Haitian Creole language

Haitian Creole language

name=Haitian Creole
nativename=Kreyòl ayisyen
=Créole Haïtien
states=Haiti (Official), Bahamas, Dominican Republic, French Guiana [http://www.rosettaproject.org/archive/hat/view?searchterm=Haitian%20Creole]
speakers= Approximately 12 millionFact|date=February 2007
fam1=Creole language
fam2=French Creole
fam3=Antillean Creoles

Haitian Creole language ("kreyòl ayisyen"), often called simply Creole or Kreyòl (pronounced IPA| [kʁejɔl] ), is a language spoken in Haiti by about 8.5 million people (as of 2005), which is nearly the entire population, and via emigration, about 3.5 million speakers who live in other countries, including Canada, the United States, Venezuela, France, and many Caribbean nations, especially the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and the Bahamas. The language is notable for being the most widely spoken creole language in the world. [http://www.indiana.edu/~creole/creolenatllangofhaiti.html]

Haitian Creole is one of Haiti's two official languages, along with French. It is a creole based primarily on 18th Century French, but it also contains various influences, notably West African and Central African languages (from the 18th century, including some Arabic), Taino, Portuguese, Spanish, and some English. African and French influence is strongest, as those were the two populations in contact during the development of Creole.

Residents of French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Lucia and Dominica also speak Creole, with some local variations.

In part because of the efforts of Félix Morisseau-Leroy, since 1961 Haitian Creole has been recognized as an official language along with French, which had been the sole literary language of the country since its independence in 1804. The official status was upheld under the country's constitution of 1987. The use of Creole in literature has been small but is increasing. Morisseau was one of the first and most influential authors to write in Creole. Many speakers are trilingual, speaking Haitian Creole, French and Spanish or English. Since the 1980s, many educators, writers and activists have emphasized pride and written literacy in Creole. Today numerous newspapers, as well as radio and television programs, are produced in Creole.


The origins of Haitian creole are disputed - it is a subject that has fascinated scholars for decades.In part, Creole resulted from African slaves' efforts to speak the French that they heard when they arrived in the colony. Slaves came from all over West Africa and spoke many different languages. On any one plantation, several African languages were spoken. Also at that time, most of the French people in Saint-Domingue spoke French dialects and everyday spoken French. That type of French, called Popular (common people's) French, differed a lot from the French spoken by the ruling classes in France called Standard French. The slaves, seldom able to communicate with fellow slaves in a common African tongue, tried to learn Popular French. Slaves who arrived later, especially field slaves who had little contact with French speakers, tried to learn the approximative variety of Popular French the other slaves spoke rather than Popular French itself. Over time, this approximative form of French became more and more different from the French varieties and came to be recognized as a language in its own right: Creole. It is also interesting that it was picked up by the whites and became the language used by all those born in the colony. Over 90% of the vocabulary of Creole is of French origin, yet French people can't understand Creole. This is because the grammars of the two languages are very different. Also, Creole has kept the original meaning of Popular French words whereas in France these words were replaced by words from Standard French, and some Popular French words changed their meaning. A good example is the sentence "Ki jan ou rele?" or "What is your name?" which corresponds to French Comment vous appelez-vous? Although a French person wouldn't understand that phrase, every word is of French origin: qui/what, genre/manner, vous/you, héler/to call or "What manner call (yourself)?". In France, the verb héler has been replaced by appeler. [http://www.ahadonline.org/eLibrary/creoleconnection/Number20/haitiancreole.htm] [http://www.indiana.edu/~creole/creolenatllangofhaiti.html]

Usage outside of Haiti

Haitian Creole is used widely among Haitians who have relocated to other countries, particularly the United States and Canada. Some of the larger population centers include Montreal, Quebec, where French is the official language, and parts of New York City, Boston, Central and South Florida: (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach). To reach the large Haitian population, government agencies have produced various public service announcements, school-parent communications, and other materials in Haitian Creole. For instance, Miami-Dade County in Florida sends out paper communications in Haitian Creole in addition to English and Spanish. In the Boston area, the Boston subway system and area hospitals and medical offices post announcements in Haitian Creole as well as English. North America's only Creole-language television network is HTN, based in Miami. The area also has more than half a dozen Creole-language AM radio stations.

There is controversy over whether to teach Creole in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Many argue Creole is a peasant language that is not fully developed for literary purposes; others argue it is important for children to learn a written form of their parents' native tongue.

