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Old 01-14-2010, 02:03 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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How Close is Haiti's Creole Language To French?

Are they mutually intelligible?
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Old 01-14-2010, 07:15 PM
rocking chair rocking chair is offline
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about like cajun french and canadian french to france french. you could be understood.
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Old 01-14-2010, 07:17 PM
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There was a thread about that some time ago. I'll try to find it again. BRB.

Short answer would be : not very at all.
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Old 01-14-2010, 07:43 PM
Kobal2 Kobal2 is offline
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There you go
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Old 01-14-2010, 08:30 PM
Kyla Kyla is offline
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One of my best friends is French, and has expressed an interest in working in Haiti (she's working on her masters in public health). I asked her this awhile ago, and she told me she can't understand Haitian Creole very well, but it is still close enough to French that she thinks she could pick it up very quickly.
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Old 01-15-2010, 01:49 AM
Cerowyn Cerowyn is offline
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Originally Posted by rocking chair View Post
about like cajun french and canadian french to france french. you could be understood.
This is inaccurate. "Standard" (as thought of in France) French and Canadian French are much, much closer to each other than Cajun French or Haitian Creole are to anything else.
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Old 01-15-2010, 05:02 AM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Originally Posted by Cerowyn View Post
This is inaccurate. "Standard" (as thought of in France) French and Canadian French are much, much closer to each other than Cajun French or Haitian Creole are to anything else.

Seconded. Apart from the odd word here and there, the only problem with understanding canadian french is people with a really thick accent. Both are essentially the same language, like british and american english (as for cajun, I once watched a guy interviewed on TV with subtitles and having missed the context didn't notice during the whole interview that he was actually speaking cajun french)

On the other hand, caraibeans french creoles use a much different vocabulary (even though generally derived in some form or another from original french words, see the example given above by another poster where a creole word is composed by the last part of a first french word and the first part of a second one) and grammar, and it's generally mostly not understandable for a speaker of standart french (and anyway requires a lot of guesswork).
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Old 12-20-2011, 01:02 AM
DCal DCal is offline
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Originally Posted by Cerowyn View Post
This is inaccurate. "Standard" (as thought of in France) French and Canadian French are much, much closer to each other than Cajun French or Haitian Creole are to anything else.
I was looking around and came across the incorrect statement. So I had to register and post a correction.

Cajun french is nearly identical to the french spoken in New Brunswick Canada. Cajun french is about as intelligible to standard french as canadian french is. It is over 95% french words with only a few borrowed words.

What you were thinking of is Louisiana Creole French which is a completely different language.
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Old 12-20-2011, 03:32 AM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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Kreyl ayisyen in comparison with French is like Jamaican patois compared to English. If you listen to spoken Jamaican patois (beginning at 0:34 in the linked clip), see how much you can understand of it. As you listen to the patois, keep in mind that almost all of the vocabulary comes from English. The grammar, however, is quite different.

That will give you some idea of the intelligibility between French and Kreyl. Except that Kreyl is the official language of a nation, and as such has an established literary standard form, while Jamaican patois has low prestige and no official status.
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Old 12-20-2011, 07:52 AM
fisha fisha is offline
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I was in Haiti this year for a while. Native English speaker with four years of French under my belt, a long time ago. A little bit of Spanish. I understood about 50% of oral, very little of written, unless I spoke aloud, it's phonetic. Kids there were taught proper French. My proper French speaking, but no Creole, amused them to no end. My own kids looked at me like I had sprouted a second head when I'd converse in French.

I don't see a huge problem with native French being able to communicate in Creole. It is amazing how tiring it is to speak another language is when you're not used to it.

Last edited by fisha; 12-20-2011 at 07:55 AM.
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:33 AM
matt_mcl matt_mcl is offline
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First, it's necessary to distinguish between Haitian French and Haitian Creole. Haitian French is reasonably similar to the French of France and other French varieties.

Haitian Creole is an entirely separate variety; it resembles French only in that most of the vocabulary is French. The grammar, including many grammatical particles, is wholly different.

Haitian Creole is the best known example of creolization, a linguistic phenomenon that occurs in situations of slavery or other kinds of displacement in which a population is obliged to learn another language without benefit of mass language education. The first step is the creation of a pidgin, a form of communication that uses the vocabulary of the imposed language without a fixed grammar. In the next generation, when children acquire the pidgin as their first language, they impose a grammar on it, resulting in the creation of a fully structured language called a creole.

It's thought that a good part of Haitian Creole grammar is similar to Fon languages spoken in Benin. For example, where French has mes bcanes (my-PL bikes), Haitian has Bekn mwen yo (bike my-pl), similar to Fongbe keke che-le (bike my-PL). Possessive nouns and certain other particles such as articles are also postposed. The grammar is also far more analytical than inflectional like French.

Haitian Creole has recently undergone efforts to develop a standard written form and is now recognized as an official language of Haiti alongside French.

