Afro-American Folksongs - online book

A Study In Racial And National Music, With Sample Sheet Music & Lyrics.

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SONGS OF THE BLACK CREOLES
In many cases the verbs eto be' {etre) and 'to have' {avoir) disappear: Li vaillan (il est vaillant); Li pas peur (il n'a pas peur). In French the negative particles are over­abundant; it is one of the faults of the language. In the phrase 'II n'a pas peur' there are two negatives, cne' and 'pas.' The Creole uses only one and says in three words what the speaker of French says in five. The difference is still more apparent in the phrases "Je commence a etre fatigue; je crois qu'il est temps de nous en retourner"— fourteen words; Mo comance lasse; mo ere tan nou tournin —eight. Moreover, fleetness is acquired by the suppression of the preposition 'a' and the conjunction 'que.' "
Obeying the law of laziness, or following the line of least resistance, the Creole elides the letters which are difficult of pronunciation, or substitutes easy ones for them. The letter r is as difficult for the negro as it is for the Chinaman; he elides it and says pou for pour, ape for apres, di for dire, cate for quatre. In Martinique, if I am to judge by my songs, when he does not dispense with the letter altogether he gives it a soft sound, like an in­fusion of w into on: ouoche for roche. The French sound of u is as difficult for the negro as it is for the Ameri­can or Englishman; he does not struggle with it, but sub­stitutes the short sound of i: torti for tortue, jige for juge, or he uses the continental sound (oo): la nouite for la nuit, tou souite for tout de suite. Eu he changes to ai, as in air; lonair for Phonneur;/ and g giving him trouble, he changes them to z: touzou for tou jours, zamais for jamais, manze for mange. He has no use for the first person pronoun "je," mo sufficing him; and "tu" he replaces with to and tot. Words which are too long to suit his convenience he abbreviates at pleasure: barace, embarrasse; pele, appele; bite, oublie.
Thus, then, grew the pretty language, soft in the mouth of the Creole as bella lingua in bocca toscana, in which the Creole sang of his love, gave rhythmical impulse to the dance, or scourged with satire those who fell under his displeasure—the uses to which the music was put which I purpose now to discuss. It should be borne in mind that
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III