Haitian Creole language and culture is taught in many colleges in the United States as well as in the Bahamas. Indiana University has a Creole Institute [http://www.indiana.edu/~creole/] founded by Dr. Albert Valdman where Haitian Creole, among other facets of Haiti, are studied and researched; the University of Kansas, Lawrence has an Institute of Haitian studies, founded by Dr. Bryant Freeman. Additionally, the University of Massachusetts-Boston, Florida International University, and University of Florida offer seminars and courses annually at their Haitian Creole Summer Institute. Brown University, Columbia University, and University of Miami are also offering classes in Haitian Creole.

In the Americas, Haitian Creole is the second most spoken language in Cuba, where over 300,000 Haitian immigrants speak it. It is recognized as a language in Cuba and a considerable number of Cubans speak it fluently. Surprisingly enough, most of these speakers have never been to Haiti and do not possess Haitian ancestry, but merely learned it in their communities. In addition, there is a Haitian Creole radio station operating in Havana. [ [http://www.afrocubaweb.com/haiticuba.htm Haiti in Cuba] ] The language is also spoken by over 150,000 Haitians (although estimates believe that there are over a million speakers due to a huge population of illegal aliens from Haiti [ [http://dr1.com/news/2005/dnews081605.shtml#13 Dr1.com: Illegal Haitians deported] ] ) who reside in the neighboring Dominican Republic. [ [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=DO Languages of Dominican Republic] ]

Orthography and phonology

Haitian Creole has ten vowels as opposed to standard French's twelve. This is primarily due to the loss of front rounded vowels. In Creole, these French phonemes are usually merged with their unrounded counterpart. Hence, IPA|/y/ becomes IPA|/i/ and IPA|/ø/ becomes IPA|/e/.

French's uvular rhotic either becomes an alveolar trill IPA|/r/, or IPA|/w/, or is elided altogether, depending on the environment.

Being formed relatively recently, Haitian Creole orthography is mostly phonemic, and is similar to the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The main differences are "j" = IPA|/ʒ/, "y" = IPA|/j/, "è" = IPA|/ɛ/, "ou" = IPA|/u/. Nasalization is indicated by a following "n".


Most of the lexicon is derived from French, with significant changes in pronunciation and morphology. Often, the French definite article was retained as part of the noun. For example, the French definite article "la" in "la lune" ("the moon") was incorporated into the Creole noun for moon: "lalin".



Possession is indicated by placing the possessor after the item possessed. This is similar to the French construction of "chez moi" or "chez lui" which are "my place" and "his place", respectively.

If the last sound is an oral consonant and is preceded by a nasal vowel, it becomes "lan":

If the last sound is a nasal vowel, it becomes "an":

As in English, it may also be used as a pronoun, replacing a noun:

The subject "sa" or "li" can sometimes be omitted with "se":

The verb "to be" is not overt when followed by an adjective, that is, Haitian Creole has stative verbs. So, "malad" means "sick" and "to be sick":

"to know"

There are three verbs which are often translated as "to know", but they mean different things.

"Konn" or "konnen" means "to know" + a noun (cf. French "connaître").

Another verb worth mentioning is "fè". It comes from the French "faire" and is often translated as "do" or "make". It has a broad range of meanings, as it is one of the most common verbs used in idiomatic phrases.

Note that when the basic form of action verbs is used without any verb markers, it is generally understood as referring to the past:

(Note that "manje" means both "food" and "to eat" -- "m ap manje bon manje" means "I am eating good food".).

For other tenses, special "tense marker" words are placed before the verb. The basic ones are:

Simple past or past perfect:

:"mwen te manje" - "I ate" or "I had eaten":"ou te manje" - "you ate" or "you had eaten":"li te manje" - "he/she ate" or "he/she had eaten":"nou te manje" - "we ate" or "we had eaten":"yo te manje" - "they ate" or "they had eaten"

Past progressive:

:"men t ap manje" - "I was eating":"ou t ap manje" - "you were eating":"li t ap manje" - "he/she was eating":"nou t ap manje" - "we were eating":"yo t ap manje" - "they were eating"

Present progressive:

:"m ap manje" - "I am eating":"w ap manje" - "you are eating":"l ap manje" - "he/she is eating":"n ap manje" - "we are eating":"y ap manje" - "they are eating"

Note: For the present progressive ("I am eating now") it is customary, though not necessary, to add "right now": :"M ap manje kounye a" - "I am eating right now"

Near or definite future:

:"mwen pral manje" - "I am going to eat":"ou pral manje" - "you are going to eat":"li pral manje" - "he/she is going to eat":"nou pral manje" - "we are going to eat":"yo pral manje" - "they are going to eat"


:"N a wè pita" - "See you later" (lit. "We will see (each other) later)

