Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I think it is really funny the words I (think I) have learned in Kreyol, and possibly quite telling.

Here they are, in no particular order. Probably misspelled. Might be inaccurate. That might be even more telling.
  1. Vole means to steal, or thief
  2. Punez means bedbug
  3. Mange means to eat, or food
  4. Mezi means thank you, and mezi ampil means thank you very much
  5. Pa de qua means you are welcome
  6. Pa vyon means no meat, as in "please sweet lunch lady, don't put that chicken leg on my plate, I'll stick with only rice"
  7. Sava means ok. Say it like a question, and you just asked someone if they are ok. Say it as a statement, and you just told the lunch lady not to put any more spoonfuls of rice on your plate.
  8. Ale means go
  9. Pale means speak, as in "pale Onglais", meaning "do you speak English?"
  10. M or mwen means me/I
  11. U means you
  12. Li means he, she, or it
  13. La means here, as in "Ben la" means "is Ben here?"
  14. Bon means good. So does bien, I think. Not sure which is used when.
  15. Grace a Dieu means by the grace of God. When someone says "sava", you reply "bien, Grace a Dieu" - good, by the grace of God
  16. Jezi means Jesus
  17. Manifestation means a protest, which means run away
  18. Bon bagay means good things
  19. Viv means the same as viva in Spanish, as in Viv Ayiti (Ayiti is Haiti)
  20. Seigneur means Lord
  21. Fenet means window
  22. Pa gen means I don't have
  23. Madame Ben means Ben's wife (ie, my name here)
  24. Mezami means "my friend", and you say it like "oh my gosh" or "oh wow"
  25. Vyolance means violence
  26. Silance means be quiet
  27. Wi means yes
  28. Machine means car
  29. Moun means person. Tout moun means everybody, chak moun means each person, ti moun means child, gran moun means adult. Ti moun yo is plural- children.
  30. Se means are. M se Amerike means I am American.
  31. Ay u mem means and you, as in, "I am fine, and you?"
  32. Pa in front of anything makes it negative (gen is have, pa gen is don't have)
  33. Nou means us, we, and you plural
  34. Yo means them or they
  35. Bonjou means good day, bonswa means good night. You start saying bonswa after 12 noon.
  36. Lakay means home. Or maybe house.
  37. Acra is a fried vegetable kind of food
  38. Grio is a pile-of-rice kind of food
  39. Ananas means pineapple
  40. Fig means banana
  41. Citron means a tiny kind of orange
  42. Bef means cow or beef
  43. Pwason means fish
  44. Jambon ak fwomage means ham and cheese (which you say after "sandwiche")
  45. Swa son kenz means 75, as in, our school is on Delmas 75
  46. Tranche means slice, as in "un tranche pizza", what I order at Epidor bakery
  47. Dlo means water
  48. Ecole means school
  49. Legliz means church (kind of like iglesia, the Spanish for church)
  50. Kraze means broken down/fallen down, as in "the building was kraze in the earthquake"
  51. Bloque means a big chunk of concrete, as in "I got this injury from a bloque"
  52. Fini means finished
  53. Bonn Fette means happy birthday
  54. Drapo means flag
That's it folks. That's the sum total.

I don't know to want, to need, to look for, to walk, to have, to do, to make, to know, to see, to read, or any other dozens of essential verbs. I don't know because, or why, or from, or to, or so, or but, or even and. You can't make a sentence without those words. 

Now, of course, there are many more words I can read, especially if they are cognates to either English or Spanish words I know (for instance, travay means work/job in Kreyol, which is similar to trabajar, to work, in Spanish).

But I really haven't "picked up" Kreyol. So many people here say they "just learned it from being here". Mostly they are people who spent their days in orphanages or among the poor when they first came to Haiti... it is not working that way for me! I am really conflicted about it- I know my time in Haiti will be significantly impeded by not knowing Kreyol, but all day every day I work at a school that specifically doesn't allow its students to speak Kreyol, so they will improve their English skills.

Need to keep working. Need to put in more time on Kreyol. Just add that to my to-do list.




  1. A lot of those are not spelled like French words but *sound* like the French equivalent, presumably because the Creole came from French. It might help to learn a little bit of French, or it might just muddy the waters more. I wonder if there are any "Learn Creole" videos/DVDs in the US that someone could send you to help. There might even be something on youtube? Good luck!

    We adopted our youngest daughter from Miami, and the hospital where we picked her up had signs in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. It was fascinating, and given a rough high school French background I could figure out some words if I said them in my head and then translated. ;) It's amazing how much of an oral language it obviously must have been as it evolved.

  2. Hi guys! Don't lose hope, you already have picked up a lot of phases. It's interesting how the words have evolved from the French and their spelling has changed, but sound the same. James and I lived in France for two years and learned a lot of French. I think learning French would help you indeed as I recognized most of the words on your list. Practice your language skills during lunch with the kids, if that's allowed. Watch TV when you can and listen to music. All of these will help you train your ear to the new language. Bon Courage!! ;-) ~Becca



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