For Haitians & Friends of Haiti

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There are many who’ve written off Haiti, who believe we’ve dug an abyss for ourselves and will never be able to get out of it.  This cannot be further from the truth; we’ve been through worse, and I am confident we will get through this phase in our history as well.  It will not be easy. There has been too much down slide without any successful attempt to stop it.  But there are a lot of groups working hard to make a difference and to attempt to improve the situation for our brothers and sisters in need.  Some of those initiatives include medical and religious missions, orphanages, water purification systems, camps, student sponsorship, and money regularly sent by members of the diaspora to family members, friends, and loved ones.  Thank God for those ongoing programs without which the situation would be catastrophic.  However, these programs are Band-Aids put on a wound that is spreading out of control. With no plan to fully heal the wound, we will eventually run out of Band-Aids.

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There is no doubt a lot of sacrifices are being made by a great number of Haitians and friends of Haiti.  We’ve come to a point in the crisis where we can no longer afford to be disjointed.  While the programs that are in place should continue in order to save lives, it is critical that we come up with a different strategy where everyone comes together to conceive some LONG-TERM plans, to identify the problems that stand in the way of progress, and come up with LONG-TERM sustainable resolutions.  We don’t have individual problems; we have a national crisis that can only be solved with everyone coming together.

The Diaspora’s Role

It’s time we in the diaspora in particular take control of our own destiny and put our expertise to the service of our country.  This is not going to happen overnight, and it may be too late for some to witness the results, but we have to come up with a sustainable plan to hand down to our kids.  The time to start is now.

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Facts about Haiti

0531_Beach_1087Jovenel Moïse, 48, rose from obscurity to win the country’s presidential – Source: New York Times _0431 #Haiti – Some interesting recent facts.  More aid pouring in; but how is it used?  Source: USAID  _1921Haiti People – A good source for facts about Haiti and Haiti History is Everyculture.com

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Creglish – Creole Meets English Part II

In my last post Creole Meets English Part I, I showed you how the English pronunciation of certain letters sounds exactly like some Kreyòl words.  For example “C” in English sounds like the Kreyòl word that means “if” and “V” sounds like the word that means “life“.  In part II we take it one step further by combining those letters to introduce some new vocabulary words and expressions.

Note that these words are by no means trivial; they are an integral part of the language and adding them to your vocabulary right away will serve you well.  For example you can begin every single question with the following word pair “Ès ke“, which sounds like S K  and literally means “Is it?“; it’s a common way of beginning a question in both Kreyòl and French.

Each set of letters on the left, pronounced in English sounds like the Kreyòl words on the right side of the chart.

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Begin speaking Kreyòl instantly; no prior experience required

Although you will learn some valuable vocabulary words from this series, the main focus is on pronunciation.  Kreyòl is a phonetic language; therefore the sounds you learn here will never change.  The sounds of the vowels are the most crucial as the consonant sounds, for the most part, do not differ from English.  If you analyze the first word of the chart, epi,  your takeaway  should be that “e” in Kreyòl sounds like the letter “a” in English, and the sound “ee” in “P” is represented by “i“.  This will help you read Kreyòl later, which is where we’ll eventually take you. The sound “è” in “S” is one you want to get used to as well.

Try and pronounce the below words without looking up at the above chart.

papy's-thing2b3

Pronunciation Meaning
S-K yo P-P-T? Are they smaller?
A-C yo D-K yo P-P-T What if they say that they are the smallest
… A-P yo D-K-V Yo D … They then said that their life is hard
Pronounce the letters in English; do not call out the dashes “-“

Creglish – Creole Meets English Part I

I hereby declare Creole (Kreyòl) the easiest language a native English speaker can learn.  That’s a very bold statement, which I’m going to back up by first introducing you to the similarities between the two languages in terms of phonetics using a subset of the alphabet.  A substantial number of words are spelled like English words, example:  A, Ale, Ban, Do, Gate, Kite.

Download Presentation: KreGlish-v1.0

Begin mastering pronunciation, which for many, is the toughest part of leaning a new language by calling out some letters of the alphabet with the word Yo.  

Each letter below pronounced in English sounds like a Kreyòl word

papy's-thing3

 

Tongue and Mouth Movement

While the following is not critical at this stage, you can achieve a highly authentic accent by making two key adjustments. The first is to shorten the sound that every letter makes. You may not be aware of it, but in English, we tend to prolong the ending sound of letters and words. For example, “C” sounds like “seeee” D sounds like “deeee”.  Do your best to shorten the sounds, ending them briskly and suddenly.  This is applicable for every sound of every letter and word; it’s even more prevalent with “k” that sounds like “kay”, but should end so suddenly that the “y” is not audible.