Other examples::"Mwen te wè zanmi ou yè" - "I saw your friend yesterday":"Nou te pale lontan" - "We spoke for a long time":"Lè li te gen uit an..." - "When he was eight years old...":"M a travay" - "I will work":"M pral travay" - "I'm going to work":"N a li l demen" - "We'll read it tomorrow":"Nou pral li l demen" - "We are going to read it tomorrow":"Mwen t ap mache e m wè yon chyen" - "I was walking and I saw a dog"

Additional time-related markers::"fèk" - recent past ("just"):"sòt" - similar to "fèk"They are often used together::"Mwen fèk sòt antre kay la" - "I just entered the house"

A verb mood marker is "ta", corresponding to English "would" and equivalent to the French conditional tense::"Yo ta renmen jwe" - "They would like to play":"Mwen ta vini si mwen te gen yon machin" - "I would come if I had a car":"Li ta bliye w si ou pa t la" - "He/she would forget you if you weren't here"

Negating the verb

The word "pa" comes before a verb (and all tense markers) to negate it::"Woz pa vle ale" - "Rose doesn't want to go":"Woz pa t vle ale" - "Rose didn't want to go"

List of Haitian Creole words

"See also Haitian Creole Swadesh list

*"yon anana" - a pineapple (from Arawak, "anana" and now used in France "ananas")
*"Anakaona" - ? (from Arawak, "Anacaona", who was a Taino princess)
*"anpil" - a lot, many (from Fr. "en pile", lit. in piles, in great amounts)
*"aprann" - to learn
*"yon bannann" - plantain
*"bat" - to whup
*"yon batay" - a fight, a battle
*"yon goumen" - a fight (most popular)
*"batay" - to fight, to battle
*"goumen" - to fight
*"yon bebe" - a baby
*"bonjou" - good day / good morning
*"bonswa" - good evening (bonswa is typically said after 12:00 noon or at sundown)
*"boukousou" - a type of bean
*"boul, balon" - a ball
*"Byensi" - "Of course" (from Fr. "Bien sûr")
*"chadèk" - grapefruit (from Fr. Chadèque or pamplemousse)
*"chante" - to sing
*"yon chanson" - a song
*"yon chan" - a song, a chant
*"cheri" - darling
*"cho" - hot (also used as an adj. i.e. "Fi sa a cho anpil", That lady's really hot!Or this girl is rude;slutty.)
*"doudou" - sweetheart
*"dous" - sweet
*"yon dous" - a cookie (food)
*"enpe dlo" - some water
*"yon fanmi" - a family
*"fè" - to make / to do
*"yon fèt" - a party / a birthday
*"yon fig" - a banana
*"fòl" - crazy, only in reference to women (a crazy person - yon moun fou (fòl))
*"fou" - crazy, for reference to either gender (a crazy person - yon moun fou (fòl))
*"fou" - stove
*"gade" - to look (at), to watch (to watch TV - gade TV)
*"garde" - to guard
*"yon gardyen" - a guardian
*"yon gardyen bu" - a goal keeper
*"gato" - a cake
*"gwayav" - guava fruit
*"gwo" - big; also, to be fat ("li gwo", he is fat or big.)
*"enpe kafe" - some coffee
*"kaka" - feces
*"yon kann" - a sugar cane
*"yon kenèp" - Mamoncillo a.k.a. Spanish lime
*"kijan" - how
*"kisa" - what
*"kibò, kikote" - where
*"kimoun" - who
*"ki, ke" - that (conj.)
*"kite mwen" - leave me / leave me alone
*"kite mwen ale" - let me go
*"yon kochon" - a pig
*"yon kokoye" - a coconut
*"konprann/komprann" - to understand
*"kouman/kijan ou rele?" - what is your name?
*"kòm" - as
*"kòman/kijan" - how
*"kounyèa" - now ex: "vini kounye a" (come here now)
*"yon kowosòl/kosòl" - Soursop a.k.a Corossol
*"yon kreyon" - a pencil
*"yon kwafè" - a barber
*"la" - here / the
*"lant/lan" - slow
*"lanse" - to launch
*"yon lougawou" - a werewolf, bad witch
*"yon mambo/manbo" - a female witch
*"yon bòkò/ongan" - a male witch
*"yon majisyen" - a magician
*"yon machin" - a car
*"yon makak" - a monkey
*"yon manyòk" - Cassava a.k.a. manioc
*"manje" - to eat / food (both noun and verb)
*"enpe manje" - some food
*"mèg" - skinny
*"mèsi/mèrsi" - thank you
*"yon moun" - a person
*"kèk moun" - some people (the indefinite article plural form)
*"move" - bad (move moun - bad person)
*"move" - fighty (a person that is ready to fight or beat someone up)
*"pale/parle" - to talk / to speak
*"yon pánye" - a basket
*"yon pitit" - a child (a father or mother: my child)
*"yon pitit fi" - a daughter
*"yon pitit gason" - a son
*"yon pitit pitit" - a grand child
*"pwa" - bean
*"ki pèz ou (genyen)?"- what is your weight?
*"peze" - to press (press a button), to weigh (this weighs two liters)
*"yon pyebwa" - tree (lit. wood foot, from Fr. pied de bois)
*"sa bon pou ou" - that's what you get
*"yon sache/sachè" - a bag
*"sa (è) bon pour ou" - that's good for you
*"sa ka fèt / sa k ap fèt" - how's it going?
*"sa k pase" - what's up?
*"yon sirèt" - a candy
*"tankou" - like (conj.)
*"yon timoun" - a kid ("little person")
*"yon granmoun" - an adult
*"tombe" - to fall
*"toutouni" - naked
*"yon vòlè" - a thief
*"vòlè" - to steal
*"yon vòl" - a theft, an aeroplane flight ("ki vòl ou ape pran" - what flight are you taking?)
*"pran vòl" - to take off (an airplane)
*"yon avyon" - an airplane
*"vole" - to jump or fly
*"yon zaboka" - Avocado
*"zobogit" - to be skinny
*"yon zonbi/zombi" - a ghost (from Africa, "zombi")


