiana créole is similar or not though. I just know
that Cajun (Acadien or « acadjun »), which is not a créole but just a
dialect, is still quite understandable to me (I'm not of Acadian origin,
needless to say) and even for a Parisian (I speak of many experiences in
the bayous accompanied by Franco-French people and by Québecers)... Imho
any Cajun who makes an effort can sustain any conversation with any
French-speaker who also leaves his regionalisms home (including the
Parisians, who can also become totally *not understandable* if they speak
center-city "argot" or suburban "verlan")... For Haitian créole that is a
different story, although a lot of Haitians are also bilingual and speak an
outstanding, *excellent*, French...

   When differences between two "languages" are only explainable by slight
vocabulary and pronunciation differences and not by grammar differences, I
think that one can speak about dialects of the same language. When grammar
(I'm not talking about individual mistakes but about systematic variations)
or vocabulary are totally different, I believe that one can talk about
different languages, whether or not there is a specific army attached to
the "dialect". But I am not a linguist, so don't trust me, it's just my
personal understanding of the notion of "language".

Alain LaBonté

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