Language Issues for our Readers

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Guysanto
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Language Issues for our Readers

Post by Guysanto » Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:45 am

Is the free choice of languages on the forum a good thing or a bad thing?

How does it look to our visitors?

Is switching from one language to another inside a thread (or even inside of a post) too bewildering to readers who may not master one or the other language?

Ideally, should separate forums be maintained based on language choice?

Is the free-style of expression adopted by Ann Pale the best way to go?

Do you have suggestions [other than systematic translations * ] on possible modifications for improvement of Ann Pale's readability or user experience?

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* Systematic translation of posts, from Haitian Creole to French or English, or any other language pair, is practically impossible, because there would be no one to assume that responsibility, voluntarily, as it is time-consuming, with no financial rewards attached to it, for the foreseeable future. This has been suggested before, but in my experience it is completely unrealistic. However, anyone is free to translate his or her own posts on the forum and maintain distinct language posts with the same content. That option has always been available to all Ann Pale members. 
If you read Ann Pale and have any concern over its constant [or natural?] language switching and possible adverse consequences, please respond with any suggestion. If you think that it's great as it is, feel free to say that too, so that we can determine which way to go for best usability practices.

Barb
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Post by Barb » Wed Apr 16, 2008 2:59 pm

I think it is a necessary part of Windows on Haiti that it be at least trilingual. The only parts that are truly accessable to me are the English parts, although occasionally I will make use of an online translator to help me with the French. My husband, who reads French far better than I, mentioned that squinting at the Kreyol and trying to decipher it gives him a headache, but no one is talking to him particularly. I can catch a phrase or two of the Kreyol from time to time, but mostly I accept this as a conversation not directed to me. I assume if someone has something to say for my ears, they will put it in a language I can understand. The board is not primarily for people like me and I respect the privacy and no doubt all the in jokes and teasing that comes with communicating in Kreyol. Yeah, I wish I could follow it, but that's life. I have a great deal of respect for the linguistic skills of the people who can chat, think, argue, pun, grandstand, and complain in three languages with ease.

Dr Roger Malebranche

Post by Dr Roger Malebranche » Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:18 pm

Hi Barb
Your point is well taken. I am an older Haitian who came to the USA in 1961. I migrated Upstate NY in 1962, married an American nurse who is the best wife anyone could wish for and had 2 great American children. There are no Haitians around and my surgical practice was totally English speaking. I can speak French, English and Creole well enough but my difficulty is the reading and writing of Creole... a language I grew up with ... and I can understand your husband's frustrations. It takes me great patience to decipher a long Creole letter and there are parts I don't get at all. Because I love the site and its participants, because Haiti and Haitians will always be part of me, I am trying at the present to self learn the reading and writing of my native language. If it is that hard for me I can understand the difficulties for someone starting at zero. I am worried many French and English lovers of the site will get discouraged and give up. I am certain this is not what Guy and the other members want to happen. I am trying hard to integrate into the system but if someone could use a magic wand to subtitle the Creole posts, particularly the long and important ones, WOH followers and Haitianophiles would be ecstatic and keep patronizing the site and its important messages.
Tell your husband to keep trying, like I am doing now.
Roger.

Dunord

Language Issues for our Readers

Post by Dunord » Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:41 pm

When WOH first began I noticed either French or English. Within the last few years those who have taken the time and put forth the effort are writing more and more Kreyol to the point where it seems to as if they wish to exclude those who don't read or write Kreyol.
I grew up speaking Kreyol as did all of my childhood friends but it wasn't taught in school. French was taught but I missed out on that too.
I am getting better at reading and writing Kreyol and navigate WOH quite well but I fear WOH is becoming elitist in that it at times seems to be a Kreyol language forum. If only those who are fluent in reading and writing Kreyol can participate then most native Haitians will be excluded also. The funny thing to me is those who write in Kreyol do so though it is not their first written language, is there a point they are trying to make or would they prefer their comments be understood by a small circle of their peers only? Is the idea to force others to learn to write and read our native language?

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Guysanto
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Post by Guysanto » Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:28 pm

Hi Roger (Woje),
Though I could be wrong, I don't think that Barb or her husband is Haitian, so they may not have sufficient motivation to keep trying to decipher Haitian Creole. Most of us however have a stake in this, and that's why we kept trying until we got it. Barb does not speak Kreyòl, we do. That's a huge advantage.

