|9.6 million (2007)|
|Latin (Haitian Creole alphabet)|
Official language in
|Regulated by||Akademi Kreyòl Ayisyen|
Location of Haiti
Haitian Creole (/ /; Haitian Creole: Kreyòl ayisyen; French: Créole haïtien), commonly referred to as simply Creole, is a French-based creole language spoken by 10–12 million people worldwide, and is one of the two official languages of Haiti, where it is the native language of a majority of the population.
The language emerged from contact between French settlers and enslaved Africans during the Atlantic slave trade in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). Although its vocabulary largely derives from 18th-century French, its grammar is that of a West African Volta-Congo language branch, particularly the Fon language and Igbo language. It also has influences from Spanish, English, Portuguese, Taino, and other West African languages. It is not mutually intelligible with standard French, and has its own distinctive grammar. Haitians are the largest community in the world speaking a modern creole language.
Usage of, and education in, Haitian Creole has been contentious since at least the 19th century; some Haitians view French as a legacy of colonialism, while Creole was maligned by francophones as a miseducated person's French. Until the late 20th century, Haitian presidents spoke only standard French to their fellow citizens, and until the 2000s, all instruction at Haitian elementary schools was in modern standard French, a second language to most of their students.
The word creole comes from the Portuguese term crioulo, which means "a person raised in one's house", from the Latin creare, which means "to create, make, bring forth, produce, beget". It first referred to Europeans born and raised in overseas colonies. To be "as rich as a Creole" at one time was a popular saying boasted in Paris during the colonial years of Haiti, for being the most lucrative colony in the world. The noun Creole, soon began to refer to the language spoken there as well, as it still is today.
Haitian Creole contains elements from both the Romance group of Indo-European languages through its superstratum, French, as well as African languages. There are many theories on the formation of the Haitian Creole language.
One theory estimates that Haitian Creole developed between 1680 and 1740. During the 16th and 17th centuries, French and Spanish colonizers produced tobacco, cotton, and sugar cane on the island. Throughout this period, the population was made of roughly equal numbers of engagés (employed whites), gens de couleur libres and slaves. Singler estimates the economy shifted into sugar production in 1690, just before the French colony of Saint-Domingue was officially formed in 1697. The sugar crops needed a much larger labor force, which led to an increase in slave importation. In the 18th century an estimated 800,000 West-African individuals were enslaved and brought to Saint-Domingue. As the slave population increased, interactions between French-speaking colonists and slaves decreased.
Many African slaves in French ownership were from Niger-Congo-speaking territory, and particularly from Kwa languages such as Gbe and the Central Tano languages and Bantu languages. Singler suggests that the number of Bantu speakers decreased while the number of Kwa speakers increased, with Gbe being the most dominant group. The first fifty years of Saint‑Domingue's sugar boom coincided with emergent Gbe predominance in the French Caribbean. In the interval during which Singler hypothesizes the language evolved, the Gbe population was around 50% of the imported slave population.
In contrast to the African languages, a type of classical French (français classique) and langues d'oïl (Norman, Poitevin and Saintongeais dialects, Gallo and Picard) were spoken during the 17th and 18th centuries in Saint‑Domingue, as well as in New France and French West Africa. Slaves who seldom could communicate with fellow slaves would try to learn French. With the constant importation of slaves, the language gradually became formalized and became a distinct tongue to French. The language was also picked up by the whites and became used by all those born in what is now Haiti.
Difference between Haitian Creole and French
Haitian Creole and French have similar pronunciations and share many lexical items. In fact, over 90% of the Haitian Creole vocabulary is of French origin. However, many cognate terms actually have different meanings. For example, as Valdman mentions in Haitian Creole: Structure, Variation, Status, Origin, the word for "frequent" in French is fréquent; however, its cognate in Haitian Creole frekan means 'insolent, rude, and impertinent' and usually refers to people. In addition, the grammars of Haitian Creole and French are very different. For example, in Haitian Creole, verbs are not conjugated as they are in French.
Both Haitian Creole and French have also experienced semantic change; words that had a single meaning in the 17th century have changed or have been replaced in both languages. For example, "Ki jan ou rele?" ("What is your name?") corresponds to the French Comment vous appelez‑vous ? Although the average French speaker would not understand this phrase, every word in it is in fact of French origin: qui "who"; genre "manner"; vous "you", and héler "to call", but the verb héler has been replaced by appeler in modern French and reduced to a meaning of "to flag down".
Lefebvre proposed the theory of relexification, arguing that the process of relexification (the replacement of the phonological representation of a substratum lexical item with the phonological representation of a superstratum lexical item, so that the Haitian creole lexical item looks like French, but works like the substratum language(s)) was central in the development of Haitian Creole.
