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!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Would you give me background information on the Kreyol word "genyen"? Is it from the French or West African languages? Also, is it known, at least in some cases, what specific West African language in particular that Africanized Kreyol words come from?

It's from French GAGNER which means TO WIN, TO EARN
GENYEN (GEN, GAN, or GANYEN), in Creole, means to have, to possess, to own, or to win.  Also means there is or there are.  It's also used to ask "What's wrong?", "What's goign on?"
Some examples:
1.  Nou gen twa pitit.
     We have three children.

2.  Mwen genyen yon bagay pou m di w.
     I have something to tell you. 

3. Ekip Eagles la genyen match la jodi a.
    The Eagles team won the match today.

4.  Si'm te genyen lotri a mwen pa ta janm travay.
     If I won the lottery I would never work.

5. Ganyen 2 mil elèv nan lekòl sa a.
    There are 2,000 students in this school. 

6. Sa'w genyen?  Mwen pa gen anyen.
    What's wrong?  Nothing's wrong.

7. Sa k genyen?
     What's going on?

About more than 90% of the Haitian Creole vocabulary words is French. The rest might have come from the indigenous Taïnos (first inhabitants of the islands of Hispaniola, now Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Spanish, portuguese, English, Dutch and others... and of course many West African dialects.  The West African slaves that were brought to Haiti spoke many many dialects.  It is also believed that some of them had spoken another form of Creole that they had learned in Africa.  And also they might have started to speak another form of pidgin language during the voyage to Haiti, as a result of trying to communicate with each other.  It is not specifically known which West African languages had more influence of the Haitian Creole language, but the Creole grammar is often said to resemble the following African languages: Ewe, Yoruba, or Wolof. I think you should keep in mind, also, that many tribes who lived in West Africa during the slave trade to Haiti and the Caribbean islands have either moved, or are probably not in existence as an independent tribe.  So, we might not know all the West African dialects which took a small part in constructing the Creole language.

Haitian Creole ↔ English Reference, Look up Haitian Creole and English Words

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