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Haitian Creole Alphabet

Creole Word of the Week: Konbit

In a more specific context, a konbit  is a type of cooperative labor exchange that the farming system in Haiti once relied on.  A landowner would invite people to help clear, till, plant, weed, or harvest their field. They would provide a meal for the workers, and usually reciprocate by helping those workers in their own fields. This system of solidarity has virtually disappeared in Haiti. However, the term remains very popular in contemporary Haiti. It is used to refer to any type of collective work.

More about konbit from our online dictionary.

With over 20,000 entries, this is the largest English <> Haitian Creole dictionary available online. It will help you find the Creole translations in context of English words along with examples of use. This dictionary continues to grow and improve as well. Click here!

Creole Word of the Week: Kongo

The term “kongo” is interesting because while it can be used as a way to describe a of sense pride, it can also be used as an insult.  Haitians who embrace their African ancestry proudly define themselves as “pure kongos”.  On the contrary,  it is often used as a  pejorative term to describe someone who is submissive or unsophisticated from the countryside. It is also used to describe someone who is dressed in a ridiculous way. This expression comes from the fact that the Africans from the Congo tribe liked to wear bright colors. This contrast is a true reflection of Haitian society; there are those who are proud of their African roots, and there are those who make a mockery of out it.    

More about kongo from our online dictionary.

With over 20,000 entries, this is the largest English <> Haitian Creole dictionary available online. It will help you find the Creole translations in context of English words along with examples of use. This dictionary continues to grow and improve as well. Click here!

Creole Word of the Week: Mawon

The word « mawon », or « maroon » in English, is derived from the American Spanish word cimarrón, meaning “wild” or “untamed”. The word was first used in Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) to refer to feral cattle. In the early days of the colonial period, it was used to refer to enslaved indigenous peoples who escaped to the hills. By the early 1530s, it was used to refer to African slaves who did the same and mixed with the indigenous peoples to form independent settlements throughout the Americas. Some suggest that the word derives ultimately from the Arawakan root word simarabo, construed as “fugitive”, in the Arawakan language spoken by the Taíno people native to the island. In contemporary Haiti, mawon refers to someone who is hiding.

More about mawon from our online dictionary.

With over 20,000 entries, this is the largest English <> Haitian Creole dictionary available online. It will help you find the Creole translations in context of English words along with examples of use. This dictionary continues to grow and improve as well. Click here!

Creole Word of the Week: Zenglendo

Zenglendo has its etymological roots in the word zenglen, creole for sharp pieces of glass. In the 1840’s, it was the name given to the secret police force that served under Faustin Soulouque. The “Zenglens” later on became a model for François Duvalier’s Tonton Makouts. After Jean-Claude Duvalier went into exile, zenglendo referred to criminals recruited from groups ranging from the marginal social strata found in working-class districts to police officers, usually acting at night in civilian clothes with official weapons. Some of the violence was assumed to be purely criminal, without political motivation. However, it was widely believed that they operated under the cover, or with the express tacit consent of the police. Today the word is used to refer to criminals, gangsters, thugs, burglars, and the like.

More about zenglendo from our online dictionary.

With over 20,000 entries, this is the largest English <> Haitian Creole dictionary available online. It will help you find the Creole translations in context of English words along with examples of use. This dictionary continues to grow and improve as well. Click here!

Creole Word of the Week: Lavalas

Since Jean-Claude Duvalier’s flight from Haiti in 1986, struggle played out openly and with brutal repression of the Haitian masses. Five different regimes attempted to govern the country. Political chaos ensued. Finally, in 1990, Haiti had its first democratic election after 29 years of dictatorship. One of the most popular candidates was Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a priest who campaigned as a champion for the poor. During the campaign, Aristide asked Haitians to form a “lavalas” to block his opponent, Roger Lafontant, a powerful “tonton makout” who represented Duvalierism.

Lavalas is translated as avalanche. It is a description of violent torrents and sometimes very destructive flood coming from strong and long showers. Lafontant was eventually excluded from the elections on legal grounds and Aristide was overwhelmingly elected President in Haiti’s first democratic election. Since then, Lavalas has been used for any organization or political party associated with Aristide.

More about lavalas from our online dictionary.

With over 20,000 entries, this is the largest English <> Haitian Creole dictionary available online. It will help you find the Creole translations in context of English words along with examples of use. This dictionary continues to grow and improve as well. Click here!

Creole Word of the Week: Boukan

When Columbus landed in the Caribbean in 1492, the first humans he encountered were the Taino, an Arawak people who were the principal inhabitants of what are now Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. They spoke Taino.

Although the language is now extinct, many Taino words have become a part of the local languages of the Caribbean and in the modern English language of today such as barbeque, canoe, and hurricane. Also, the name of Haiti comes from the indigenous Taino language which was the native name given to the entire island of Hispaniola to mean “land of high mountains.” Boukan, which translates into bonfire, is another word that we inherited from the Taino language.

More about boukan from our online dictionary

With over 20,000 entries, this is the largest English <> Haitian Creole dictionary available online. It will help you find the Creole translations in context of English words along with examples of use. This dictionary continues to grow and improve as well. Click here!

Creole Word of the Week: Potomitan

The term potomitan, or central pillar, is often used to refer to women in Haiti because of their hard work and important role in society.   This term is originated from the Vodou religion. It is the column, or pillar, that stands in the middle of the sacred temple.  Like a woman who is considered as the main support for every family, the potomitan is one of the most important elements in every Vodou ceremony. Everything revolves around it.

More about potomitan from our online dictionary

With over 20,000 entries, this is the largest English <> Haitian Creole dictionary available online. It will help you find the Creole translations in context of English words along with examples of use. This dictionary continues to grow and improve as well. Click here!

Creole Word of the Week: Babouk├Ęt

A baboukèt, or muzzle, is a device that is placed over the snout of an animal to keep it from biting or otherwise opening its mouth. The Haitian society, especially the media, experienced tight government censorship during the Duvalier era. When the dictator fled into exile in 1986, the long-silenced public rejoiced in their freedom of speech. One of the popular expressions from that era is “Baboukèt la tonbe!” (the muzzle has fallen), which means that the people could finally speak freely.

More about baboukèt from our online dictionary

With over 20,000 entries, this is the largest English <> Haitian Creole dictionary available online. It will help you find the Creole translations in context of English words along with examples of use. This dictionary continues to grow and improve as well. Click here!

Creole Word of the Week: Jovi

The Africans brought their languages and religions with them during the Slave Trade. Vodou, which means spirit or deity in the fon language, is a creolized religion forged by African descendants that were brought to Haiti and Christianized by Roman Catholic missionaries. Many aspects of the Vodou religion are influenced by African languages and the Vodou religion has its own sacred language. This sacred language is mainly used for worship, songs, prayer, and of instruction for the religious system. A layperson or non-practitioner would have trouble understanding this sacred language and it requires gradual acculturation to master its outer and inner meanings.

The word “jovi”, which means children, is one of those words from the sacred Vodou language.  This language has been made available to the public through rasin, or roots, a Haitian musical style with elements of traditional Haitian Vodou ceremonial and folkloric music combined with rock and roll.

 

With over 20,000 entries, this is the largest English <> Haitian Creole dictionary available online. It will help you find the Creole translations in context of English words along with examples of use. This dictionary continues to grow and improve as well. Click here!

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