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Annou voyé kreyòl douvan douvan

A look at Haitian Creole documentation,
lexicography and morphology

A report by Joseph Marcel Georges

[Haitian Creole version published in
Haïti en Marche, Vol. XXXVI, #01 – éd. 12 au 18 janvier 2022
[English translation : Emmanuel W. Védrine,
Founder of E. W. Védrine Creole Project
Boston, Massaschusetts. USA]


As part of the Creole Month, LangSE (Laboratwa Lang, Sosyete, Edikasyon : Laboratory of Language, Society, Education), affiliated with FLA (Faculté de Linguistique Appliquée University d’État d’Haïti : Faculty of Applied Linguistics, State University of Haiti) organized a scientific afternoon on Tuesday, October 12, 2021. It focused on Haitian Creole (Kreyol) documentation, lexicography and morphology in the native language. We had the first speaker, professor Emmanuel W. Védrine (Bibliographer, editor, lexicographer, linguist, writer, researcher and translator), who completed thirty years of bibliography research and writing of teaching materials. His talked focused on theses and dissertations, and research on Haitian Creole.

In the bibliographer’s presentation, he collected a range of research references produced in Haiti and internationally. Among what he emphasized on was the creation of volumes of dictionaries on Haitian Creole as well as several other teaching materials produced at Indiana University, where he worked as editor at this University's Creole Institute.

On the other hand, Védrine hailed the work of Memwa Sòti (Bachelor’s Theses) produced by the Faculty of Applied Linguistics). His collaboration enables a good number of these publications be available on potomitan web site in the database of Bachelor’s Theses, Theses and Dissertations published from 2011 to 2020.

It was a presentation that allowed teachers and students who were present to discover with happiness tons of works available on Haitian Creole, and access to get their references online (Ref. A Bibliography of Theses and Dissertations related to Haiti from 2011 to 2020 and Essays’models to help Haitian students [high school and university] with writing).

Soon after, LangSE had the honor to receive linguist Nicolas André, a former FLA student, a founding member of the Akademi Kreyòl Ayisyen  (AKA / Haitian Creole Academy), and professor at FIU (Florida International University). In his 25-minutes presentation, André shared his experience in writing dictionaries. But his main focus was on morphology... He took some specific grammatical elements in the language such as: an, ann, and sa.

For the lexicographer, because the principle of the Haitian Creole orthography says a same sound is always written the same way, the sound for "an" cannot be pronounced /ã/ one time, and /ãn/ another time. If there was a principle of lyezon obligatwa / liason obligatoire  (mandatorybinding principle in Haitian Creole), it would not work for just one word: "an".

A key question the presenter put forward is what pedagogical principle could be said: there is a lyezon obigatwa in Haitian Creole between words that begin with an oral vowel and that precede another word that ends with a nasal vowel.

However, he pointed out exceptions for words such as: bon, gen, men, mwen, nan, san, yon, etc... As a Haitian Creole language instructor, Professor André admits that he has encountered cases of English-speaking and French-speaking students who have learned to master the principle that says the letter (digraph) "an" the Haitian Creole alphabet. There is ALWAYS have the /ã/ pronunciation, as well as the letter (digraph) «en». There is ALWAYS have the /ɛ̃/ pronunciation, and the letter (digraph) «on» ALWAYS have the pronunciation /ɔ̃/.

In the description and analysis he presents, he demonstrates how his proposal avoids encountering some pronunciations such as those in the following sentences:
*Mwen pa genn lajann
Mwen pa gen lajan
- Èske nazalizasyon

*Mwen nanvi achte yon navyon
Mwen anvi achte yon avyon
- (Abitid lyezon)

These examples open the door for a wonderful scientific walk the speaker took with the public on the issue of writing in the language. In French, (the teacher who is speaking), lyezon for the word "en" (en Espagne [in Spain], en Haïti [in Haiti], en hiver [in winter]), is also valid for the word "on" (On a assez entendu, on attend toujours [We have heard enough, we're still waiting]). It is valid for "les", "mes", "nos", etc., according to the principles of lyezon in the language. Thus, we find lyezon that are mandatory (lyezon obligatwa : liaison obligatoire), lyezon that are impossible, and lyezon people may choose to make or not. It is true that there are exceptions in these cases, but the rule is not the exception. Now, (the presenter following), if we were to decide when we heard / ãnãgle / or / ãnnayiti / we write "an anglè" (in English) or "an Ayiti" (in Haiti), there are two situations that arise:

