Adventures in Creole as a 2nd Language

By | 8:19 AM 1 comment

Creole is the native tongue of Haiti, and we are all learning it at varying speeds. Jeremiah and Ella seem to have been gifted with an ability to absorb languages easily and by far are doing the best. The boys, Zoe, and I...well, we have to work a little bit harder.

8 months of living immersed in Creole has not been without some...uh, blunders:

  • Like the time we were told that Zoe's nickname of ZoZo actually meant a slang term for a mans genitals. Yeah, breaking that habit was hard.

  • Or the time I went to the store next door to buy "Cat Limonades" (4 drinks) and the shop owner kept trying to give me minutes for my cell phone? I'm still scratching my head over that interaction. 

  • Then there is the time Jeremiah made a phone call and asked the lady who answered if she "monge engle" (ate English).

  • Or the time I asked what the creole word for poop was (with 34 children, believe me when the subject comes up enough for me to need to know that word!) and someone thought it would be funny to tell me the curse word for it. The Engligh equivalent of s*it. It was a while before someone else filled me in that I might not want to be saying that word to the kids. Nice.

  • Or the way Ezra says Merci (thank you) sounding more like he just arrived from the backwoods of Alabama "Mur-Seeee" that makes everyone laugh.

I could go on and on, but I won't...for I only have material that implicates myself now =)

Despite the blunders, here are a few things that have helped us with learning the language here:

1) A brainscape app that teaches French Creole.

2) Learning the phrase "Kijan an de __________ an Creole" (how do you say ________ in Creole) the first we we moved here and asking it all the stinking time.

3) Sitting down and talking with our neighbors who don't speak any English and just asking question after question after question. They seemed more than happy to help our efforts and it did a lot towards creating a friendly relationship with them.

4) Making the effort. Yes, we miss a lot. Yes, we blunder a lot. But we also learn a lot through our mistakes and our efforts seem to go a long long way in building the trust and respect of the Haitian people.

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Erin Snyder said...

That is hilarious that they told you the cuss word for poop!! :) Sounds like something Stevo would do...