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the reading of creole for the older Haitians

Posted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 8:32 pm
by Dr Roger Malebranche
I left Haiti in 1961 and despite my great desire to return to my native land... vacation, retirement, investment etc... I have not been able to do so. Different regimes, crimes, kidnappings, insecurity. I try to keep in touch with Haiti by regularly visiting WINDOWS. I have found that the reading of creole is quite difficult ( to me anyway ) even if I was raised speaking creole, and I find myself bypassing the creole entries to find the English and French ones. Am I the only one ? I am too ancient to go to school to learn a language that I always felt was my native one. Any word of advice ? Any easy solution ?

Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:38 am
by Serge
Dr Malebranche,

Do not think you are unique in this situation. There are still many Haitians who find kreyòl difficult to read and write. The problem stems from the fact that in your time - and mine-, kreyòl was not taught anywhere and was looked upon as something vulgar. You know about the social prejudices in our sociey.

Learning kreyòl nowadays is no more difficult than learning any other foreign language. There are plenty of books to learn the ABC of Haitian kreyòl; the grammar and the syntax are set; the orthography is largely set. What is needed on your part is patience, discipline and determination to learn. I spoke kreyòl when I came to this country of course, but I did not know how to write it either and I had enormous difficulty to read it. I taught myself with the brochure called 'Bon nouvèl' prepared by the late Paul Déjan and Father Antoine Adrien. Since, I read it fine, write without problem and translate into it.

So, if you were able to become a medical doctor, this means you have the discipline required to do the same thing with the process of learning kreyòl. So do not be discouraged, pa dekouraje. Find on the Internet some kreyòl learning books, set a schedule to study, say one hour everyday, while at the same time practicing by reading on Windows and other sources like the last 2 pages of Haiti en Marche. Before you know it, you will be up and running.

Good luck and bonne besogne! Kenbe fèm!


Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 10:46 am
by Guysanto
Serge, it's not even as difficult as that. Dr. Malebranche already speaks Kreyol fluently. In addition, from what I have heard, he's been one of the most brilliant surgeons to come out of Haiti. Granted, a surgeon does not a linguist make, but Pwofesè Pistach guarantees the proper spelling of Kreyol in only one hour to any surgeon who removes in him the fear of ANY SURGERY. I talked to Pwofesè Pistach this morning, and that's what he said. One hour, that's all he needs! Now what could Dr. Roger Malebranche say about the fear of blood, the fear of needles, the fear of cutting? Those must be far more insidious than the purely preemptive and unnecessary fear of learning to spell a language that one already speaks fluently and quite naturally.

The spelling of Kreyol is the simplest of all other languages that I know. You think that it's going to be like drinking a half-cup of senna or codfish oil or papaya seeds. It turns out to be like a teaspoon of honey or pure Canadian Maple Syrup and you only end up asking for more.

Pwofesè Pistach stands ready.

Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 6:25 pm
by Dr Roger Malebranche
Merci Serge, Merci Guy :

J'ai laisse notre pays un jeune homme de 27 ans, plein de reves et de force, avec 100% l'intention de revoir notre paradis apres deux ou trois ans dans ce purgatoire Americain. C'etait en 1961, et 47 ans plus tard l'annee 2008 vient d'ouvrir sa porte. Je me souviens du poeme de Du Bellay :" Heureux qui comme Ulysse a fait un beau voyage ou comme cestuy-la qui conquit la toison " etc..., et malgre ma nationalite Americaine (Pour pratiquer la chirurgie il me fut OBLIGE de la prendre), malgre ma femme et mes enfants Americains, pas un jour ne passe sans pour moi penser a retourner dans mon pays bien aime. J'ai dit a mon fils, qui pratique la medecine a Emory (Atlanta), que mes cendres doivent etre dispersees apres ma mort sur une plage de Port a Piment dans le Sud de notre pays.

Meme si mon reve ne se realise pas je vous remercie pour les conseils amicaux et je vais " google 'Creole' " pour trouver les moyens literaires de moderniser une langue que pour trop longtemps j'ai considere "pitit deyò".