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The second adjustment is to establish the proper tongue position when pronouncing “D” and “T”.  In English, when pronouncing “D” or “T”, your tongue touches the roof of your month, but in Kreyòl you need to move it to the edge of your teeth, as with the letter “C”. Try it and note the difference.  By pronouncing “D” and “T” while touching your front teeth with your tongue, you just pronounced the word “di” and “ti” perfectly in Creole.  “Di” has two meanings: to say (or tell) and hard, while “Ti” means little (or small).  

Begin speaking Kreyòl instantly; no prior experience required

Call out the letters and English words by running one onto another as if you were reading a sentence. I can guarantee they will be understandable after a couple of tries.  We will work on improving the pronunciation later, but for now, I want you to try saying the sentences, with absolutely no Creole-specific instructions from me.

Pronunciation Meaning
S-K yo D-K yo P-T? Did they say they are small?
Yo D-K yo P-P-T They said they are the smallest
Yo D-K-V Yo D They said their life is hard
Pronounce the letters in English; do not call out the dashes “-“

In Part II, we combine some of these letters to introduce additional vocabulary words.

Kreyòl Proficiency

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One & two letter words with È at the center

È is one of three accented vowels, the other two are Ò & À.  This accent is called the accent grave.  In French there are several accented vowels, but in Creole there are only those three and nothing else.  Even native speakers tend to use É (accent aigu), which is very popular in French but does not exist in Creole.  Although we do not use the accent aigu, all E’s without an accent is pronounced É.  The È  is  extremely useful and versatile in Creole; it makes the short e sound and is equivalent to various blends in English. For example:

  • lèt sounds just like let and means letter or milk
  • mèt sounds like met and means master, owner or the verb can
  • mès sounds like mess and means mass
  • nèt sounds like net and means entire
  • sèt sounds like set and it is the number 7
  • vèsè means verse, in which case the first è is equivalent to er
  • vèt sounds like vet and is the color green

In previous posts, we have seen words that have the same spelling in both English and Creole, in this most, it is mostly words that sound like English words.  In some cases the only different in spelling is just that accent on the e; example lèt, sèt, and the others listed above.

e-grav creole language 1-new

Sè le pè a te p lè L wè kè L: The old man’s sister got scared when she saw his heart.

_1è-two-letters1

 

Two-letter words – È

È: o’clock
: beurre
: many
: to do/make; also means iron
: war
: heart
: when; also means time
: old lady / sea / sister (religious order)
: nerve
: old man / fear / peace / pair
: sister (sibling and religious order)
: earth / dirt
: green / drinking glass / worm
: to see
: yesterday

Sè le pè a fè pèp la wè kè L pa kase e L pa pè: The old man’s sister showed the population she is not scared

One & two letter words with E at the center

Se de ze ke m vle: I just want two eggs; literally (it’s two eggs that I want)

In the last post we saw A at the center of 17 two-letter words, today we see 15 more with E as the center piece. The significance of these short words is that they are pretty easy to remember, they can be used to practice pronunciation, and later as you progress, they will be very useful as helper words to formulate complete sentences. Some of the most common or most useful of the bunch are:

De: two
Ke: what
Le: the
Se: it is
Te: tea or mark past tense
En: one / what
Ye: to be
Ze: egg

Contrary to English, the article le = the & the verb ye = to be are not very common; the article le is the least used article and the only one that never succeeds the noun; it is often used in conjunction with a second article, example: le pè a = the old man. While the verb to be is very popular in English because of its versatility, its Creole equivalent ye, is arguably the least popular word of our language. It’s not used as an auxiliary verb; we instead use completely separate words to mark each tense; example ap marks the present participle and te marks the past tense, the letter t is the abbreviated form when the succeeding verb begins with a vowel. Example:

Li te pale avè M: She spoke with me

Li T ale san mwen: She left without me

In the above examples we get a bonus of the usage of the pronoun mwen and its abbreviated forn M = I or me; by the way the full form and the abbreviated forms are almost never interchangeable; it always depends on the word that either succeeds or precedes them.  The verbs pale=to speak and ale=to go also share the same spelling with English words you know; I encourage you to begin using them during conversation.

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_1e-two-letters2

Two-letter words – E

E: and / with / how about?
De: two
Fe: fire
Je: eye
Ke: what
Le: the
Me: May (month)
Ne: node
Pe: quite (to shut up)
Se: it is
Te: tea or mark past tense
Ve: wish
Ye: to be
Ze: egg
En: one / what?

In closing: Pou dejene M te prepare de ze e on gode te: for breakfast I prepared two eggs and a cup of tea.

Se te ve L pou L te bwè te a: it was her wish to drink the tea.

