Skip to main content

Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

See other formats

442                The Loom of Language
tricks of expression when talking to a foreigner who is not at home
in their own language Thus a Frenchman will say to an American
tourist moi>> leaucoup aimer le$ amencains^ i e faime hen Us am&rtcams
On their side, natives of subject communities react to the white man
by re-echoing the phraseology in which they receive their orders
Everywhere the new speech-product consists of more or less deformed
European words strung together with a minimum of grammar
In Pidgin English, grammatical reduction does not amount to much-,
because English has met Chinese half-way French, which clings to
more remnants of its flexional past, offers more to bite on Thus the
noun of French, as it is spoken by descendants of African slaves in
Mauritius, has lost its gender. If the adjective has different masculine
and feminine forms, the Creole eliminates one, e g bm Ion madame
(= une bonne madame) The demonstrative fa stands for ce, cet, ces> as
well as for cea> cela> celm, celle, ceux, celles Mo (= moi) means / before
a verb, and my before a noun Li (= lui) means he or htm Simplifica-
tion of the verbal apparatus is pushed to the uttermost. The Creole
verb is the form most often used, i e. the past participle or the impera-
tive, e g vm (= venir), manzb (= manger). To indicate time or aspect,
the Creole relies on helpers. Thus va (otpoicr) points to the future,e g
// va mm (he will come) The helper which signifies the simple past is
U or ti (= ete), eg mo ti manze (I ate) In the same way fine orfint
expresses completed action, e g mo fini came (I have spoken, and
won't say more) The form t& or ft, which combines with the invariant
verb stem is all that is left of the conjugation (or usage) of etre There is
no copula For je suis malady the Mauritian Creole says mo malade
(I sick). Since te or ti has no other function, there is no literal equivalent
for the Cartesian claptrap / think, therefore I am.
Orthodox linguists have paid scant attention to these vernaculars
Consequently there is little available information about them. To the
student of language-planning for world-co-operation, they have salu-
tary lessons Above all, they open a new approach to the question, what
are minimal grammatical requirements of communication at a parti-
cular cultural leveP Apart from Steiner, the inventor of Pasilingua
(1885), none of the pioneers of language-planning seems to have
considered them worthy of sympathetic study.