Je vous prie d'excuser les fautes de syntaxe et d'orthographe. Mes occasions de parler et d'ecrire Francais sont rarissimes.

Et bien merci pour les encouragements.

Haitiennement votre:

Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 7:33 pm
by Serge
Dr Malebranche,

N'oubliez pas qu'il n'est jamais trop tard pour bien faire. Comme je l'ai dit dans mon message, il y a plein de références facilement accessibles et avec Guy à la barre, les conseils et recommandations abondent.

J'espère que vous nous tiendrez au courant de vos progrès et que très bientôt, nous pourrons vous lire en kreyòl sur le forum.

Nap tan nouvèl ou.


Posted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 7:07 am
by Guysanto
Dr. Malebranche,

We hear you loud and clear. What you may not know however is that not too long ago, most of the prolific "Kreyol" (Haitian Creole) writers on the forum were exactly in the same boat that you are in now. The trip from one river bank (writing Kreyol in a 'horribly Frenchy' sort of way) to the other river bank (writing 'Kreyol' or 'Haitian!' in the officially adopted spelling of our National language) is mercifully short.

What are the Official Languages of Haiti? French and Haitian Creole (Kreyol) - or - Haitian Creole and French, if you prefer. In official practice, it's French first, then Haitian (because we are far from being an independent-minded people, as our History would suggest.) Only one Haitian in five, six or seven, can speak French fluently and write it accordingly. But Haitians often prefer to ridicule themselves with badly spoken and written French than to admit that they really do not know well the language of their former colonial masters. Should they learn it? Of course! French is one of the two official languages of Haiti and will remain so for a long time, unless the influence of the U.S. educated diaspora becomes so great that English eventually overtake it. It pays to speak French in Haiti and outside of it. One needs French to navigate the upper echelons of Haitian society. The perfectly tooled Haitian, linguistically speaking, is one who speaks well four languages: Haitian (Kreyol), French, Spanish, and English. The learning of all languages should be encouraged, because the knowledge of any language opens doors at times that you least suspect it, even Haitian Creole! At this moment, there is increasingly a number of U.S. Americans who are gainfully employed, due to their (sometimes limited) knowledge of Haitian Creole. In Universities across the U.S., you will find American citizens teaching Haitian Creole to Haitian Nationals. I am not kidding you. By neglecting Haitian Creole as one of our KEY languages, we are simply giving our lunches away. French is one of our two official languages. By all means, we should keep in mind that it is important to speak it well and to to write it well, but we do have a leg up when it comes to Haitian Creole, because most of us think naturally in Kreyol first!!! If I decide to learn Russian, I am not going to reject my knowledge of English for the sake of learning Russian. If I decide to learn how to write correctly the orthography of my native language (or one my native languages), this does not in any way imply that I have to sacrifice what I already know of another. Once you master the intricacies of speaking and writing one language (any language), it's always easier to do so with another (again, any language)... because we are dealing with the same brain cells. I will only concede one thing, it's that it is decidedly easier to learn a new language when you are young. But amazingly, some old dogs are always learning new tricks.

What IS the National Language of Haiti? Only one! It's often referred to as 1) Creole; 2) Kreyol or Kreyòl; 3) Haitian Creole; 4) Haitian. This is a matter of debate, and in my view it's not all that important. I prefer to avoid the first and third options. I speak Haitian. I speak Kreyol. I write it as well. And so will any Haitian who truly cares.

Why is 'Kreyol' the only National Language of Haiti? The answer is very simple: That is the only language universally spoken by Haitians. Only 20% (more or less) Haitians have the advantage of speaking French on top of it. How many of those 20% can write French without making embarrassing mistakes? Only a minority of that. True, a minority of the minority of the minority can not only dazzle you and any French person with their sterling French, but they could easily represent Haiti as a Francophone country in any French Literary Circle (and perhaps even at the "Académie Française"). In fact, I have no doubt about that. But what does such prowess do for the millions of us who do not speak French at all or can only express ourselves in it badly, often very badly, in Haitian Web Forums? As far as I can tell, they only polarize our fractured society even further. I wish that were not the case, because I like to see Haitians succeed in all human endeavors, even literary ones. But those who succeed in being bright French speakers, why do they often become so disdainful of their true national heritage?

