Charles Randriamasimanana C.H.Rand at MASSEY.AC.NZ
Thu Nov 26 03:58:08 UTC 1998

Dear All,

I wholeheartedly agree with David's last remarks when he writes:

'...  In the countries I am familiar with, "educated" persons are chock
full of misconceived notions
that they have been taught about their languages, and therefore often make
worse informants than their uneducated counterparts.'

The situation in countries like Indonesia is obviously different from that
in French-speaking countries such as Madagascar --especially where the
local 'elite' is concerned. What I was talking about in the illustrative
example I gave previously was an extreme case: The 'speaker(s)' could not
really put words together into native-like utterances and which any real
native speakers would recognize immediately as such. Keep in mind that such
people usually speak French even among themselves in their daily lives and
within their families and have NEVER learned nor studied the 'native
language'. For the past four years I have been trying over the internet to
convince a few hundred so-called 'native speakers of Malagasy' living or
studying in overseas universities to use their native tongue instead of
using French exclusively. If you want, you can view some of the things I
told them in Malagasy at the following URL address:

If you want, this subcategory of people would be using some kind of
Foreigner Talk or worse a pidginized (creolized?)  version of the target
language. This is, for instance, what Pierre Verin (formerly of INALCO)
claims in his personal communication to Lee Haring in his book - VERBAL
ARTS IN MADAGASCAR. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press 1992
when he asserts that that the variety of 'Malagasy' some educated speakers
use shows sure signs of pidginization (or creolization) process at work in
the language!!!

Now, I am not really complaining about the informants since they are
by-products of a situation they and their parents have probably inherited
(and over which they are not likely to have much control over!). Rather I
am complaining about the system in place in some universities overseas
where quick-fix solutions tend to prevail and where they unwittingly allow
and favor the situation being described here to develop, i.e. taking sample
utterances from people who can hardly speak their 'native tongue' and then,
publicize that as representative of Malagasy language.

I hope the above explanations will clarify the matter under discussion here.



Charles Randriamasimanana, PhD in Linguistics
Linguistics, School of Language Studies
OMB 3.19
Massey University
Private Bag 11-222
Palmerston North
New Zealand

Telephone: (06)-356-9099, Extension 7059
Personal fax: (06) 359-3989

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