Last edited by matt_mcl; 12-20-2011 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 12-20-2011, 09:33 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna View Post
Kreyl ayisyen in comparison with French is like Jamaican patois compared to English. If you listen to spoken Jamaican patois (beginning at 0:34 in the linked clip), see how much you can understand of it. As you listen to the patois, keep in mind that almost all of the vocabulary comes from English. The grammar, however, is quite different.

That will give you some idea of the intelligibility between French and Kreyl. Except that Kreyl is the official language of a nation, and as such has an established literary standard form, while Jamaican patois has low prestige and no official status.
This is what I was going to recommend as a comparison. An English speaker traveling in the Caribbean will encounter something unintelligible, but what is still a form of English. When I was there years ago, I asked a guy who sort of latched onto us as a "guide" what language he was speaking when he spoke to the other locals (I couldn't understand a word of it). He replied: Broken English. We all had a good laugh.
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Old 12-20-2011, 09:53 AM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna View Post
Kreyl ayisyen in comparison with French is like Jamaican patois compared to English. If you listen to spoken Jamaican patois (beginning at 0:34 in the linked clip), see how much you can understand of it. As you listen to the patois, keep in mind that almost all of the vocabulary comes from English. The grammar, however, is quite different.

That will give you some idea of the intelligibility between French and Kreyl. Except that Kreyl is the official language of a nation, and as such has an established literary standard form, while Jamaican patois has low prestige and no official status.
As the clip shows, many Jamaicans are fluent in more-or-less standard English (spoken with a Jamaican accent) as well as Jamaican patois, which is very difficult to understand for most English speakers.

When I visited Belize, my hosts would switch between standard English when talking to me, and Creole when speaking among themselves.
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Old 12-20-2011, 11:01 AM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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Originally Posted by DCal View Post
I was looking around and came across the incorrect statement. So I had to register and post a correction.

Cajun french is nearly identical to the french spoken in New Brunswick Canada. ...
And the other Maritime Provinces as well. What I've been taught all these years is that the Cajuns are the descendants of Acadians (hence the name) who were exiled from what is now Maritime Canada to Louisiana. Thus, the Cajun and Acadian French dialects are closer to each other historically than they are to Quebec OR France French.
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Old 12-20-2011, 12:46 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
This is what I was going to recommend as a comparison. An English speaker traveling in the Caribbean will encounter something unintelligible, but what is still a form of English. When I was there years ago, I asked a guy who sort of latched onto us as a "guide" what language he was speaking when he spoke to the other locals (I couldn't understand a word of it). He replied: Broken English. We all had a good laugh.
I think this epitomizes the low esteem in which Jamaican patois/Creole is held compared to Haitian Creole. It is regarded as just "bad" or "broken" English, rather than as a language with a distinct grammar.

Here's a classic Cecil column on a mistaken attempt by HUD to produce a brochure in Caribbean English Creole, which was taken as being deeply offensive by some.

However, the examples given of the brochure are not even Jamaican Creole, but rather an attempt at writing a Jamaican English accent phonetically. Jamaican patios is much more different grammatically than what appears in the brochure.

Last edited by Colibri; 12-20-2011 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 12-20-2011, 01:29 PM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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about like cajun french and canadian french to france french. you could be understood.
Not at all. Canadian and French French are essentially identical, with the odd different word here and there. There's as much difference as between British and American English.

Creole, on the other hand, is at best very difficult to understand for a French speaker. Some words will be recognized, some might be guessed if the French speaker pays a lot of attention and try to figure out what the related French word could be, some won't be understood at all. Generally, if I hear of overhear people speaking in Creole, I won't understand what they're saying, even though from time to time a whole sentence will make sense.

It's not totally unintelligible, but still a foreign (though closely related) language. Besides the vocabulary, the grammar, the structure of the sentence, and many very common words (pronouns, for instance) are different. The last part is possibly the most problematic. If you can't readily recognize things like "I am" , "she's going to", etc.. you have a big problem making sense of what is being said, even if you can pinpoint some other words. If in "She came to the town where I live" you only understand "town" and "live", for instance, the Creole speaker could as well use Greek.




I wouldn't say anything about Cajun French, on the other hand. I remember once watching randomly some subtitled interview of an old guy and not noticing that what he was speaking was Cajun French (or anything related to French) until the rest of the broadcast made this clear. Now, it might have been in part an issue of accent, and maybe if I had known he was speaking French, I could have paid attention instead of just reading the subtitles, and understood at least in part, but it seems to me that Cajun French has followed his own somewhat divergent path. This isn't a really informed opinion.
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Old 12-20-2011, 01:37 PM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Not onlu I didn't notice it was a zombie, but I didn't even notice I had already responded. Sorry for that.



Quote:
Originally Posted by DCal View Post


What you were thinking of is Louisiana Creole French which is a completely different language.
Hmm. Thanks for the information. I didn't know that such a language existed. I guess that's what I heard in the interview. How and when did it appear?