 

One & two letter words with A

Today we continue the series of articles on short words; if you missed the article on the relationship between Creole and US states that started the series, I suggest you check it out.  Remember from the post on the alphabet that there are 4 vowels in Creole: a, e, i, o plus the 3 accented vowels à, è, and ò. If we pair any vowel with virtually any of the consonants, we end up with a valid word.  Without boring you with too much detail, the primary reason for such a large number of short words is the phonetic nature of our language where there is no room for silent letters. For example ‘dans’ and ‘dent’ are homonyms in French, the ending s & t are silent, the first translates to ‘in’ while the other means ‘tooth’, but in Creole, whichever we refer to is written ‘dan’, another easy word to remember with identical spelling to Dan, my neighbor’s first name.

Rare, is another great example; the same word is used in both French and English, but in Creole it’s ‘ra’, which is also easy to remember because it’s the first two letters of the word rare.  Because we don’t pronounce the second r and the e that follows, we don’t write them either.

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Starting with the letter A, we give you the chart below with 13 two-letter words with A as the second letter and 4 more with A as the first letter of the word. Similar to English A by itself is also a word, which, by pure coincidence plays the same role it does in English.  It is a synonym of An just like in English; the only two differences are: whereas in English A and And are indefinite articles and they precede the noun in the sentence, in Creole they are indefinite articles and they succeed the noun.  Examples: The plan is plan an & the doctor is doktè a.

_1a-two-letters

Two-letter words – A

A: the
Ba: kiss / low / socks (sports) / leggings
Fa: lipstick
Ja: treasure
Ka: can (verb) / case
La: the
Ma: rest / residue
Na: We (na is short for nou and is used sparingly)
Pa: not
Ra: rare
Sa: this / that
Ta: late
Va: will (future, used sparingly
Wa: king
One way to easily remember those words is to use R2R and associate them with an acronym that you are familiar with; for example PA for Physician’s Assistant or AP for Associated Press.

Here are a couple of example sentences using those words:

Wa a pa ka ba Christina ja a, which means: The king cannot give the treasure to Christina.

Ka wa a ra, which means: The king’s case is rare.

Look forward to reading your comments and/or questions.

Two-letter US State names mapped to Creole words.

Map These Words to Learn Creole

Here is a fast and fun way to learn a few key words in the Creole language, with the help of some words you already know in English!

First, let’s talk about spelling. Thankfully, English and Kreyòl (Creole) share many words with the same spelling. Since you know how to spell them in English, you know how to spell them in Creole! (Read more about them in my post Easy Kreyòl for English Speakers)

To learn to pronounce them quickly, you can download my bookmark on phonetic for FREE here, or see my article The Creole Alphabet.

 To learn the meaning of the words, I want to share a technique I use to learn foreign languages. The technique is called Relate to Remember (R2R). (See more about it here).  The idea with R2R is that if you can relate to the word, you can remember it more easily.

So let’s start simple. Creole happens to have an abundance of two-letter words and many of those are popular “helper” words that you can use to build your language skills. You can pair them with words you already know to formulate complete sentences.

On the English side of the equation, perhaps the best-known two-letter “words” are the abbreviated names of the states of the U.S. Turns out that 14 out the 50 U.S. state name abbreviations are also Creole words.  There are three more U.S. states, that, if we switch their two letters, we get three more Creole words. If we place an accent on the vowel e or o, we get three more Creole words. That’s a total of 20 new easy-to-remember words with hardly lifting a finger!

Two-letter US State names mapped to Creole words.

Two-letter U.S. State                                         English

Ak: the Cooperative state
Ak is the abbreviation for Avèk                       With

Al: the “on the move” state
Al is the abbreviation for Ale                            to Go

De: “the Second State”                                         Two

La: “the definite state”                                         the
La is one of 6 definite articles; the others are: a, an, lan, le, nan.

Ma: “the residue state”                                        Rest / Residue

Mi: “the enclosed state”                                       Wall / Ripe

Mo: the Intellectual State                                    Word

Ne: “the in between state”                                   Node

Pa: “the argumentative state”                             Not

Ri: “the happy state”                                             to Laugh

Va: “the futuristic state”                                      will

Wa: “the royal state”                                             King

Wi: “the agreeable state”                                      Yes

Switching the two-letters of a ID, IL, & IN results in three very common words
ID –> Di: “the Tale State”                                       to tell:
IL –> Li: “the knowledgeable state”                    to read also he/she/it
IN –> NI: “the don’t care state”                            either / neither

By introducing the accent “grav”, we end up with 3 more words
Mè: “the wise state”                                               old lady
Mò: “the dead state”                                              dead person
Nè: “the nervous state”                                         nerve

We close with a couple of sentences made up of the following states: ALLA, PA, & IL, AK (inverted) & finally ME, MO, NE with the accent “grav” on the vowel e or o.

La mè a gen nè, li pa ka al wè mò a, which means: the old lady is upset, she can’t go see her deceased relative.

Wi, wa a di de mo epi li pete ri, which means: yes, the king said a few words, then he started laughing.

Look forward to reading your comments and/or questions.