Being Haitian and not knowing how to read or write in Kreyol can be very frustrating. Admitting it and asking for help is sometimes worse, people have a tendency of making me feel guilty or incompetent for not knowing.
In an effort to learn Kreyol before attempting to tackle French I found Eric and Beth site who explain how they learned the language and created this life saver of a cheat sheet.
Tim Ferriss, author and blogger provides a list of thirteen sentences that, when translated, give you a quick snapshot of the grammar structure in the language. He also recommends learning helping verbs first (verbs like want, need, like, etc.), which can be easily paired with non conjugated verbs (want to eat, need to sleep, etc.). Once you understand how those thirteen sentences work, memorize a handful of helping verbs, and build a rudimentary vocabulary (100 of the most frequently used words make up 50% of all written English; 300 words, 65%) , you have the foundation you need to begin speaking. – Eric and Beth site
The site goes on with some very useful tips on Grammar. To begin, here are the thirteen sentences you can use to deconstruct the grammar of a language:
The apple is red.
It is John’s apple.
I give John the apple.
We give him the apple.
He gives it to John.
She gives it to John.
Is the apple red?
The apples are red.
I must give it to him.
I want to give it to her.
I’m going to know tomorrow.
I have eaten the apple.
I can’t eat the apple.
My first challenge was to translate these sentences in to Haitian creole. There are many translation tools available online, but I highly suggest staying away from them. The best resource for this task is, obviously, a native speaker. I enlisted the help of one of my Haitian friends, and was given this list of Haitian Creole sentences:
Pom nan rouj.
Pom nan se pou Jan.
Mwen bay Jan Pom nan.
Nou ba li Pom nan.
Li bay Jan li.
Li bay Jan li.
Eske Pom nan rouj?
Pom yo rouj.
Mwen dwe ba li li.
Mwen vle ba li li.
Mwen ap chache konnen demen.
Mwen te manje Pom nan.
Mwen paka manje Pom nan.
- Verbs have no conjugations and are the same regardless of gender, pronoun, or tense. (GLORY!)
- Second person pronouns (he/she) are the same for both genders (li). Other pronouns are mwen for I, ou for you, nou for us, and yo for them.
- Negations are created using the word pa.
- The fundamental sentence structure is the same as English: subject, verb, object.
- Eske is often used for asking a question.
- For future/past tenses, add either ap or te before the verb.
Continue Reading on Eric and Beth website.
Sweet Coconuts is a fantastic Haitian Creole language resource and learning site for those who are learning to speak Haitian Creole. Below is a video summary of the Haitian Creole Alphabet project.
Here’s another great resource video from Sweet Coconuts.