The Fon language, a modern Gbe language native to Benin, Nigeria and Togo in West Africa, has a grammatical structure similar to Haitian Creole, as if the creole was in some ways a relexification of Fon with vocabulary from French, and the two languages are often compared:
|la maison||afe a||kay la||the house|
Haitian Creole developed in the 17th and 18th centuries in the colony of Saint-Domingue, in a setting that mixed native speakers of various Niger–Congo languages with French colonizers. In the early 1940s under President Élie Lescot, attempts were made to standardize the language. American linguistic expert Frank Laubach and Irish Methodist missionary H. Ormonde McConnell developed a standardized Haitian Creole orthography. Although some regarded the orthography highly, it was generally not well received. Its orthography was standardized in 1979. That same year Haitian Creole was elevated in status by the Act of 18 September 1979. The Institut Pédagogique National established an official orthography for Creole, and slight modifications were made over the next two decades. For example, the hyphen (-) is no longer used, nor is the apostrophe.: 131 : 185–192 The only accent mark retained is the grave accent in ⟨è⟩ and ⟨ò⟩.: 433
Becoming an official language
The Constitution of 1987 upgraded Haitian Creole to a national language alongside French. It classified French as the langue d'instruction or "language of instruction", and Creole was classified as an outil d'enseignement or a "tool of education". The Constitution of 1987 names both Haitian Creole and French as the official languages, but recognizes Haitian Creole as the only language that all Haitians hold in common.: 263 
Even without government recognition, by the end of the 19th century, there were already literary texts written in Haitian Creole such as Oswald Durand's Choucoune and Georges Sylvain's Cric? Crac!. Félix Morisseau-Leroy was another influential author of Haitian Creole work. Since the 1980s, many educators, writers, and activists have written literature in Haitian Creole. In 2001, Open Gate: An Anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry was published. It was the first time a collection of Haitian Creole poetry was published in both Haitian Creole and English. On 28 October 2004, the Haitian daily Le Matin first published an entire edition in Haitian Creole in observance of the country's newly instated "Creole Day".: 556
List of Haitian Creole-language writers
- Louis-Philippe Dalembert (b.1962), poet and novelist
- Frankétienne (b. 1936), poet, playwright, painter, musician, activist
- Ady Jean-Gardy (b. 1967), international press activist
- Josaphat-Robert Large (1942-2017), poet, novelist and art critic
- Félix Morisseau-Leroy (1912-1998), poet and playwright
- Elsie Suréna (b. 1956), writer and visual artist
- Lyonel Trouillot (b. 1956), poet and novelist
- Fred Edson Lafortune (b. 1982), poet
Role in society
Although both French and Haitian Creole are official languages in Haiti, French is often considered the high language and Haitian Creole as the low language in the diglossic relationship of these two languages in society. That is to say, for the minority of Haitian population that is bilingual, the use of these two languages largely depends on the social context: standard French is used more in public, especially in formal situations, whereas Haitian Creole is used more on a daily basis and is often heard in ordinary conversation.
There is a large population in Haiti that speaks only Haitian Creole, whether under formal or informal conditions:
French plays no role in the very formal situation of a Haitian peasant (more than 80% of the population make a living from agriculture) presiding at a family gathering after the death of a member, or at the worship of the family lwa or voodoo spirits, or contacting a Catholic priest for a church baptism, marriage, or solemn mass, or consulting a physician, nurse, or dentist, or going to a civil officer to declare a death or birth.— Yves Dejean: 192
Use in educational system
In most schools, French is still the preferred language for teaching. Generally speaking, Creole is more used in public schools, as that is where most children of ordinary families who speak Creole attend school.
Historically, the education system has been French-dominant. Except the children of elites, many had to drop out of school because learning French was very challenging to them and they had a hard time to follow up. The Bernard Reform of 1978 tried to introduce Creole as the teaching language in the first four years of primary school; however, the reform overall was not very successful. As a result, the use of Creole has grown but in a very limited way[clarification needed]. After the earthquake in 2010, basic education became free and more accessible to the monolingual masses. The government is still[when?] trying[clarification needed] to expand the use of Creole and improve the school system.[failed verification]
Haitian Creole has a phonemic orthography with highly regular spelling, except for proper nouns and foreign words. According to the official standardized orthography, Haitian Creole is composed of the following 32 symbols: ⟨a⟩, ⟨an⟩, ⟨b⟩, ⟨ch⟩, ⟨d⟩, ⟨e⟩, ⟨è⟩, ⟨en⟩, ⟨f⟩, ⟨g⟩, ⟨h⟩, ⟨i⟩, ⟨j⟩, ⟨k⟩, ⟨l⟩, ⟨m⟩, ⟨n⟩, ⟨ng⟩, ⟨o⟩, ⟨ò⟩, ⟨on⟩, ⟨ou⟩, ⟨oun⟩, ⟨p⟩, ⟨r⟩, ⟨s⟩, ⟨t⟩, ⟨ui⟩, ⟨v⟩, ⟨w⟩, ⟨y⟩, and ⟨z⟩.: 100 The letters ⟨c⟩ and ⟨u⟩ are always associated with another letter (in the multigraphs ⟨ch⟩, ⟨ou⟩, ⟨oun⟩, and ⟨ui⟩). The Haitian Creole alphabet has no ⟨q⟩ or ⟨x⟩; when ⟨x⟩ is used in loanwords and proper nouns, it represents the sounds /ks/, /kz/, or /gz/.: 433
- There are no silent letters in the Haitian Creole orthography.
- All sounds are always spelled the same, except when a vowel carries a grave accent ⟨`⟩ before ⟨n⟩, which makes it an oral vowel instead of a nasal vowel:
- ⟨en⟩ for /ɛ̃/ and ⟨èn⟩ for /ɛn/;
- ⟨on⟩ for /ɔ̃/ and ⟨òn⟩ for /ɔn/; and
- ⟨an⟩ for /ã/ and ⟨àn⟩ for /an/.
- When immediately followed by a vowel in a word, the digraphs denoting the nasal vowels (⟨an⟩, ⟨en⟩, ⟨on⟩, and sometimes ⟨oun⟩) are pronounced as an oral vowel followed by /n/.
- There is some ambiguity in the pronunciation of the high vowels of the letters ⟨i⟩ and ⟨ou⟩ when followed in spelling by ⟨n⟩. Common words such as moun ("person") and machin ("car") end with consonantal /n/, while very few words, mostly adopted from African languages, contain nasalized high vowels, as in houngan ("vodou priest").
