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, March 22, 2014

Ok, 2 questions: 1. Is using bon as an adverb bad grammar like it is in English? When I'm asked ........

Ok, 2 questions: 
1. Is using bon as an adverb bad grammar like it is in English? When I'm asked if I speak creole I always say "Pa bon" as a little joke (I thought at least) to myself.
2. Do Haitians not do a whole lot of hugging? Even spending several months in Haiti I can't really remember ever seeing anyone get hugged...


Instead of “bon”, use “byen”.  Pa bon” here comes out as “sinful, defective, or faulty”.
Pa byen” or even better “Pa twò byen” will work best.

No, some Haitians (in Haiti), don’t hug, at least not in public.  We kiss on the cheek.  You can go wild and kiss on BOTH cheeks.  That would be very special.   
Haitians overseas do hug a lot tough.

It’s not uncommon that some Haitians would feel awkward hugging even their mother or father. I was taught to kiss on the cheek to greet, to show respect and reverence.

I remember when I just came to the USA, I kept going to kiss my mom’s landlord on his cheek every time he came to collect the rent.   One day my mother pulled me aside and told me, “This is the US, no kissing strangers on the cheek.” It took me a long time to get used to not going to someone face and kiss them when I greeted them.

Anyways after I came to the US, I really wanted to try some of that hugging :).  I was kind of anxious… mostly because I was not sure where to lean my head, ….was it the left of right?   What if I unintentionally bump face with a stranger I was trying to hug….lol!   So I had to wait to practice with my husband.  And I wasted no time.  As soon as I met him…. there was lots of hugging going on :)  Frankly, it felt good to embrace someone so closely.... no space in between us.  Hugging was great :)

After a few years in the USA I went back to Haiti and would you believe I got in trouble for hugging a man who was a classmate and whom I had known all my life?
Hugging is powerful. In March 2010 after Haiti's earthquake, I went to Haiti to visit my brother, Siméon, who's about 15 years younger than I.  As I was leaving at the airport I threw my reluctance out the window and hugged him for at least a few seconds.  Right then and there this young man broke down in tears.  He wrote to me later that he's never felt a hug before and how he felt that the hug was a blanket of love that was laid upon him. 

Anyways, now sometimes in Haiti, if I have to hug someone, I do ask, Eske m ka ba w yon akolad?  - Can I give you a hug? Especially if it’s someone of a different sex.

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


  1. That's a really sweet story. Thanks so much!

  2. Wowwww Mandaly! Your story about your brother gave me goosebumps literally!!

    Menaj mwen se Ayisyen. And we hug a lot. As I read your story I remember our last airport scene. We were hugging goodbye right in front the check in line and he gave me little kisses on my neck (he's so special <3) :) Then after a few seconds he just stopped and said "OK too much romance!" Lol

    Mesi anpil anpil anpil pou tout w fe! I am determined to learn Creole so I can speak to his mom.
    Mwen pap lage!