*"zero" - 0
*"yonn, en" - 1
*"de, dez" - 2
*"twa" - 3
*"kat, katr" - 4
*"senk" - 5
*"sis" - 6
*"sèt" - 7
*"uit, ywit" - 8
*"nèf" - 9
*"dis" - 10
*"onz" - 11
*"douz" - 12
*"trèz" - 13
*"katòz" - 14
*"kenz" - 15
*"sèz" - 16
*"disèt" - 17
*"dizwit" - 18
*"diznèf" - 19
*"ven, vent" - 20
*"venteyen, vent-yonn"- 21
*"vennde, vent-dez" - 22
*"venntwa, vent-twa" - 23

*"trant" - 30
*"tranteyen, trant-yonn" - 31
*"trannde" - 32
*"tranntwa" - 33

*"karant" - 40
*"karanteyen, karant-yonn"- 41
*"karannde" - 42
*"karanntwa" - 43

*"senkant" - 50
*"swasant" - 60
*"swasenndis" - 70
*"swasenteyonz"- 71
*"swasenndouz"- 72
*"swasenntrèz"- 73

*"katreven, katrevent" - 80
*"katrevendis, katreven-dis"- 90
*"katrevenonz, katreven-onz"- 91
*"katrevendouz"- 92
*"katreventrèz"- 93

*"san" - 100
*"san en, san yonn" - 101
*"san dis" - 110
*"de san, dez san" - 200
*"de san ven" - 220
*"twa san" - 300
*"kat san" - 400
*"senk san" - 500
*"si san" - 600
*"sèt san" - 700
*"ui(t) san" - 800
*"nèf san" - 900

*"nèf san katrevendisèt" - 997
*"nèf san katrevendizuit" - 998
*"nèf san katrevendiznèf" - 999

*"mil" - 1000
*"de mil" - 2000
*"senk mil" - 5000
*"di mil" - 10 000
*"san mil" - 100 000
*"1 milyon" - 1 000 000, 1 million
*"1 bilyon" - 1 000 000 000, 1 billion


External links

* [http://www.kreyol.com/creole-dictionary/ Haitian Creole dictionary] (Haitian Community Dictionary Project)
* [http://www.kreyol.com/dictionary/ Haitian Creole dictionary]
* [http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/hat1.htm UN Declaration of Human Rights in Haitian Creole]
* [http://www.rfi.fr/fichiers/Langues/creole/rfi_creole_main.asp RFI — Kréyòl Palé Kréyòl Konprann (radio program)]
* [http://www.travelinghaiti.com/haitian_kreyol.asp Common Creole Words and Phrases]
* [http://www.transparent.com/tlquiz/lwquiz/Haitian_Creole/tlhait.htm Haitian Creole online test]
* [http://www.geocities.com/frenchcreoles/kreyol/ Haitian Kréyòl grammar]
* [http://www.ahadonline.org/eLibrary/creoleconnection/Number20/haitiancreole.htm What is Haitian Creole? (By Hugues St.Fort)]
* [http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/translation/Haitian+Creole/ Haitian Creole English Dictionary] from [http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org Webster's Online Dictionary] - the Rosetta Edition
* [http://haitianproverbs.com Haitian Proverbs]
* [http://www.masterches.net/ Projects in Haitian Creole]
* [http://akademi.ayisyen.net Unofficial Haitian creole Academy-Masterches initiative]

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