What all of us, Kreyòl writers on the site, have been trying to tell you is that it isn't as hard as you seem to make it. The reason is that, unlike French and English, the representation of sounds is nearly 100% consistent. It should even be 100%, but in practice we don't attain that degree of perfection. For instance, I write "pwatann" for string beans, others like Serge write "pwatan". I write "machin" for automobile, others like Leonel write "machinn". The words for "I, bread, dog, devious" are "mwen, pen, chyen, malen". Note that in all those words the sound "en" is ALWAYS pronounced/read/written exactly the same way and there should not be any other representation of the sound, period ! [according to the official rules of Haitian orthography]. So, since you already learned to write "mwen" for "I", it follows that IN ALL OTHER KREYÒL WORDS, "en" will sound/read/write the same way and there are no other ways to represent it. So, you see the concept? You learn one word, and automatically from that one word, you've learned how to read/write hundreds of others. Now, isn't that POWERFUL? More than powerful, I think that it is exciting, because the learning curve should by now gradually disappear right in front of your very own eyes. You said that you wanted a magic wand? I just gave it to you!
[quote]
if someone could...subtitle the Creole posts, particularly the long and important ones, WOH followers and Haitianophiles would be ecstatic and keep patronizing the site and its important messages.[/quote]
You're right, but who would that someone be... are you waiting for the second coming of Pwofesè Pistach?

Serge
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Post by Serge » Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:02 pm

Guy,

You are right. Who would do such job of subtitling Kreyòl posts. I have training in translation, but I cannot guarantee at all that I would have the time to do any of that.

But on a larger point, I want to reinforce what you say, which is that Roger, Dunord and Co. are making things much more difficult than they are. They have conditioned themselves that it is difficult, and that makes if a double hurdle for them. But really, it is not.

As I read what Dunord said, I think that we would not be having this debate if kreyòl had not had this kind of history in our country: the prejudice, the neglect, the brainwash etc. What Dunord says about WOH "becoming elitist" is quite illustrative. How can a forum set up by a Haitian who was born in Haiti, in which the majority of participants are Haitian and speak and write the native language of the country, appear to be elitist? I agree we have a problem because of our linguistic history: only now is our kreyòl acquiring its real value. Better late than never. This puts pressure on a lot of us to catch up, and fast.

What Dunord fails to realize is that if we, Haitians abroad do not watch it, we will be left behind while the great majority of Haitians inside Haiti are being taught to read and write in their native language. If things go as planned, in 3 to 5 years, more than 3 millions people will be literate. And those of us who , for one reason or anoher, will not have done our homework, will miss the boat. Not that this will necessarily hurt us physically o materially, but since a lot of us would like to be in touch with our country while abroad, why not get on board with this movement?

In conclusion, I do not have any problem at all with the forum being tri-lingual, even though the ideal would have been that it be bilingual. The important is that we all can communicate and understand each other.

Serge

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Post by Guysanto » Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:16 pm

Dunord, where have you been? You probably did not read that you were in charge of organizing a WOH anniversary get-together in Haiti!

Anyway, contrary to your observations, the first forum in WOH was 100% in Kreyòl (and so for three years). We adopted English and French (hardly French!) in later iterations of the forum. Today, most of the posts are in English to accommodate the many Haitian-Americans, Canadian Haitians, and North America Haitianophiles who use English as their primary language in cyberspace, by choice or by necessity. So, if expressing oneself in Kreyòl is elitist (a rather curious notion), then we have in fact been getting away from that sort of elitism in a big way over the last several years.

But this is not the conversation that I really wanted to have in this thread, that is I was hoping that we were not going to spend time accusing each other of "elitism" or pitting the use of a language against another. We already have another thread going for that. What I wanted to get at is this (please bear with me) : Do you have practical suggestions to increase the readability of the site? Should we make an effort to segregate the languages? Is it best to leave things the way they are? What new guidelines should we adhere to?

