Haitian Creole

Haitian Creole is one of the two official languages of Haiti along with French. Standard French is used in business and in school, while at home all Haitians speak Creole. It is spoken by 12 million people, including the entire 9.6 million Haitians living in Haiti, and nearly 3 million speakers reside in the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United States of America, France, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, the Ivory Coast and in Cuba where it is considered to be the second language of the country, with nearly half a million speakers and, over 70% of them being Cuban born and have never sat foot on Haiti's soil. 


Haitian Creole is notable for being the most widely spoken creole language in the world, and for it's extreme influence on other creole languages of many countries in the Caribbean and that of the US state of Louisiana.


Despite being the maternal language of virtually every Haitian since the 18th century, it wouldn't be until 1961, when the famous Haitian poet, writer, teacher, Felix Morisseau-Leroy, through his advocacy writings, forced the Haitian government to recognize the language as one of the official languages of Haiti along with French which was the sole literary language of the country since it's Independence in 1804.


Felix Morisseau-Leroy

                             

Felix was born in Jacmel to a wealthy mulatto family and was home-schooled only in English and French but has always been fascinated by the colorfulness of Haitian Creole. From an early age he engaged himself in writing poems and small plays in Creole, and after receiving his teaching degree at the National University of Haiti, he went against the law and taught classes only in Haitian Creole. He firmly believed that children would have a higher chance of better learning in their maternal language as oppose to French, which was and is still viewed as the language of the educated and elite class of Haiti. Felix also thought that the Haitian Creole language was the most powerful tool to unite the country. Offended by his advocacy and writings, Francois Duvalier sent armed forces to Felix Morisseau-Leroy's house and escorted him to the airport, where he was forced into exile in Ghana.

The formation of Haitian Creole is a very complex one; slaves imported from different countries in Africa to work the fields in Haiti, then Saint-Domingue, all spoke different languages. Anxious to form their own language in an attempt for independence, the slaves incorporated words from their respected languages into the french spoken by the masters; words from the native Taino/Arawaks' and the Spanish language from the previous spaniards masters are also borrowed and induced into their new language. United by one language and of course religion Vodou, Haitian Creole became the slaves's most powerful tool that will ultimately helped them win their fight for independence in 1804.


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