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THE INDIANA UNIVERSITY HAITIAN CREOLE DICTIONARYPROBLEMS IN BILINGUAL LEXICOGRAPHY Craige Roberts, Sarah Yoder, and Albert Valdman The Indiana University Dictionary of Haitian Creole, French and English (IUHCD) was compiled under the direction of Albert Valdman from 19761980 , with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities.1 This paper focuses on the problems encountered in compiling a dictionary of a language without a fully developed literary tradition. As linguists have stressed for many years, Haitian Creole is a fully developed language, although its low status reflects the older notion that it is only a bastardized and inadequate French. While Haitian Creole is spoken by the entire population of Haiti, French is the official language of the country and is used for government administrative functions, in courts, schools and churches. Knowledge of French is limited to the ten percent of the population which is educated. In recent years, the government has begun to explore the possibility of providing elementary education in Haitian Creole. A certain degree of official recognition was accorded to the vernacular by the Constitution of 1964, article 35: Le français est la langue officielle. Son emploi est obligatoire dans les services publics. Néanmoins, la Loi détermine les cas et conditions dans lesquels l'usage du Créole est permis et même recommandé pour la sauvegarde des intérêts matériels et moraux des Citoyens qui ne connaissent pas suffisamment la langue française. Prior to the IUHCD, several small dictionaries and glossaries were compiled for Haitian Creole, mostly bilingual Haitian Creole-French or French-Haitian Creole.2 Because of its improving status within Haiti, the importance of Haitian -U.S. relations, and the increasing number of Haitians residing in this country whose children are entitled by law to bilingual education in their native tongue, a need has arisen for a dictionary of Haitian Creole and English . The IUHCD was conceived to fill this need and to provide basic lexical information for scholars working with the language. Because of the importance of French in Haitian society and culture, the IUHCD was planned to translate Haitian Creole into both French and English, with reverse indices. Once funding from the NEH had been secured, Valdman assembled a staff including several Haitian Creole speakers, two native speakers of French, and graduate students in linguistics on the Bloomington campus of Indiana University . The first task was the thorough review of existing materials, very uneven in quality, and the development of entry slips. Potential headwords were culled from many sources: an unpublished study (complementary Ph.D. thesis, 1958) by Dr. Pradel Pompilus, Professor of Linguistics at the Institut d'Ethnologie at the State University of Haiti, PeIeman 's Dictionnaire Créole-Français (a French translation of Gesproken taal van Haïti), and the Ti Diksyonnè Kreyôl-Franse provided the entries for the initial corpus. Yves Joseph, a Haitian staff member, contributed many of the items dealing with the fishing industry, based on field research conducted in Haiti in 129 130The Haitian Creole Dictionary the summer of 1978. Items which were carefully read to excerpt new terms included M. Racine's dissertation, Trouillot's Ti difé boulé sou istoua Ayiti, Comhaire-Sylvain's collection of folktales, and Nelson's Zouazo Ayiti-yo ('Haitian birds'). Courses in Haitian Creole were conducted at LU. throughout this period, and many terms came to light during these classes or simply in casual conversation among staff members. When citations for an entry were not available or did not meet the standards developed for illustrative sentences , Haitian members of the staff wrote several sentences containing the term in question, attempting to illustrate as many nuances of meaning and usage as possible. All terms used in these sentences were then checked for inclusion in the files and were added where they were new. In this way, over 10,000 entry slips were developed during the first two years of the project, with separate entry for homonyms and for each meaning of polysemous terms. Orthography The written sources from which entries were culled utilize several different orthographic systems. Due to limitations in space, it would not have been feasible to provide separate entry for each orthographic...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 129-145
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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