Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute

Tulane University

Albert Valdman Lecture: Kapwa ap kenbe djanm - Sociolinguistic Variation in Northern Haiti

March 5th, 2010
3:00 PM

Location
Greenleaf Conference Room
100A Jones Hall
Tulane University

Among French-based creoles, Haitian Creole has the highest degree of standardization, with a written norm—Standard Haitian Creole (SHC)—based on the speech of Port-au-Prince monolingual speakers. For instance, SHC lacks front rounded vowels and postvocalic /r/ and is reaching the rest of the country through the media and schools.

To evaluate the incursion of SHC into the North region, a sociolinguistic study of Northern Haitian Creole (NHC) was conducted in Cape Haitian, Haiti‘€™s second largest city, and surrounding countryside. Besides stereotypes such as the possessive pronoun kin (vs. SHC pa), we found that several NHC features first described in Étienne (1974) are still ubiquitous in the North.

In this presentation, we look at social factors and linguistic conditioning (syntactic and phonological) of three sociolinguistic variables, shedding light on the current vitality and status of NHC features. While the frequently occurring third person singular pronoun seems to have remained below the level of consciousness, the preposition ak ‘€˜with‘€™, which alternates between local ake and standard ak / avè / avèk, appears to be at least a marker, if not a stereotype (Valdman 2008). As for the possessive, which varies between the local form N + a + NP and the standard N + NP, it is pointed out in some speakers‘€™ metalinguistic comments, but its status as a marker or stereotype is unclear.

Using a subset of 24 speakers from the more than 120 in our corpus, we show that regardless of their individual sociolinguistic status, all three variables show a robust preference for NHC features in most syntactic contexts. This study contributes to the growing body of literature applying the tools and methods of variationist sociolinguistics to creole languages, in an effort to assess the effects of the standard on other geographic varieties.

Albert Valdman is the Rudy Professor of French and Linguistics (emeritus) at Indiana University and author of Ann Pale Kreyòl: An Introdcutory Course in Haitian Creole and Haitian Creole – English Bilingual Dictionary. This event is sponsored by the Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies.

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This speaker series was developed by Professor Caballero as part of her class, Introduction to Latinx Studies. It is designed to share the diversity and contributions of the local New Orleans Latinx community. Each speaker shares their perspective on a wide array of important topics relating to community and the city. In order to attend these online events, please REGISTER HERE

  • Thursday, September 17th – Rafael Delgadillo, PhD Candidate at UC-Santa Cruz in Latin American and Latino Studies
  • Thursday, October 1st – Leticia Casilda, Familia Unidas en Acción Familias Unidas en Acción was founded in 2018 with the vision of providing immigrant families in the greater New Orleans area and Louisiana with the resources needed to thrive in a new community without forgetting their own culture and history. We are the only community organization in New Orleans and Louisiana primarily focused on providing shelter and transitional support to recently arrived immigrant families. Our membership is made up of impacted immigrant families who believe that our families and children deserve equal opportunities, respect as human beings, access to their histories and culture, and to be acknowledged as productive members of society.
  • Thursday October 15 – Fermín Ceballos, musician and writer – Fermín Ceballos is a tri-lingual Afro-Dominican songwriter, musician, bandleader, composer, actor, and poet living and creating art in New Orleans, Louisiana. He studied art & music at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD) and was a professor of music for the Dominican Republic Secretary of State for Culture National School System. His primary musical instruments are the accordion, guitar, piano, and voice. Fermín continually works on several musical projects in the Gulf South and the US; such as Merengue4-FOUR, a musical project focused on Dominican Music (Bachata & Merengue Típico), Fermín‘€™s Latin Fusion Orchestra performing original salsa inspired compositions, and Fermín Acústico a musical concept based on guitar and voice. With all his projects, he performs original compositions based on his fusion of different sounds and musical rhythms. In 2019, he released his first book of poems in Spanish and English entitled Pisando Mi Sombra (Walking My Shadow).
  • Thursday, October 29th – Christopher Louis Romaguera. Romaguera is Cuban-American writer who lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was born in Hialeah, Florida and graduated from Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Romaguera has been published in The Daily Beast, Curbed National, Peauxdunque Review, New Orleans Review, PANK Magazine and other publications. He is a monthly columnist at The Ploughshares Blog. He has an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of New Orleans.
  • Thursday, November 12th TBD

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