Bonjou! Learn to Speak Haitian Creole

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Most requested translations added here for your convenience: I love you → Mwen renmen w. I miss you → Mwen sonje w. My love!Lanmou mwen!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Do you have a favorite novel in Creole? If so, do you know where one can purchase it?

I can think of only a few Haitian Creole novels that have really impressed me... unfortunately :-|
I'll take this opportunity to ask if anyone out there knows of a good novel written TOTALLY in Haitian Creole (not French), please let us know about it (and where to buy it), especially the ones that may be a good read for learners of the language.
Thanks :)

Here are a few that I wouldn't mind reading again:

M'ap Viv Toujou by Evelyne Nacier (I bought this from Libreri Mapou in Miami).  It is the biography of a Haitian woman, who basically chose to air her family's dirty laundry by writing a book.  Evelyne Nacier puts herself (and her kids) on a pedestal and lashes out at everyone in her family (her mom, her dad, her brother and sister, her ex-husband, etc...).  The book is kind of repetitious but you won't get bored reading it.

Lafami Bonplezi 4èm edisyon by Maude Heurtelou (I bought it from
This one was a page turner for me because the characters in the book seems so familiar to Haitians I was brought up with much prejudice, rowdiness, naiveté ...  A very small part of the dialogue in this book is in French (or broken French).
I did buy another of Heurtelou's books Sezisman which seems to be a sequel to Lafami Bonplezi, but I have not been able to finish it yet.

I loved reading Nan Savann Dezole by Dr. Paul Antoine (I bought this one on Amazon).  This book's has got a lot of big Creole words that you won't find in any dictionaries.  This book is preachy at times.  Dr. Antoine does paint a beautiful picture of life in the outskirts of Haiti.  The story is about a young boy who thought he was being taken to Haiti's capital to go to secondary school, but ended up being a servant to a rich family instead.

You may also want to try Jacques Roumain's Fòs Lawouze, the Creole adaptation by Maude Heurtelou (If you haven't read it yet). Written in dialogue form, it's a great novel.  You'll find the abridged version written in elementary Creole online (free) from the University of Kansas website dedicated to Creole studies. Just google Chita pa bay.
Haitian Creole ↔ English Reference, Look up Haitian Creole and English Words


  1. Thank you. I have already read "Lafanmi Bonplezi" and "Chita pa Bay" (I was once a student of Bryant Freeman's at the University of Kansas).

    I have been working my way through Koleksyon Souf Nouvo, a collection of 100 page-ish Creole novels printed in 2008. I was only able to get them in Haiti at La Pleiade bookstore in Petionville. So far I have read "Epi yon jou konsa tèt Pastè Bab pati," and I am working on "Zig Lavi" and "Rete! Kote Lamèsi?"

    I highly highly recommend them. I am reading them as a student, so I do not get everything, but they are a good demonstration of the expressive power and legitimacy of Creole as a medium for literature and art.

    ("Kote Lamèsi," Josaphat-Robert Large, pg 11)

    "Mezanmi, kote nou prale? Nou pa gen chimen devan nou. Pa gen santye nonplis. S'on ravin ki fann debò ki blayi devan m nan. Kote nou prale? Pandanstan, linivè limenm, l'ap vanse. Nan miwa tan modèn, nan televisyon lavni, mwen wè tout pèp ap make lepa pou vanse, al nan randevou ak pwogrè. Mwen wè timoun lòt bò dlo ak linèt envansyon yo, y'ap kalkile ki distans ki separe lavi ak lavni. Mwenmenm menm, mwen la a, ak bourik chaje ak bannann mi, ak yon bann betiz nan lespri m. La a, mwen s'on madigra ki pap janm chanje inifòm."

    1. Thanks for sharing.
      This is just beautiful writing!
      If you love Kote Lamèsi. you'll also love Nan Savann Dezole.

      Some of the Koleksyon Souf Nouvo books are on googlebooks and the Haitian Book Centre. Florida International University and the University of Florida libraries may have some Haitian Creole novels.
      If you're ever in the Miami, Florida or Brooklyn, New York, do visit the Libreri Mapou there so that you may browse their Haitian Creole book collection.
      I'll keep my eyes open for more info....

  2. :) Now I have a grammar question about that quote:

    "S'on ravin ki fann debò ki blayi devan m nan"

    What is the final "nan" doing in this sentence? I presume it is the definite article, but I do not know what word it is referring back to. Thanks!

    1. Yes, you’re right. It’s a definite article.
      That is a definite article which goes with the contracted possessive adjective “M”.

      As you know, there are five different definite articles in Haitian Creole (a, an, la, lan, nan), and these articles alternate, NOT ACCORDING TO THE NOUN/WORD THEY MODIFY, but according to the word/letter they IMMEDIATELY FOLLOW.

      Chapo John nan - The hat of John
      The definite article ‘nan’ above is affected by JOHN (which it immediately follows) even though it modifies the noun HAT.

      Mwen te renmen pen ou te achte a - I loved the bread that you bought
      The definite article ‘a’ above is affected by ACHTE (which it immediately follows) even though it modifies the Creole noun PEN.

      Li te volè liv pwofesè a. - He stole the book of the teacher.
      The definite article ‘a’ above is affected by PWOFESÈ (which it immediately follows) even though it modifies the noun LIV.
      Now, when it comes to the possessive adjectives, the same thing happens. The articles alternate according to the word they immediately follow.

      When the possessive adjective is accompanied by a definite article, that article will go in accord with the possessive adjectives which it immediately follows, whether it’s a whole word like MWEN, OU, NOU or a contraction like M’, W’, L’, N’.
      Check out how the following contractions affect the definite articles in the next sentences:

      papye mwen an - my paper
      papye m nan - my paper

      gode ou ayour cup
      gode w layour cup

      chapo li ahis hat
      chapo l lahis hat

      Jou nou an riveOur day has come
      Jou n nan riveOur day has come

      So, grammatically, that is what you are looking at in this sentence: S'on ravin ki fann debò ki blayi DEVAN M NAN

      I’ll also write this sentence in a non contracted form so that you may see that the possessive adjective after the word DEVAN was contracted:

      (Non contracted)Se yon ravin ki fann de(2) bò ki blayi DEVAN MWEN AN
      (Contracted) S'on ravin ki fann debò ki blayi DEVAN M NAN
      (Literally)It’s a ravine that is split both sides that is spread at MY FRONT
      (Translation)A ravine split in two is spread out IN FRONT OF ME
      (A better translation:) The road before me runs through a ravine

      FYI , Creole speakers do the same thing when they say BEHIND ME.
      You will hear them say:
      Genyen yon chèz DÈYÈ M NAN
      There’s a chair at MY BACK
      There’s a chair BEHIND ME

  3. Ah! I did not realize "devan/dèyè" could function as nouns as well as prepositions.

    Thank you!