Did you know that as part of its mission, HPP promotes Haitian culture through positive social and educational discourse between its members and the public at large? Recently, HPP launched a Haitian Creole Language Meetup to encourage both native and non-native speakers to mutually share and grow their knowledge and understanding of Haitian Creole (Kreyól Ayisyen or Kreyól). As a native speaker who grew up during a time in Haiti when Kreyól was not taught in schools, I must admit that I did not have a comprehensive understanding of the language. A great many of my compatriots share my sentiments in this regard. A comprehensive understanding of Kreyól means that I am able to not only speak, listen, and understand, but also read, write, translate, and interpret the language properly. On top of that, a comprehensive understanding of the language means that I am able to communicate the culture of the people of that language. The official orthography of Kreyól, implemented by Haiti’s National Pedagogical Institute (Institut Pedagogique National or “IPN”), was not formally recognized by the Haitian government until 1979. While the Kreyól language has been spoken in Haiti since the plantation/chattel slave economy of the 1600s, it was not recognized as the official language of the Island until the 1987 Haitian Constitution. Even then, it took a change of a decade for it to make its way to the national curriculum.
Why the history lesson on Kreyól? There are outdated orthographical spellings in Kreyól that create confusion among native speakers and non-native speakers alike. There are two older Kreyól orthography standards, McConnell-Laubach (used in the 1940s) and Faublas-Pressoir (used from the 1950s until the 1979 IPN standard), still in circulation. As an example, many hymn books, written using the Faublas-Pressoir orthographical standard, are still circulating in churches to this day. There must be common acceptance of the standards and a comprehensive understanding of the language being used. Anyone who does not take the time to study his/her native language does not value it. If you are spelling the Kreyól word for “me” as “mouin” or for “comb” as “pengn” then you are behind the times as to proper spelling in Kreyól. Join HPP at the upcoming Meetups and together we will deepen our understanding of our cherished Kreyól Ayisyen.
HPP’s Creole Language Meetup group meets every other Thursday at a chosen location based on user preference. To register for the next Meetup, visit https://www.phillyhpp.org/event or https://www.meetup.com/Philadelphia-Creole-Language-Culture-Meetup-Group/.