Haitian orthography debate
The first technical orthography for Haitian Creole was developed in 1940 by H. Ormonde McConnell and his wife, Primrose. It was later revised with the help of Frank Laubach, resulting in the creation of what is known as the McConnell–Laubach orthography.: 434 
The McConnell–Laubach orthography received substantial criticism from members of the Haitian elite. Haitian scholar Charles Pressoir critiqued the McConnell–Laubach orthography for its lack of codified front rounded vowels, which are typically used only by francophone elites.: 436 Another criticism was of the broad use of the letters ⟨k⟩, ⟨w⟩, and ⟨y⟩, which Pressoir argued looked "too American".: 431–432 This criticism of the "American look" of the orthography was shared by many educated Haitians, who also criticized its association with Protestantism.: 432 The last of Pressoir's criticisms was that "the use of the circumflex to mark nasalized vowels" treated nasal sounds differently from the way they are represented in French, which he feared would inhibit the learning of French.: 431
The creation of the orthography was essentially an articulation of the language ideologies of those involved and brought out political and social tensions between competing groups. A large portion of this tension lay in the ideology held by many that the French language is superior, which led to resentment of the language by some Haitians and an admiration for it from others.: 435 This orthographical controversy boiled down to an attempt to unify a conception of Haitian national identity. Where ⟨k⟩ and ⟨w⟩ seemed too Anglo-Saxon and American imperialistic, ⟨c⟩ and ⟨ou⟩ were symbolic of French colonialism.: 191
When Haiti was still a colony of France, edicts by the French government were often written in a French-lexicon creole and read aloud to the slave population. The first written text of Haitian Creole was composed in the French-lexicon in a poem called Lisette quitté la plaine in 1757 by Duvivier de la Mahautière, a White Creole planter.
Before Haitian Creole orthography was standardized in the late 20th century, spelling varied, but was based on subjecting spoken Haitian Creole to written French, a language whose spelling has a complicated relation to pronunciation. Unlike the phonetic orthography, French orthography of Haitian Creole is not standardized and varies according to the writer; some use exact French spelling, others adjust the spelling of certain words to represent pronunciation of the cognate in Haitian Creole, removing the silent letters. For example:
Li ale travay nan maten (lit. "He goes to work in the morning") could be transcribed as:
- Li ale travay nan maten,
- Lui aller travail nans matin, or
- Li aller travail nans matin.
Haitian Creole grammar is highly analytical: for example, verbs are not inflected for tense or person, and there is no grammatical gender, which means that adjectives and articles are not inflected according to the noun. The primary word order is subject–verb–object as it is in French and English.
Many grammatical features, particularly the pluralization of nouns and indication of possession, are indicated by appending certain markers, like yo, to the main word. There has been a debate going on for some years as to whether these markers are affixes or clitics, and if punctuation such as the hyphen should be used to connect them to the word.: 185–192
bekàn mwen yo
bike my PL
keke che le
bike my PL
There are six pronouns: first, second, and third person, each in both singular, and plural; all are of French etymological origin. There is no difference between direct and indirect objects.
|Haitian Creole||Fon: 142||French||English|
|Long form||Short form: 131 |
|ou[a][b]||w||hwɛ̀||tu||you (singular), thou (archaic)|
|l'||him, her, it|
|lui||him, her, it|
|vous: 94||you (plural)[d]|
- sometimes the French pronoun on ("one", "[generic] you", "[singular] they") is translated to Haitian Creole as ou and other times it is translated as yo
- sometimes ou is written as w and in the sample phrases below, w indicates ou.
- in the northern part of Haiti, li is often shortened to i as in Guadeloupe, Martinique and the other Lesser Antilles.
- in southern Haiti, the second person plural is zòt
- sometimes the French pronoun on ("one", "[generic] you", "[singular] they") is translated to Haitian Creole as yo and other times it is translated as ou
|pa mwen an||le mien||mine (masculine)|
|la mienne||mine (feminine)|
|pa ou a||le tien||yours (masculine)|
|la tienne||yours (feminine)|
|pa li a||le sien||his/hers/its (masculine)|
|la sienne||his/hers/its (feminine)|
|pa nou an||le/la nôtre||ours|
|le/la vôtre||yours ("of you-PLURAL")|
|pa yo a||le/la leur||theirs|
|pa mwen yo||les miens||mine|
|pa ou yo||les tiens||yours|
|pa li yo||les siens||his/hers/its|
|pa nou yo||les nôtres||ours|
|les vôtres||yours ("of you-PLURAL")|
|pa yo||les leurs||theirs|
Plural of nouns
Definite nouns are made plural when followed by the word yo; indefinite plural nouns are unmarked.
|liv yo||les livres||the books|
|machin yo||les voitures||the cars|
|fi yo met wòb||les filles mettent des robes||the girls put on dresses|
Possession is indicated by placing the possessor or possessive pronoun after the item possessed. In the Capois dialect of northern Haiti, a or an is placed before the possessive pronoun. Note, however, that this is not considered the standard Kreyòl most often heard in the media or used in writing.
Possession does not indicate definiteness ("my friend" as opposed to "a friend of mine"), and possessive constructions are often followed by a definite article.
