nomadderwhere

Let’s Speak Haitian Creole!

My first language post arose from a desire to document and transmit the full experience of being in a relatively unknown culture: tribal Fiji. I didn’t expect many people to find such a write-up relevant, but it dawned on me after hundreds of hits that lesser-known languages need some limelight, too.

One could travel to Haiti and speak French; there would be virtually no gap in communication. But, I didn’t have the luxury of French and instead opted for downloading some free software to learn Haitian Creole. Because I’ve spent the last eleven years learning languages that pack very few superfluous letters, the concept of learning French and not pronouncing half a word seemed absurdoix. Creole being a mix of many languages, including Arabic, Spanish, Taíno, and some African languages, it reads more phonetically and becomes more accessible than its’ base.

Visit Haiti. And when you do, use your Creole. In the meantime, I’m going to attempt to process my four day rare experience through Port-au-Prince, the Central Plateau, and Jacmèl.

The Basics

Alo: Hello
Bonjou: Good morning
Kòman ou ye (pronounced co-mah-oo-ee): How are you?
Mwen trè byen, mèsi: I’m fine, thank you.
Mwen rele Lindsay: My name is Lindsay.
Good evening: Bonswa
Eskize mwen: Excuse me/Sorry
Mwen regrèt sa: I’m sorry.
Wi: Yes
Non: No
Mèsi: Thank you
Tanpri: Please
Goodbye: Orevwa

Getting Around

Ou ka ede mwen? Can you help me?
Kijan pou mwen ale nan…? How to get to…?
Direksyon: direction
Mize: museum
Taksi: taxi
Otèl: hotel
Kafe: café
Mache (pronounced mah-shay): to walk
Mwen ta renmen peye ak kat kredi: I would like to pay with credit card.
Ayewopò: airport
Estasyon: station
Mwen gen kèk kesyon: I have some questions.
Rezèvasyon: reservation
Mwen pèdi: I am lost.
Ki kote li…? Where is…?
Mwen bezwen èd: I need help.
Non ri a: street name
Gichè otomatik: ATM

Conversation

Kijan ou rele? What is your name?
Ki laj ou? How old are you?
Mwen se ameriken: I am American.
Mwen ta renmen…: I would like…
Ki lè li fè? What time is it?

Learning While Speaking

Mwen pa konprann: I don’t understand.
M ap aprann Kreyòl: I’m learning Creole.
Pale Angle (pronounced pah-lee ahn-gleh): to speak English
Mwen vle aprann Kreyòl: I want to learn Creole.
Mwen pa konnen: I don’t know.
Mwen pa te konnen li: I didn’t know that.
Sa bon pou konnen: That’s good to know.
Tradui: to translate
Mwen pa ka li Kreyòl: I can’t read Creole.
Li difisil pou mwen pale Kreyòl: Speaking Creole is difficult for me.
Ou trè sèvyab: You are very helpful.
Mèsi pou fason ou ede m avèk Kreyòl mwen: Thank you for helping me with my Creole.
Kòman yo di…an Kreyòl? How do you say…in Creole?
Sa sa vle di…? What does…mean?
Mwen ap sonje: I will remember that

Numbers

Youn: one
De: two
Twa: three
Kat: four
Senk: five
Sis: six
Sèt: seven
Uit: eight
Nèf: nine
Dis: ten
Onz: eleven

Time

Jodi a (all ‘di’s are pronounced tzi): today
Demen: tomorrow
Ayè: yesterday
Midi: noon
Lendi: Monday
Madi: Tuesday
Mèkredi: Wednesday
Jedi: Thursday
Vandredi: Friday
Samdi: Saturday
Dimanch: Sunday

Develop Vocabulary

Etazini: United States
Tanperati: temperature
Vyann poul: chicken
Pwason: fish
Vyann bèf: beef
Dlo: water
Byè: beer
Soulye: shoes
Manto: coat
Chapo: hat
Grangou: hungry
Vit: quickly
Bra: arm
Janm: leg
Tèt: head
Lajan: money

And once again, you’re now as fluent as I am! Doesn’t take much. Put your skills to use and visit. It’s the best way to learn a new language, and it’s something Haiti needs: your presence to develop an honest perspective on a country that is richer than we recognize.

All photos © ProjectExplorer.org, 2011

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  • http://www.mybeautifuladventures.com Andi of My Beautiful Adventures

    I fell in love with Creole years ago listening to Wyclef rap in it haha. I loved this post!

    • http://nomadderwhere.com Lindsay Clark

      Thank you! I have never heard him rap in Creole…to the Grooveshark!

  • dimitri civil

    you guys are cute lol fell in love with creole ahahah sa belle ampil :)

  • Malika

    Omg it´s so similar to french….

    • http://www.nomadderwhere.com Lindsay Clark

      It really is, and for those of us who didn’t learn French in any formal setting, it makes French seem so much more accessible. Poisson vs. pwason…see? ;)