Haiti's two official languages are French and Haitian Creole. Yet we hardly use French on this site, and personally I don't regret that. When we write in Haitian Creole, we seem to bare more of our soul, our feelings, our intimate thoughts, our typically Haitian ways of thinking. Except that most of us don't really want to make the effort to learn it. So, we naturally gravitate to English and sometimes I wonder if that is not "elitist" (do most Haitians in Haiti speak, read, and write English?) But, come to think of it, how many Haitians in Haiti own computers and have access to the internet? How many even have access to electrical power? So, please let's be realistic and stop talking of elitism in a 'self-defeat' fashion when we are in fact deeply engaged in an activity that is fundamentally elitist, for the time being.

I am just hoping that sometimes in the 21st century, the power of the internet will be open to all Haitians, due to huge infrastructure improvements, and that Windows on Haiti will have led in a way that will be most significant to them.


P.S. On second thought, you are right in saying "When WOH first began I noticed either French or English." That was WOH without a forum. Then came "Fowòm REKA", then "Fowòm Ayisyen" and "Fowòm Kreyòl", all in Haitian Creole; then a mercifully brief, unsuccessful attempt to manage 3 distinct forums (one in Kreyòl, one in French, one in English); and finally today's trilingual format which has been in effect since April 2003. [Yes, I just realized that while WOH is 10-year strong, Ann Pale Forum is itself 5 years old!!!!! this month.]

Dunord

Language Issues for our Readers

Post by Dunord » Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:26 pm

Guy, I hope you weren't offended by the tone of my post but it had been a trying day and I was reading a WOH post in Creole/Kreyol that I wished to pass on to a friend of mine verbally. Now my friend speaks Kreyol but doesn't read it and I was trying to read it to him in my broken[but getting better] fashion while he was looking at me as if I were a fool. I told him to read the damn thing himself if he was so smart but he being educated in Haiti could only read French and reads enough English to get by in business. We had a good laugh with each other over the whole thing and then decided to ask you if we had to learn to read another language which strangely enough happens to be our own. He decided I could be considered peasant bourgeois if I got too far along in my literacy studies. It's chance I'll take but since you asked another question about expanding WOH here's a thought.

Why don't you do a podcast ? Do it in creole first of course and it would be a wonderful thing. True not everyone has a computer but you'd be amazed at how busy the cyber cafes are and how fast information passes throughout the country from those who have been on the internet. You just reading from the posts on the WOH forum would be an excellent way for everyone to hear of the various views we all have. The different points of view would be invaluable if broadcast in our language over the internet.

Do a podcast Guy. Eventually I'd bet a radio station in Haiti would rebroadcast it [fees would be up to you] and Jean Haitian residing up on a mountain or down by some remote beach would hear that his brothers and sisters in North America still argue, discuss and disagree but wherever we may be we still love our country and We Are Haitian !

Dunord

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Post by Guysanto » Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:14 pm

Dunord, that sounds like a great idea!!! (but I'll have to digest it, because that would be still another commitment).

No, I was not offended, not at all. I just get offended when months go by and I don't hear a peep from you (just kidding!)

What podcasts do you guys listen to already? You seem to be ahead of the game and pretty soon, you will have to rescue your much older brother, technologically speaking.

Besides, won't they think that I am running for something... :roll:

I'd better let Leonel do it. :lol:

Dunord

Language Issues for our Readers

Post by Dunord » Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:20 pm

At present there is no podcast by Haitians and for Haitians in Haiti that I know of so you'd be a pioneer! It would take a little while for the word to get out but believe me people would listen. Yes, there's a little more of a commitment but all you have to do is talk.
There are podcasts that are listened to regarding the urban scene in the US and Canada but I don't frequent them. Please don't ask me how to do it but how hard can it be? Talking is easier than typing.
If anyone starts to ask if you are running for president just tell them you are undecided but you are accepting contributions.
I apologize for not checking in more frequently I just moved back several months ago though my family hasn't returned with me yet. We'll all be in Haiti this summer though looking for food with everyone else.
Come on man do a podcast. I'll even go to Dondon, I'll tell them to come to town and listen to their long lost son.
Dunord

Dr Roger Malebranche

Post by Dr Roger Malebranche » Fri Apr 18, 2008 9:48 am

What's a PODCAST ? ki sa sa ye ? I am still using my radio "galen", the one you use without electricity. It is called here " crystal radio " and any Haitian older than Guy will remember spending many happy hours listening to Tino Rossi on them. I feel left out " Youngguns". Come on, give older Haitians a break. Dunord has good ideas. I know from experience that Guy gets his danders up when he is pushed in a corner but I have a question. Those 3.000.000 people who are going to be well educated in Kreol 5 years from now, what are we going to do with them ? If the trend keeps up, in another 20 years we'll have 20.000.000 well educated Kreyol reading and writing Haitians. Are they going to be staying back home? What are they going to do?