1. We violate one of the principles that make Haitian Creole spelling more transparent than many other spellings.

2. We come up with a rule of language that is just an EXCEPTION. Here's how this rule works: There is lyezon in Haitian Creole only for the preposition "an" before a word that begins with a vowel. No other preposition with a nasal consonant as the last sound is not included. Or also, the exception “an" could be more general if we not only consider the "preposition", according to example (2) above.

Professor André went on to say: Just as a language like English has the determinant "AN" as an allomorph for "A" (a man / an apple), our (Kreyol) language shows that it has an allomorphic principle, where certain words (are not only prepositions) there are allomorphs. So we get "ANN" for "AN".


(a) Y ap pale an daki (They are speaking in an allusive manner).

(b) Se yon bag ann ò (It is a gold ring).

Often, an allomorph can be the homonym of another word:  example of the preposition “ann” with the short form for "annou" (let's) is a good example. The spelling "an nou" in the place of "annou" there is no justification, because "annou" is a marker for imperative (first person plural) the same way as "ap" or "te" as other markers for verbs in Haitian Creole verbs. Maybe it's because some people have English "let us" in mind. But even English has the form "let's".

The presenter's conclusion adopted is: "Ann" is not a problem in Haitian Creole. It follows the good principles of the Haitian Creole orthography. "Ann" as a short form of "Annou" has a homonym "Ann" which is an allomorph preposition "An". Another example of allomorph that interests linguist Nicolas André is the form "in" for "en" (digit 1). In southern Haiti, there are places where we hear people say "in" for "an" or "on." Example: Gade yon nèg (Look at a man) becomes Gade in nèg (Look at a man). But this is another debate.

Professor André ended up the presentation with a reflection on the "sa" issue in the phrase “Kite m fè twalèt mwen pou mwen sa abiye (Let me wash up so I can get dressed). The grapheme "sa", according to André, has a general meaning where it is used as a demonstrative in examples such as:

(3) Ou anpeche m pale, mwen pa renmen sa(You stop me from talking, I don't like that). He went on to clarify: "Sa" also serves as the determiner in phrases (4) and (5) below, where there is another element that adds to the singular and plural markings:

(4) Nan kat kay yo, mwen renmen sa a (Of the four houses, I like this one).

(5) Si pou m chwazi plis pase youn, m ap chwazi sa yo (If I have to choose more than one, I will choose these). A homonym for the word "sa" that serves as another variant for the word "kapab" (with its short form André points out: "ka", "kab" [to be able]).


(6) Ban m 20 dola pou m kab achte yon bagay (Give me $ 20 so that I can buy something).

(6a) Ban m 20 dola pou m sa achte yon bagay (Give me $ 20 so that I can buy something).

(7) Nou pa ka pale twò fò (We cannot speak too loudly).

(7a) Nou pa sa pale twò fò (We cannot speak too loudly).

As you can notice, it was a rich scientific Tuesday afternoon. The event was made possible by the technical assistance of the State University Rector's Computer Service, and the FLA's Computer Service (began from 2: 00 and ended at 4:30 after a debate that allowed the two presenters to share their thoughts. LangSE would like to thank all those who were present. It also counts on their presence for all upcoming events.



DEGRAFF, Michel (director). MIT- Haiti Initiativve: • About (Sa l ye) • Events (Aktivite) • Funding • News (Nouvèl) • Organizations (Òganizasyon) • Questions about the Platform (Kesyon sou Platfom lan) • Resources (Resous) • STEM  (Science : Syans, Technology : Teknoloji, Engineering : Jeni, Mathematics: Matematik) • Team (Ekip).

GEORGES, Joseph Marcel. 2006. «L’enseignement de la grammaire: quelle méthodologie?» [Produit e soutenu en 2006 dans le cadre du programme conjoint, FLA / UAG]. 82 pages, Master 2. /Joined Master program between FLA and Université Antilles-Guyane (UAG)].