Last edited by clairobscur; 12-20-2011 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:25 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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I know of two French speaking Canadians, one from Quebec City and the other from the backwoods of Nova Scotia who cannot understand each other's French. I know one of them fairly well and she told me the story.

I believe that most Hatians can summon up a comprehensible French if they have to. Certainly most of them in Montreal can.

When I go to Barbados, I simply cannot understand any of the native English but they can virtually all summon up some form of mid-Atlantic English.
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:28 AM
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As a native French speaker, I find everyday conversation in Haitian Creole largely unintelligible. However, a few times a caught radio shows in Creole dealing with more formal scholarly discussions. As essentially all the vocabulary came straight from French I found I could understand close to 80% of what they were saying once I had gotten used to the accent. As soon as the banter became more colloquial, though I was lost.
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Old 12-21-2011, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur View Post
Not onlu I didn't notice it was a zombie, but I didn't even notice I had already responded. Sorry for that.





Hmm. Thanks for the information. I didn't know that such a language existed. I guess that's what I heard in the interview. How and when did it appear?

When England took over the eastern part of Canada after the French and Indian War (think it's called the seven years war in Europe), they told the French people living there to become English or GTFO. Some of the ones that GTFO went to what was then French Louisiana, and became known as Cajuns.
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Old 12-21-2011, 11:43 AM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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When England took over the eastern part of Canada after the French and Indian War (think it's called the seven years war in Europe), they told the French people living there to become English or GTFO. Some of the ones that GTFO went to what was then French Louisiana, and became known as Cajuns.
That's not what I was asking. A previous poster stated that besides Cajun French (which would be mostly intelligible for a French speaker), there was also a French based Creole in Louisiana. That's the latter I'm inquiring about.
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Old 12-21-2011, 03:53 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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Originally Posted by clairobscur View Post
That's not what I was asking. A previous poster stated that besides Cajun French (which would be mostly intelligible for a French speaker), there was also a French based Creole in Louisiana. That's the latter I'm inquiring about.
It's more like Haitian Creole than anything else. In fact, it was directly influenced by Haitian Creole because in 1804 with the revolution in Haiti the French slaveowners who got kicked out migrated to Louisiana... and brought slaves with them. How incredibly much would that suck? Your people just won their freedom and right then the slaveowner says come on, we're out of here. So that you have to remain enslaved. Well, that's the story of Louisiana Creole French. I'm guessing that whatever 18th-century African population lived in Louisiana, they spoke the original Louisiana Creole French, but the language as known today came about from the influx of Haitians.
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Old 12-21-2011, 04:58 PM
Hypnagogic Jerk Hypnagogic Jerk is offline
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Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
I know of two French speaking Canadians, one from Quebec City and the other from the backwoods of Nova Scotia who cannot understand each other's French.
The Acadian French spoken in rural Nova Scotia is probably rather different from any standardized French norm. Especially since someone from Nova Scotia is likely to be using English in day-to-day life, and may not know any French other than the one they use with family or close friends.

Quote:
I believe that most Hatians can summon up a comprehensible French if they have to. Certainly most of them in Montreal can.
Educated Haitians can generally speak French in addition to Haitian Creole.

Quote:
Originally Posted by treis View Post
When England took over the eastern part of Canada after the French and Indian War (think it's called the seven years war in Europe), they told the French people living there to become English or GTFO. Some of the ones that GTFO went to what was then French Louisiana, and became known as Cajuns.
That's not quite accurate. The Deportation of the Acadians predates the Conquest of Canada; it actually started in the early stages of the war. Nova Scotia, where the Acadians lived, was already a British colony since the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, but the Acadians had then declared themselves neutral instead of pledging their loyalty as British subjects. And they weren't given the choice to stay or go, they were forcibly deported. Today there aren't very many Acadians living in Nova Scotia, though there are a few. And they were deported to a variety of places. Some made their way to Louisiana and formed the core of Cajun culture, but New Brunswick and other places are also home to a large number of descendents of the Acadians.
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Old 12-21-2011, 05:07 PM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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More on the Louisiana Creole language....

Quote:
Louisiana Creole (Kryol La Lwizyn) (franais: Crole louisianais) is a French Creole language spoken by the Louisiana Creole people of the state of Louisiana. The language consists of elements of French, Spanish, African, and Native American roots.
I heard it spoken in Houston, years ago, in French Town. We've long had a link with Southern Louisiana--both black & white people come to Big Houston looking for jobs. (Or to get away from hurricane damage.) Much of the evolution of Zydeco happened here; Clifton Chenier added R&B to Creole music to suit Louisiana folks dancing in big city clubs. Our predominantly Black parishes with Louisiana roots still hold zydeco dances to raise funds.

Cajun music & Cajun language evolved differently but have close ties. In the old days, Cajun kids were told their language was not "really" French, so they should go with English Only. After D-Day, quite a few Cajun soldiers became useful as translators....
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