If we put our thinking caps on, are we not placing the horse in front of the cart ? I was looking at the rampaging mobs destroying and looting in the name of hunger and it dawned on me that we have way way too many mouths to feed in the Haitian big cities and our population has passed the capabilities of our deforested and arid country to feed it. We need decentralization, we need population control, we need agriculture, we need security, we need a touristic industry, we need light industries, we need education of course BUT one that hand in hands with the needs of Haiti. We need Helpful and Meaningful education. At the present we are educating Haitians to export them abroad, and the debate about educating them in the language of our dead ancestors who lived in a totally different world is woefully moot.

Sorry Guy, I am a proud Haitian also and I am as loving as any of you younger folks of our ancestral language but I am trying to look at what would be the best way to pull Haiti from the heap pile.

Woge.

Dr Roger Malebranche

Post by Dr Roger Malebranche » Fri Apr 18, 2008 10:00 am

I forgot to thank all my Kreyol pwofese, particularly pwofese Pistach, pwofese Guy etc... for their free lessons. I expect a bill from them.
Woge.

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Post by Guysanto » Fri Apr 18, 2008 10:54 am

Man, if in spite of my best arguments, I cannot convince you to write your name as "Woje" instead of "Woge", I cannot send you a bill. Elèv la mete pwofesè a deyò, li voye li al pran retrèt li. Kididonk, mwen pap kab kontinye ak leson yo ankò.

Pwofesè retrete Gi Antwàn

Jgpalmis
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Post by Jgpalmis » Fri Apr 18, 2008 11:55 am

M'ap eseye kout nan sa mwen pral di-a. Dr Woje mande, nan yon sans, si alfabetize ayisyen ki poko konn li yo an kreyòl, se pa mete bèf yo anvan bouwèt la ?

Reyaksyon pa m': Lè nou konpare pèp sou latè, nan ka sa-a m'ap senpman konpare pèp ayisyen ak pèp chinwa nan zafè lanng. M'pa kwè si chinwa alfabetize tout sitwayen li yo nan lanng mandaren osnon mandeng sa nui devlopman yo?

Dòk la, ak tou respè mwen gen pou ou, tankou w' mwen santi ijans sitiyasyon an pou nou ede peyi nou Ayiti soti nan twou kote li soti-a. E mwen rete kwè lanng nou an se youn nan zouti k'ap ede nou fè sa.

M'kwè si nou fè efò pou nou gade lanng an jeneral kòm zouti kominikasyon yon pèp , san pati pri, n'ap kapab konprann enpòtans kreyòl la. Yon ti ekzanp dòk, yon medsen ki fòme nan lanng Ris e ki pa konn pale anglè k'ap maton nan domèn espesyalizasyon li e menm plis ke youn ki pale sèlman angle osnon franse. Kidonk, pou mwen lanng pa kapab yon anpechman pou devlopman. Okontrè li favorize transfè konesans jenerasyon apre jenerasyon.

Se nou Ayisyen ki pou bay lanng nou an valè. Se enstistisyon nou yo ki pou mete li opa. Se lidè nou yo ki pou gen vizyon. Dòk la, mwen tou m'ap ankouraje ou nan jefò w'ap fè pou aprann kreyòl la, tanpri pa dekouraje. Ou pa janm konnen petèt ou gen pou ekri yon bagay an kreyòl yon jou, enpi Ti antwàn ki nan lekòl alfa, nan Kalfou prens, ap kapap reve pou li vin yon gwo doktè tankou doktè Woje. Ou pa janm konnen!

Ankouraje gran frè mwen

Frè ou

Palmis

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