Bonjou! Learn to Speak Haitian Creole

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bonswa! I just picked up the book "Haitian Creole for Adoptive Familes" for a little extra practice with some CD's. I am familar with PA meaning "negative, or not" and also with it being a possesive, but in this book they use it in a way I don't understand. ....

"Bonswa!
I just picked up the book "Haitian Creole for Adoptive Familes" for a little
extra practice with some CD's.

I am familiar with PA meaning "negative, or not" and also with it being a
possesive, but in this book they use it in a way I don't understand.

For instance the following are their translations:
Are you hungry?
Ou pa grangou?
Doesn't that mean "you are not hungry?"

Do you need help:
Ou pa bezwen m' ede ou?
Again, doesn't that mean, you don't want me to help you?

Do you want more?
Ou pa vle plis?
Again I would assume that means "you don't want more"
I thought the correct translation would be more like:
Eske ou vle plis?

What am I missing?"


ANSWER:
Your are right, this would be confusing to any H. Creole learner who is expecting a simple interrogative sentence.
What they are using in this book is a negative interrogative sentence.
I'm not sure why they chose to go that route, but your "correct translation" (at the end of your question) should be the one to start with if you're learning the language.

Ou pa grangou? (Eske ou pa grangou?)
Aren't you hungry?

Ou pa bezwen m ede ou? (Eske ou pa bezwen m ede w?)
Don't you need me to help you?

Ou pa vle plis? (Eske ou pa vle plis?)
Don't you want more?

Dakò Mèsi :)
Haitian Creole ↔ English Reference, Look up Haitian Creole and English Words

9 comments:

  1. We are familiar with this book written for English speakers adopting Haitian children. We've wondered if using pa in these sentences is more like what a small child would expect to hear from his/her mama. It seems like we do hear questions phrased this way in hc very frequently. What do you think Mandaly?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we do phrase our questions this way sometimes, but it is not specifically geared towards children. This manner of asking questions may be more about 'second nature' then anything else.

      Delete
  2. I am wondering the same--if we have time and ability to learn to ask these questions both ways, which would be preferable?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Asking the question, basically without "pa" is where to start.
      That is the type of question Haitian Creole speakers would expect in the first place :)

      Delete
  3. Let me ask one more thing. I know the author of this little book, and she would appreciate constructive criticism. Mandaly, would you recommend changing those sentences or leaving them as is? Like changing "ou pa grangou?" to "eske ou grangou?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To leave these sentences as is might mislead the new HC language learner.
      I think it would be helpful if the author elaborated more on the instances where a Creole speaker would favor "Ou pa grangou? over Eske ou grangou?
      Offering literal translations are also helpful too.

      Dakò :)

      Mèsi pou kesyon ou.

      Delete
  4. Thanks so much, Mandaly! Blessings!

    ReplyDelete