|lajan li||son argent||his money|
|fanmi mwen||ma famille||my family|
|fanmi an m (Capois dialect)|
|kay yo||leur maison||their house|
|leurs maisons||their houses|
|papa ou||ton père||your father|
|chat Pyè a||le chat de Pierre||Pierre's cat|
|chèz Marie a||la chaise de Marie||Marie's chair|
|zanmi papa Jean||l'ami du père de Jean||Jean's father's friend|
|papa vwazen zanmi nou||le père du voisin de notre ami||our friend's neighbor's father|
The language has two indefinite articles, on and yon (pronounced /õ/ and /jõ/) which correspond to French un and une. Yon is derived from the French il y a un ("there is a"). Both are used only with singular nouns, and are placed before the noun:
|on kouto||un couteau||a knife|
|on kravat||une cravate||a necktie|
In Haitian Creole, the definite article has five forms,: 28 and it is placed after the noun it modifies. The final syllable of the preceding word determines which form the definite article takes.: 20 If the last sound is an oral consonant or a glide (spelled 'y' or 'w'), and if it is preceded by an oral vowel, the definite article is la:
|kravat la||la cravate||the tie|
|liv la||le livre||the book|
|kay la||la maison||the house||From French "la cahut(t)e" (English "hut, shack")|
|kaw la||le corbeau||the crow|
|lanp lan||la lampe||the lamp|
|bank lan||la banque||the bank|
|kouto a||le couteau||the knife|
|peyi a||le pays||the country|
|lame a||l'armée||the army|
|anana a||l'ananas||the pineapple|
|dine a||le dîner||the dinner|
|nò a||le nord||the north|
If a word ends in mi, mou, ni, nou, or if it ends with any nasal vowel, then the definite article is an:
|fanmi an||la famille||the family|
|jenou an||le genou||the knee|
|chen an||le chien||the dog|
|pon an||le pont||the bridge|
If the last sound is a nasal consonant, the definite article is nan, but may also be lan:
|machin nan||la voiture||the car|
|telefonn nan||le téléphone||the telephone||The spelling "telefòn" is also attested.|
|fanm nan||la femme||the woman|
There is a single word sa that corresponds to English "this" and to "that" (and to French ce, ceci, cela, and ça). As in English, it may be used as a demonstrative, except that it is placed after the noun that it qualifies. It is often followed by a or yo (in order to mark number): sa a ("this here" or "that there"):
|jaden sa bèl||ce jardin est beau||this garden is beautiful|
|that garden is beautiful|
As in English, it may also be used as a pronoun, replacing a noun:
|sa se zanmi mwen||c'est mon ami||this is my friend|
|that is my friend|
|sa se chen frè mwen||c'est le chien de mon frère||this is my brother's dog|
|that is my brother's dog|
Many verbs in Haitian Creole are the same spoken words as the French infinitive, but there is no conjugation in the language; the verbs have one form only, and changes in tense, mood, and aspect are indicated by the use of markers:
|li ale travay nan maten||il va au travail le matin||he goes to work in the morning|
|elle va au travail le matin||she goes to work in the morning|
|li dòmi aswè||il dort le soir||he sleeps in the evening|
|elle dort le soir||she sleeps in the evening|
|li li Bib la||il lit la Bible||he reads the Bible|
|elle lit la Bible||she reads the Bible|
|mwen fè manje||je fais à manger||I make food|
|nou toujou etidye||nous étudions toujours||we always study|
The concept expressed in English by the verb "to be" is expressed in Haitian Creole by three words, se, ye, and sometimes e.
The verb se (pronounced similarly to the English word "say") is used to link a subject with a predicate nominative:
|li se frè mwen||c'est mon frère||he is my brother|
|mwen se yon doktè||je suis médecin||I'm a doctor|
|je suis docteur|
|sa se yon pyebwa mango||c'est un manguier||this is a mango tree|
|that is a mango tree|
|nou se zanmi||nous sommes amis||we are friends|
|se yon bon ide||c'est une bonne idée||that's a good idea|
|this is a good idea|
|se nouvo chemiz mwen||c'est ma nouvelle chemise||that's my new shirt|
|this is my new shirt|
To express "I want to be", usually vin ("to become") is used instead of se.
|li pral vin bofrè m||il va devenir mon beau-frère||he will be my brother-in-law||he will be my stepbrother|
|li pral vin bofrè mwen|
|mwen vle vin yon doktè||je veux devenir docteur||I want to become a doctor|
|sa pral vin yon pye mango||ça va devenir un manguier||that will become a mango tree|
|this will become a mango tree|
|nou pral vin zanmi||nous allons devenir amis||we will be friends|
|mwen se Ayisyen||je suis haïtien||I am Haitian|
|Ayisyen mwen ye|
|Kòman ou ye?||lit. Comment + vous + êtes
|How are you?|
|mwen gen yon sè ki malad||j'ai une sœur malade||I have a sick sister|
|sè mwen malad||ma sœur est malade||my sister is sick|
The verb "to have" is genyen, often shortened to gen.
|mwen gen lajan nan bank lan||j'ai de l'argent dans la banque||I have money in the bank|
The verb genyen (or gen) also means "there is" or "there are":
|gen anpil Ayisyen nan Florid||il y a beaucoup d'Haïtiens en Floride||there are many Haitians in Florida|
|gen on moun la||il y a quelqu'un là||there is someone here|
|there is someone there|
|pa gen moun la||il n'y a personne là||there is nobody here|
|there is nobody there|
The Haitian Creole word for "to know" and "to know how" is konnen, which is often shortened to konn.
|Èske ou konnen non li?||Est-ce que tu connais son nom?||Do you know his name?|
|Do you know her name?|
|mwen konnen kote li ye||je sais où il est||I know where he is|
|je sais où elle est||I know where she is|
|Mwen konn fè manje||Je sais comment faire à manger||I know how to cook|
(lit. "I know how to make food")
|Eske ou konn ale Ayiti?||Est-ce que tu as été en Haïti?||Have you been to Haiti?|
(lit. "Do you know to go to Haiti?")
|Li pa konn li franse||Il ne sait pas lire le français||He cannot read French|
(lit. "He doesn't know how to read French")
|Elle ne sait pas lire le français||She cannot read French|
(lit. "She doesn't know how to read French")
Fè means "do" or "make". It has a broad range of meanings, as it is one of the most common verbs used in idiomatic phrases.
|Kòman ou fè pale kreyòl?||Comment as-tu appris à parler Créole?||How did you learn to speak Haitian Creole?|
|Marie konn fè mayi moulen.||Marie sait faire de la farine de maïs.||Marie knows how to make cornmeal.|
To be able to
The verb kapab (or shortened to ka, kap or kab) means "to be able to (do something)". It refers to both "capability" and "availability":
|mwen ka ale demen||je peux aller demain||I can go tomorrow|
|petèt mwen ka fè sa demen||je peux peut-être faire ça demain||maybe I can do that tomorrow|
|nou ka ale pita||nous pouvons aller plus tard||we can go later|
|mwen pale kreyòl||je parle créole||I speak Creole|
|mwen manje||j'ai mangé||I ate|
|ou manje||tu as mangé||you ate|
|li manje||il a mangé||he ate|
|elle a mangé||she ate|
|nou manje||nous avons mangé||we ate|
|yo manje||ils ont mangé||they ate|
|elles ont mangé|
For other tenses, special "tense marker" words are placed before the verb. The basic ones are:
|te||simple past||from French été ("been")|
|t ap||past progressive||a combination of te and ap, "was doing"|
|ap||present progressive||with ap and a, the pronouns nearly always take the short form (m ap, l ap, n ap, y ap, etc.). From 18th-century French être après, progressive form|
|a||future||some limitations on use. From French avoir à ("to have to")|
|pral||near or definite future||translates to "going to". Contraction of French pour aller ("going to")|
|ta||conditional future||a combination of te and a ("will do")|
|mwen te manje||I ate|
|I had eaten|
|ou te manje||you ate|
|you had eaten|
|li te manje||he ate|
|he had eaten|
|she had eaten|
|nou te manje||we ate|
|we had eaten|
|yo te manje||they ate|
|they had eaten|
|mwen t ap manje||I was eating|
|ou t ap manje||you were eating|
|li t ap manje||he was eating|
|she was eating|
|nou t ap manje||we were eating|
|yo t ap manje||they were eating|
|m ap manje||I am eating|
|w ap manje||you are eating|
|l ap manje||he is eating|
|she is eating|
|n ap manje||we are eating|
|y ap manje||they are eating|
For the present progressive, it is customary, though not necessary, to add kounye a ("right now"):
|m ap manje kounye a||I am eating right now|
|y ap manje kounye a||they are eating right now|
Also, ap manje can mean "will eat" depending on the context of the sentence:
|m ap manje apre m priye||I will eat after I pray|
|I am eating after I pray|
|mwen pap di sa||I will not say that|
|I am not saying that|
Near or definite future:
|mwen pral manje||I am going to eat|
|ou pral manje||you are going to eat|
|li pral manje||he is going to eat|
|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 later")
|mwen te wè zanmi ou yè||I saw your friend yesterday|
|nou te pale lontan||we spoke for a long time|
|lè l te gen uit an...||when he was eight years old...|
|when she 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 epi m te wè yon chen||I was walking and I saw a dog|
Recent past markers include fèk and sòt (both mean "just" or "just now" and 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 m te gen yon machin||I would come if I had a car|
|li ta bliye w si ou pa t la||he would forget you if you weren't here|
|she would forget you if you weren't here|
The word pa comes before a verb and any tense markers to negate it:
|Rose pa vle ale||Rose doesn't want to go|
|Rose pa t vle ale||Rose didn't want to go|
Most of the lexicon of Creole 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. However, the language also inherited many words of different origins, among them Wolof, Fon, Kongo, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Taino and Arabic.
Haitian Creole creates and borrows new words to describe new or old concepts and realities. Examples of this are fè bak which was borrowed from English and means "to move backwards" (the original word derived from French is rekile from reculer), and also from English, napkin, which is being used as well as tòchon, from the French torchon.
|ablado||/ablado/||Spanish: hablador||"a talker"|
|annanna||/ãnãna/||Taino: ananas; also used in French||pineapple|
|Ayiti||/ajiti/||Taino: Ahatti, lit. 'mountainous land'||Haiti ("mountainous land")|
|bagay||/baɡaj/||French: bagage, lit. 'baggage'||thing|
|bannann||/bãnãn/||French: banane, lit. 'banana'||banana/plantain|
|Bondye||/bõdje/||French: bon dieu, lit. 'good God'||God|
|chenèt||/ʃenɛt/||French: quénette (French Antilles)||gap between the two front teeth|
|chouk||/ʃuk/||Fula: chuk, lit. 'to pierce, to poke'||poke|
|dekabès||/dekabes/||Spanish: dos cabezas, lit. 'two heads'||two-headed win during dominos|
|diri||/diɣi/||French: du riz, lit. 'some rice'||rice|
|Etazini||/etazini/||French: États-Unis||United States|
|fig||/fiɡ/||French: figue, lit. 'fig'||banana|
|je||/ʒe/||French: les yeux, lit. 'the eyes'||eye|
|kay||/kaj/||French: la cahutte, lit. 'the hut'||house|
|kle||/kle/||French: clé, lit. 'key'||key, wrench|
|kle kola||/kle kola/||French: clé, lit. 'key'||bottle opener|
|kònfleks||/kɔnfleks/||corn flakes||breakfast cereal|
|kawotchou||/kawotʃu/||French: caoutchouc, lit. 'rubber'||tire|
|lalin||/lalin/||French: la lune, lit. 'the moon'||moon|
|li||/li/||French: lui||he, she, him, her, it|
|manbo||/mãbo/||Kongo: mambu or Fon: nanbo||vodou priestess|
|matant||/matãt/||French: ma tante, lit. 'my aunt'||aunt, aged woman|
|moun||/mun/||French: monde, lit. 'world'||people, person|
|mwen||/mwɛ̃/||French: moi, lit. 'me'||I, me, my, myself|
|nimewo||/nimewo/||French: numéro, lit. 'number'||number|
|oungan||/ũɡã/||Fon: houngan||vodou priest|
|piman||/pimã/||French: piment||a very hot pepper|
|pann||/pãn/||French: pendre, lit. 'to hang'||clothesline|
|podyab||/podjab/||French: pauvre diable or Spanish: pobre diablo||poor devil|
|pwa||/pwa/||French: pois, lit. 'pea'||bean|
|sapat||/sapat/||Spanish: zapato; French: savatte||sandal|
|tonton||/tõtõ/||French: tonton||uncle, aged man|
|yo||/jo/||Fon: ye||they, them, their; plural marker|
|zonbi||/zõbi/||Kongo: nzumbi||soulless corpse, living dead, ghost, zombie|
|zwazo||/zwazo/||French: les oiseaux, lit. 'the birds'||bird|
Nèg and blan
Although nèg and blan have similar words in French (nègre, a pejorative to refer to black people, and blanc, meaning white, or white person), the meanings they carry in French do not apply in Haitian Creole. Nèg means "a person" or « a man » (like "guy" or "dude" in American English). The word blan generally means "foreigner" or "not from Haiti". Thus, a non-black Haitian man (usually biracial) could be called nèg, while a black person from the US could be referred to as blan.
There are many other Haitian Creole terms for specific tones of skin including grimo, bren, roz, and mawon. Some Haitians consider such labels as offensive because of their association with color discrimination and the Haitian class system, while others use the terms freely.
|A demen!||See you tomorrow!|
|A pi ta!||See you later!|
|Adye!||Good bye! (permanently)|
|Anchante!||Nice to meet you! (lit. "enchanted!")|
|Bon apre-midi!||Good afternoon!|
|Bòn chans!||Good luck!|
|Bòn nui!||Good night!|
|Eskize m!||Excuse me!|
|Kenbe la!||Hang in there! (informal)|
|Ki jan ou rele?||What's your name?|
|Ki non ou?|
|Ki non w?|
|Kòman ou rele?|
|Mwen rele||My name is...|
|Non m se.|
|Ki jan ou ye?||How are you?|
|Ki laj ou?||How old are you? (lit. "What is your age?")|
|Ki laj ou genyen?|
|Kòman ou ye?||How are you?|
|Kon si, kon sa||So, so|
|Kontinye konsa!||Keep it up!|
|M ap boule||I'm managing (informal; lit. "I'm burning")|
(common response to sa kap fèt and sak pase)
|M ap kenbe||I'm hanging on (informal)|
|M ap viv||I'm living|
|Men wi||Of course|
|Mèsi anpil||Many thanks|
|Mwen byen||I'm well|
|Mwen dakò||I agree|
|Mwen gen an||I'm years old|
|Mwen la||I'm so-so (informal; lit. "I'm here")|
|N a wè pita!||See you later! (lit. "We will see later!")|
|Orevwa!||Good bye (temporarily)|
|Pa mal||Not bad|
|Pa pi mal||Not so bad|
|Padone m!||Pardon me!|
|Pòte w byen!||Take care! (lit. "Carry yourself well!")|
|Sa k ap fèt?||What's going on? (informal)|
|What's up? (informal)|
|Sa k pase?||What's happening? (informal)|
|What's up? (informal)|
|Tout al byen||All is well (lit. "All goes well")|
|Tout bagay anfòm||Everything is fine (lit. "Everything is in form")|
|Tout pa bon||All is not well (lit. "All is not good")|
Proverbs and expressions
Proverbs play a central role in traditional Haitian culture and Haitian Creole speakers make frequent use of them as well as of other metaphors.
|Men anpil, chay pa lou||Strength through unity (lit. "With many hands, the burden is not heavy"; Haitian Creole equivalent of the French on the coat of arms of Haiti, which reads l'union fait la force)|
|Apre bal, tanbou lou||There are consequences to your actions (lit. "After the dance, the drum is heavy")|
|Sak vid pa kanpe||No work gets done on an empty stomach (lit. "An empty bag does not stand up"): 60|
|Pitit tig se tig||Like father like son (lit. "The son of a tiger is a tiger")|
|Ak pasyans w ap wè tete pis||Anything is possible (lit. "With patience you will see the breast of the ant")|
|Bay kou bliye, pote mak sonje||The giver of the blow forgets, the carrier of the scar remembers|
|Mache chèche pa janm dòmi san soupe||You will get what you deserve|
|Bèl dan pa di zanmi||Not all smiles are friendly|
|Bèl antèman pa di paradi||A beautiful funeral does not guarantee heaven|
|Bèl fanm pa di bon mennaj||A beautiful wife does not guarantee a happy marriage|
|Dan konn mòde lang||People who work together sometimes hurt each other (lit. "Teeth are known to bite the tongue")|
|Sa k rive koukouloulou a ka rive kakalanga tou||What happens to the dumb guy can happen to the smart one too (lit. "What happens to the turkey can happen to the rooster too"): 75|
|Chak jou pa Dimanch||Your luck will not last forever (lit. "Not every day is Sunday")|
|Fanm pou yon tan, manman pou tout tan||A woman is for a time, a mother is for all time: 93|
|Nèg di san fè, Bondye fè san di||Man talks without doing, God does without talking: 31|
|Sa Bondye sere pou ou, lavalas pa ka pote l ale||What God has saved for you, nobody can take it away|
|Nèg rich se milat, milat pòv se nèg||A rich negro is a mulatto, a poor mulatto is a negro|
|Pale franse pa di lespri||Speaking French does not mean you are smart: 114|
|Wòch nan dlo pa konnen doulè wòch nan solèy||The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun|
|Ravèt pa janm gen rezon devan poul||Justice will always be on the side of the stronger (lit. "A cockroach in front of a chicken is never correct")|
|Si ou bwè dlo nan vè, respèkte vè a||If you drink water from a glass, respect the glass|
|Si travay te bon bagay, moun rich ta pran l lontan||If work were a good thing, the rich would have grabbed it a long time ago|
|Sèl pa vante tèt li di li sale||Let others praise you (lit. "Salt doesn't brag that it's salty," said to those who praise themselves)|
|Bouch granmoun santi, sak ladan l se rezon||Wisdom comes from the mouth of old people (lit. "The mouth of the old stinks but what's inside is wisdom")|
|Tout moun se moun||Everyone matters (lit. "Everybody is a person")|
|Se lave men, siye l atè||It was useless work (lit. "Wash your hands and wipe them on the floor")|
|M ap di ou sa kasayòl te di bèf la||Mind your own business|
|Li pale franse||He cannot be trusted, he is full of himself (lit. "He speaks French")|
|Kreyòl pale, kreyòl konprann||Speak straightforwardly and honestly (lit. "Creole talks, Creole understands"): 29|
|Bouche nen ou pou bwè dlo santi||You have to accept a bad situation (lit. "Pinch your nose to drink smelly water"): 55|
|Mache sou pinga ou, pou ou pa pile: "Si m te konnen!"||"Be on your guard, so you don't have to say: 'If only I'd known!'": 159|
|Tann jis nou tounen pwa tann||To wait forever (lit. "left hanging until we became string beans" which is a word play on tann, which means both "to hang" and "to wait")|
|San pran souf||Without taking a breath; continuously|
|W ap konn jòj||Warning or threat of punishment or reprimand (lit. "You will know George")|
|Dis ti piti tankou ou||Dismissing or defying a threat or show of force (lit. "Ten little ones like you couldn't.")|
|Lè poul va fè dan||Never (lit. "When hens grow teeth")|
|Piti piti zwazo fè nich li||You will learn (lit. "Little by little the bird makes its nest"): 110|
United States and Canada
Haitian Creole is used widely among Haitians who have relocated to other countries, particularly the United States and Canada. Some of the larger Creole-speaking populations are found in Montreal, Quebec (where French is the official language), New York City, Boston, and Central and South Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach). To reach out to 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 HBN, based in Miami. These areas also each have more than half a dozen Creole-language AM radio stations.
Haitian Creole and Haitian culture are taught in many colleges in the United States and the Bahamas. York College at the City University of New York features a minor in Haitian Creole. Indiana University has a Creole Institute founded by 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 Bryant Freeman. 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, University of Miami, and Duke University also offer Haitian Creole classes, and Columbia University and NYU have jointly offered a course since 2015. The University of Chicago began offering Creole courses in 2010.
As of 2015[update], the New York City Department of Education counted 2,838 Haitian Creole-speaking English-language learners (ELLs) in the city's K–12 schools, making it the seventh most common home language of ELLs citywide and the fifth most common home language of Brooklyn ELLs.: 19–20 Because of the large population of Haitian Creole-speaking students within NYC schools, various organizations have been established to respond to the needs of these students. For example, Flanbwayan and Gran Chimen Sant Kiltirèl, both located in Brooklyn, New York, aim to promote education and Haitian culture through advocacy, literacy projects, and cultural/artistic endeavors.
Haitian Creole is the second most spoken language in Cuba after Spanish, where over 300,000 Haitian immigrants speak it. It is recognized as a minority language in Cuba and a considerable number of Cubans speak it fluently. 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.
As of 2012[update], the language was also spoken by over 450,000 Haitians who reside in the neighboring Dominican Republic, although the locals do not speak it. However, some estimates suggest that there are over a million speakers due to a huge population of undocumented immigrants from Haiti.
After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, international aid workers desperately needed translation tools for communicating in Haitian Creole. Furthermore, international organizations had little idea whom to contact as translators. As an emergency measure, Carnegie Mellon University released data for its own research into the public domain. Microsoft Research and Google Translate implemented alpha version machine translators based on the Carnegie Mellon data.
Several smartphone apps have been released, including learning with flashcards by Byki and two medical dictionaries, one by Educa Vision and a second by Ultralingua, the latter of which includes an audio phrase book and a section on cultural anthropology.
|Haitian Creole edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
- Radio Haiti-Inter
- Creole language
- Antillean Creole
- Louisiana Creole
- Akademi Kreyòl Ayisyen
- Michel DeGraff
- Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin
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Name: ... Haitian Creole ...; Phylum: ... Indo‑European...
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Under the 1987 Constitution, adopted after the overthrow of Jean‑Claude Duvalier’s dictatorship, [Haitian] Creole and French have been the two official languages, but most of the population speaks only Creole fluently.
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There are more speakers of French-based Creoles than all other Creoles combined (including English), thanks mostly to Haiti, the biggest Creole-speaking nation in the world...
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- Velupillai, Viveka (2015). Pidgins, Creoles and mixed languages: an introduction. Creole language library. Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 198. ISBN 9789027252715.
- Singler, John Victor (1996). "Theories of Creole Genesis, Sociohistorical Considerations, and the Evaluation of Evidence: The Case of Haitian Creole and the Relexification Hypothesis". Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages. 11 (2): 185–230. doi:10.1075/jpcl.11.2.02sin.
- Lefebvre, Claire (2004). "The linguistic situation in Haiti at the time Haitian Creole was formed". Issues in the Study of Pidgin and Creole Languages. Studies in language companion series. 70. John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 240–241. doi:10.1075/slcs.70. ISBN 978-1-58811-516-4. ISSN 0165-7763. LCCN 2004041134. OCLC 54365215.
- Lagarde, François (2007). "5. Langues § 1. Locaters § 1.2. Immigrés". Français aux Etats-Unis (1990–2005): migration, langue, culture et économie. Transversales (in French). 20. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers. p. 137. ISBN 978-3-03911-293-7. LCCN 2008271325. OCLC 122935474.
le français et le créole haïtien ... sont des langues différentes « non-mutuellement intelligibles »
- Valdman, Albert (2015). Haitian Creole : structure, variation, status, origin. Equinox: Equinox. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-84553-387-8.
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- Lefebvre, Claire (1986). "Relexification in Creole Genesis Revisited: the Case of Haitian Creole". In Muysken, Pieter; Smith, Norval (eds.). Substrata Versus Universals in Creole Genesis. Creole Language Library. 1. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 279–301. doi:10.1075/cll.1.13lef. ISBN 978-90-272-5221-0. ISSN 0920-9026. LCCN 86018856. OCLC 14002046. OL 5268669W.
- improper synthesis?] [
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L'usage du créole, en tant que langue commune parlée par les 90 % de la population haïtienne, est permis dans les écoles comme instrument et objet d'enseignement.
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Nou suiv sa yo rele ‘òtograf ofisyèl’ la lan tout sa li mande. Tout liv oubyen dokiman Éditions Deschamps sòti respekte òtograf sa a alalèt. Yon sèl ti eksepsyon petèt, se kesyon apostwòf nou pa anplwaye aprè de gwoup kòm ‘m ap’ (m'ap); ‘sa k ap fèt?’ (sa k'ap fèt?)
- Valdman, Albert (1989). "The Use of Creole as a School Medium and Decreolization in Haiti". In Zuanelli Sonino, Elisabetta (ed.). Literacy in School and Society: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Topics in Language and Linguistics. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 59. doi:10.1007/978-1-4899-0909-1. ISBN 978-1-4899-0909-1. LCCN 89-35803. OCLC 646534330. OL 9382950W.
In 1979, by a presidential decree, Haitian Creole was officially recognized as classroom medium and as school subject at the primary level. In the 1983 Constitution it was upgraded to the level of national language with French.
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Article 5 of the ... Constitution of 1987 ... recognizes Creole as the sole language that unites all Haitians.
- "La Constitution de 1987, Article 5" [Constitution of 1987, Article 5] (in French). 1987. Archived from the original on 12 September 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
Tous les Haïtiens sont unis par une Langue commune : le Créole.
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- Hebblethwaite, Benjamin (2012). "French and underdevelopment, Haitian Creole and development" (PDF). Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages. 27:2 (2): 255–302. doi:10.1075/jpcl.27.2.03heb. ISSN 0920-9034.
- Cadely, Jean‑Robert (2002). "Le statut des voyelles nasales en Créole haïtien" [The Status of Nasal Vowels in Haitian Creole]. Lingua (in French). 112 (6): 437–438. doi:10.1016/S0024-3841(01)00055-9. ISSN 0024-3841.
L’absence d’opposition distinctive dans la distribution des voyelles hautes ainsi que le facteur combinatoire illustré ci-dessus amènent certains auteurs ... à considérer les voyelles nasales [ĩ] et [ũ] comme des variantes contextuelles de leurs correspondantes orales. Toutefois, l’occurrence dans le vocabulaire des Haïtiens de nombre de termes qui se rattachent pour la plupart à la religion vaudou contribue à affaiblir cette analyse. Par exemple, dans la liste des mots que nous présentons ... il est facile de constater que les voyelles nasales hautes n’apparaissent pas dans l’environnement de consonnes nasales:
[ũɡã] ‘prêtre vaudou’
[ũsi] ‘assistante du prêtre/ de la prêtresse’
[ũfɔ] ‘sanctuaire du temple vaudou’
[oɡũ] ‘divinité vaudou’
[ũɡɛvɛ] ‘collier au cou du prêtre vaudou’
[pĩɡa] ‘prenez garde’
[kaʃĩbo] ‘pipe de terre’
[jũ/ũ nɛɡ] ‘un individu’
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For some opponents of the official orthography, ⟨k⟩ and ⟨w⟩ are tainted with the perceived stigma of being Anglo-Saxon and smack of American imperialism. The French symbols ⟨c⟩ and ⟨ou⟩, however, are allied with colonialism.
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Kèlkeswa kote ou fè nan peyi a lè ou kite Pòtoprens, ou travèse zòn kote yo fè jaden... / Quelle que soit la route qu'on emprunte pour sortir de Port-au-prince, on traverse des zones cultivées.
- Damoiseau, Robert; Jean-Paul, Gesner (2002). J'apprends le créole haïtien [I'm Learning Haitian Creole] (in French and Haitian Creole). Port-au-Prince and Paris: 'Faculté de Linguistique Appliquée, Université d'État d'Haïti and Éditions Karthala. pp. 82–83. ISBN 978-2-84586-301-9. OCLC 50772881. OL 4553655W.
Yo pa fè diferans ant « kawotchou » machin ak « wou » machin nan. Yo di yonn pou lòt. Gen kawotchou ki fèt pou resevwa chanm, genyen ki pa sèvi ak chanm. Yo rele kawotchou sa a tiblès... / On ne fait pas de différence entre « pneu » et « roue » d'une voiture. On dit l'un pour l'autre. Il y a des pneus conçus pour recevoir une chambre à air, il y en a qui s'utilisent sans chambre à air. On appelle ce dernier type de pneus « tubeless ».
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Most English words that are of the same origin as Creole words are marked with an asterisk (*).... Etazini n[oun] United States* ... ozetazini In the U.S.A.
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The importance of metaphors in Haitian storytelling is reflected in the value ascribed to proverbs as an important aspect of teaching and reinforcing practical wisdom and values to children and community members. The existence of two separate texts in which 999 to more than 3000 Haitian proverbs are documented serve as evidence of the importance of these proverbs and their centrality in traditional Haitian culture...
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Aristide took ownership of the pwen and replied with another: 'Men anpil chay pa lou' ("With many hands, the burden is not heavy").
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After Aristide announced his unexpected candidacy in the 1990 presidential elections, the American ambassador to Haiti, Alvin Adams, in a speech assured Haitians that the United States would support whichever candidate was elected but concluded his remarks with a proverb (or pwen) emphasizing the problems that would remain after the elections: ‘After the dance, the drum is heavy [Apre bal, tanbou lou]’....
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The rock in the sun cannot get ahead like the rock in the water. Whether you’re the rock suffering in the sun or whether you’re cooling off in the water depends on where you were born, what passport you hold, what education you have, whether you speak French, whether your parents are peasants or well-off, whether your parents are married or if you have a birth certificate. Chance can deal a very cruel or kind hand in Haiti.
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Cette situation d’injustice institutionalisée est dénoncée par la philosophie populaire dans les adages courants comme : ... « Ravèt pa janm gen rezon devan poul » ... « Un cafard ne saurait l’emporter sur un poulet ». Expression populaire et imagée de la loi de la jungle: « la raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure ».
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[Peter] Hallward has wrongly misconstrued [Jean-Bertrand] Aristide’s affirmative and egalitarian principle tout moun se moun (‘Everybody is a person’)—the idea that everyone matters and that ‘everyone is endowed with the same essential dignity.’
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Li pale franse (He speaks French (so he is likely deceiving you).)
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Lè poul va fè dan: Never (when hens grow teeth).
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This course is part of the language exchange program with New York University...
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- College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
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