Haitian Creole is one of the world’s newest languages, if not the newest. In the 1700s and 1800s, it developed as the result of contact between enslaved Africans and French settlers in a French colony that is known today as The Republic of Haiti.
As such, it uses many of the grammatical rules of West African languages but incorporates the grammar of the French language.
For this reason, many familiar French words may be detectable to English speakers who read the language or hear it spoken due to the close contact between French and English over centuries.
But because Haitian Creole is new and exists on a relatively isolated island, there are many misconceptions about it, which we will attempt to clear up here.
Is Haitian Creole a Real Language?
One of the most common misconceptions about Haitian Creole is that it is not a real language. This is an unfortunate assumption stemming from prejudice based on the belief that a language must belong to a nation with a people and a people and a governing body that are native to the area.
If that were the case, then all current forms of English would be illegitimate as well. While The Republic of Haiti is an independent nation in its own right, it is not seen this way by some.
The Haitian nation was created by slaves who successfully revolted against their enslavers and took ownership of the part of the Caribbean Island to which they were taken. The perception of the illegitimacy of the Haitian people and their language may come from the false notion that their settlement of the area was not established in the proper way, though the reasoning behind this type of thinking is clearly fallacious.
The assumption that Haitian Creole is not a legitimate language may also come from the misapprehension that languages must either be invented from whole cloth by an indigenous people or that they must be passed down to the people through official standardization, the way most modern English speakers receive their ideas about language.
In reality, no language on Earth is entirely pure, except maybe computer binary code. Human languages change over time with use and with exposure to neighboring languages and dialects. By looking at the many different ways English is spoken in the United Kingdom and in the United States, it should be easy to see how languages change over time and how they can even develop into new languages with isolation, cross-pollination, and innovation.
One great example is that of Mandarin Chinese. This language is based on a Beijing dialect and has been heavily influenced by other Chinese dialects. Mandarin bears clear differences from traditional Chinese, but today it is recognized as the most widely spoken language in the world.
Finally, we have examples of Old, Middle, and modern Standardized English. If an English speaker who thinks Haitian Creole is not a real language heard Old English spoken, he would definitely think it was another language. Consider the fact that in Old English the word Knight is pronounced Kah-Nig-it, and Knife is pronounced Kah-Nife-eyh. Over time, those words developed into forms that are easier to say and left us with the seemingly strange convention of the silent K.
Taking all of this into consideration, we can see that the only important difference between Haitian Creole and other modern languages is the fact that it developed quickly and recently.
Perhaps the one disadvantage Haitian Creole has is its newness coupled with the relative isolation of the people who speak it most. Haiti is a poor nation, owing to the difficult circumstances surrounding its origin and the limited natural resources.
Since Haiti is geographically near to the United States, it stands to reason that many emigrants would leave Haiti for the US. This makes quality, professional language translation services of great importance.
Unfortunately, many Haitian speakers turn to automated, online translation tools. These simply cannot do a good job. There is no translation program that can grasp the novel nuances of this language with its West African rules, French grammar, and Spanish influences.
The unusual structure and grammar of Haitian Creole make it especially important for those seeking to take up residence in the US to obtain professional translation services. This is, even more, the case as many English speakers do not accept the conventions of Haitian Creole as legitimate.
For example, even Journalists from the New York Times have insisted that the religion of Haiti, namely Vodou, should be spelled “Voodoo” despite native practitioners claiming otherwise. For English speakers in the know, this is as embarrassing as it is unhelpful.
In addition to this, Haiti is also an established mining exporter. This means that international corporations must frequently enact partnerships with native Haitian Creole speakers. Because there really is no other language on Earth quite like it, quality translation services rendered by a translation expert who is also a native Haitian Creole speaker are a necessity for successful business relationships.
What Languages are Closest to Haitian Creole?
If Haitian Creole were a house rather than a language, its bricks would be French, and its structure would be West African.
That is to say, its grammar is derived from the African languages Fongbe, and Igbo of the Volta-Congo branch of languages, and its vocabulary is largely French.
Unlike French, verbs are not conjugated in Haitian Creole, nouns are pluralized by adding an article rather than adding an S, and articles follow nouns rather than precede them. The language is also heavily influenced by English and Spanish.
Is Haitian Creole a Hard Language to Learn?
The simple answer to this question would be, yes, it is. However, for someone determined to learn it, the rules of Haitian Creole are not that difficult to understand. They are logical and consistent; they are just different or reversed compared to the rules that speakers of French or English are used to.
Learning the rules described above and common Haitian articles is a great way to start.
In the meantime, if you require translation services to or from Haitian Creole, your best option is to seek translation services from a trained translation expert who is also a native Haitian Creole speaker.