When did the current rules of writing Kreyol become official??? Hold on to your hat! The answer is January 1980. Twenty-eight (28) years ago!!!!!

Numerous books (Too Many To Count) have been written, based on the official writing standards. Unfortunately, most of them are out-of-print after a year or so. Haitians produce books the way they produce music albums, in very limited quantities. Economically, they cannot do better at this point. There is not enough demand. However, this does not stem our creativity. We keep writing new books all the time, selling at most a few hundreds (if that!) before we go back to the task of writing new ones, hoping to find a new generation of readers willing to buy the books the next time around.

What's the best place to find Haitian Creole books (of all genres) in the U.S. ? Libreri Mapou in Little Haiti, Miami. Check Jan Mapou's website at . The website does not entirely reflect the great diversity of books that can be found at the store itself. If you ever make it to Miami, make Libreri Mapou a MUST STOP.

What about other areas of high Haitian concentration like New York / New Jersey, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Montreal etc.? The readers of this post are welcome to let us know their favorite Haitian bookstores.

It goes without saying that any book written in Haitian should be more easily available in Haiti. At least, I would like to think so.

One book I highly recommend (if still available) : "Viv Bondye, aba Relijyon" by Jafrikayiti, who is a member of this board. The title loosely translates to: "YES to God, NO to Religion". Aside from the content which is challenging, whether or not you end up agreeing (or vehemently disagreeing) with the celebrated and distinguished author, it is a pleasurable way of getting acquainted with the standards of Kreyol writing. That being said, the members of this forum could probably recommend dozens more.

The Haitian Language is here to stay. That is truly no longer a matter of debate. School systems in the United States are adopting it as an alternative language. Even though Haitians are not ready to abandon French (and why should they?), Haitian is gaining in influence. They now teach it in almost all schools in Haiti. On paper, it looks much better than the badly written French we observe daily in Haitian Web space. Why is that? Simple! For the vast majority of us, French is only our forced heritage, our mental conditioning. We have not adapted to it as well as we should have, because French is undeniably a beautiful and most useful language. After 350 years of French influence, we still for the most part speak and write second-rate French, except for the most educated among us. Luckily for us though, we can hold our own in "Haitian" (or "Kreyol" or "Haitian Creole"). Unless we decide once more to let "Haiti Experts" eat our lunch, as we've always done.

Not if I can help it...

Where do we start?

May I suggest : ... asil.shtml

Best of luck,

P.S. Pwofesè Pistach and I stand ready to help you along the way.

Posted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 2:49 pm
by Serge
Guy, I say amen to a lot of what you said. Dr Malebranche shoud understand that it is never too late for one to educate himself or herself.
To add to all you said about the way Haitian Kreyòl is being studied by non-Haitians, while our own compatriots, unfortunately, refuse to aknowledge that and who write it badly, Dr Malbranche might be interested to know that a few months ago, I ordered 3 Haitian Kreyòl - English dictionaries: A Medical Dictionary by Maude Heurtelou and Féquière Vilsaint; The Oxford Picture Dictionary and the Science Dictionary by Maude Heurtelou and Féquière Vilsaint. For Oxford to show such interest to the point of publishing a dicitonary like this, is proof enough of the value of Haitian Kreyòl, contrary to what some Haitians seem to think by refusing to write the language properly. In that respect, I point fingers towards too many of our artist musicians who write such horrible Kreyòl on their CDs. This is an absolute shame!.

Guy, some years ago, I bought in Haiti a "Diksyonè Ayisyen - Mo sans tokay", by Prophète Joseph. Yoy probably know about it if you do not have it already. It is excellent!

By the way, I have an inquiry for whoever uses Windows Vista. There is something I would like to verify. Someone told me that Bill gates has included Haitian Kreyòl spelling in its dictionaries of language. I would like to know if that is true. In the affirmative, it would be a huge step forward for our language.

Kenbe la!


Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:05 am
by Bouli

Ou ta renmen ekri kreyòl nan 5 minit. Le w fini, pase nan lakou sa: