Haitian Creole for Disaster Relief
My friends Julie and Johnny at Women in Construction are leading a volunteer trip to Haiti next week, and asked me to give a presentation on the language. I should be clear that I don’t speak Haitian Creole. I speak passable French, so I spent some time researching and compiling the following materials.
Haiti has two official languages. French is the official language of the government, spoken by educated Haitians, business people, and elites, but not by many common Haitians. Haitian Creole, on the other hand, is the language spoken by nearly all Haitians. Although it originates from French, Haitian Creole (referred to simply as Creole or Kreyòl) is a distinct language with influences from Spanish, African languages, and English. Its grammar is simpler than that of French and its orthography, which was standardized fairly recently, is almost entirely phonetic. In addition to the two official languages, Spanish is spoken by some Haitians.
Since few Haitians speak English, there is a significant language barrier for English-speaking relief workers and volunteers. Since there appear to be few resources available online, I decided to put together a two-page Haitian Creole / French Phrase Sheet. Again, I don’t speak Haitian Creole, so there may be some minor mistakes, and I would welcome corrections or suggestions. Here is the phrase sheet:
Other Haitian Creole Resources:
- Ann pale kreyol: An Introductory Course in Haitian Creole [PDF]: 265-page introductory textbook.
- Byki Online: Flashcards for learning Haitian Creole. Free login.
- TravelingHaiti.com: A list of common Creole words and phrases.
- Kansas University Haitian Creole Resources: Material and accompanying audio, including a ‘Survival Creole’ guide.
- K4Health Haiti Relief Toolkit: Numerous resources, including a guide to Haitian Creole for Health Care.