November 16, 2010

untie me barry!

A munanga friend was telling me a funny story the other day, which I hope she doesn't mind me repeating here.

She got a text message from a Kriol-speaking relative but she didn't know who it was from. The number wasn't stored in her phone. So she replied with a 'who's this?' type message and then the reply came...

"untie me barry"

This SMS caused quite a bit of confusion. Untie him? Why, what's happened? Has he been locked up? Is someone holding him captive? Knowing that Kriol speakers are susceptible to not expressing themselves perfectly clearly over text messages, she didn't completely panic. But still... 'untie me barry'?

After going back to the message about 5 times, finally it clicked. My friend was reading the stress wrong and the sender was using non-English spelling to show that he was 'writing' in Kriol. She finally decoded the message:

Aunty! Me, Barry!

Which in standard Kriol spelling, would read: Anti, mi, Barry.)

Too funny!

I love that Kriol speakers are getting into new literacy practices like you find in text messaging, email and facebook. These writing forms have a lot more in common with spoken language than traditional writing forms like letter-writing and prose do. So naturally, Kriol speakers want to capture Kriol in their text messages. But unless you've learned the standard writing system (only some have), then you just have to approximate and do the best you can. In terms of language development, this is exciting because it may mean that new standardised spellings may evolve, naturally.

But in the meantime, Barry's Aunty is happy that Barry isn't tied up at all. And next time he's texts her, she'll know who it is...

1 comment:

Sebastien Lacrampe said...

"And next time HE'S text her, she'll know who it is..."

Glad to see that you too are getting into interesting uses of the apostrophe!

See's ya's!