HAITIAN STUDIES ASSOCIATION. 2006. Standardizing Haitian Creole: a round table discussion. Haitian Studies Association, 18th Conference. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. 2006. [Panel: Emmanuel W. Védrine, Marc Prou, Albert Valdman, Josiane Huducourt-Barnes].

JEAN-BAPTISTE, Dachka. (25 jan.) 2022. «Analyse sociolinguistique du créole haïtien : pratiques linguistiques et langagières des Haïtiens vivant aux États-Unis d’Amérique». Faculté de Linguistique Appliquée (FLA), Université d’État d’Haïti : Faculty of Applied Linguistics, State University of Haiti. [Mémoire de License en Linguistique / Bachelor Thesis in Linguistics. [Promotion 2014-2018]. Noms et prénoms des membres du jury : Bonel Oxiné  (président), Joseph Marcel Georges  (examinateur), Martineau Nelson (directeur).

JOSEPH, Oreste Renel and Emmanuel W. Védrine.“Easy English : an introduction to English for Creole and French speakers”.  • Glossary at the end of book : Glosè nan fen liv la (added by) Emmanuel W. Védrine (ajoute) • including phrases and idioms in the two languages (enkli fraz ak espresyon idyomatik nan de lang yo) • Introduction to English for Kreyol speakers (Entwodiksyon anglè pou kreyolofòn e frankofòn) • More than 1.400 words and idioms accompany them (Plis pase 1.400 mo ak espresyon ki vin ak yo) •  An introduction to English Kreyol and French speakers (une introduction à l'anglais pour les locuteurs créolophones et francophones). Unpub manuscript.

NAAM (National Archeological Anthropological Museo - Curaçao). 2016. Charla Lingwista Haitiano Emmanuel W. Védrine  na NAAM (Curacao). [On Haitian Creole  Bibliography, 200 years of publications. Courtesy: Myriam Lavache (Kreyòl Pale, Kreyòl Konprann Institute of Spoken Kreyol. Curacao; Richenel Ansano (Director of NAAM); Yaniek Pine Védrine (translator).

VALDMAN, Albert et al. (2017), English – English Haitian Creole Bilingual Dictionary. 1103 p. Universe. Bloomington. (Native speakers editing team: Emmanuel W. Védrine, Frenand Léger, Jacques Pierre and Nicolas André).

VALDMAN, Albert et al. (2007), Haitian Creole-English Bilingual Dictionary (the «DICO Project», Vol. I). 781 + xxxiv p. Indiana University-Creole Institute. (Native speakers editing team: Emmanuel W. Védrine, Frenand Léger, Jacques Pierre and Nicolas André).

VALDMAN, Albert.  «Vers un dictionnaire scolaire bilingue pour le créole haïtien» La linguistique Vol. 41 Numéro 1, 2005, pp 83 - 105. [Summary : Résumé -- Cet article décrit un projet visant à produire le premier dictionnaire bilingue créole haïtien-français/français-créole haïtien à destination des scolaires. Il s'ouvre sur un inventaire des principaux dictionnaires bilingues des créoles de base française. Ensuite, il passe en revue le niveau de normalisation atteint par le créole haïtien, puis aborde les questions méthodologiques fondamentales de la lexicographie bilingue, à savoir la délimitation de la nomenclature, la classification des variantes phonologiques et la sélection d'exemples illustratifs. Il se termine par une démonstration de l'utilisation de la technologie informatique en lexicographie et décrit une base de données lexicales informatisées pour le créole haïtien à partir de laquelle peuvent être générés divers types de dictionnaires bilingues et, éventuellement si un tel besoin est ressenti par la communauté créolophone haïtienne, d'un dictionnaire monolingue pour cette langue (réf.  cairn-int.info/journal-la-linguistique-2005-1-page-83.htm].

VALDMAN, Albert.  «Vers une standardisation du créole haïtien». Revue française de linguistique appliquée, Numéro 1, 2005. [Summary : Résumé -- Cet article aborde les principaux problèmes rencontrés par les planificateurs linguistiques dans le développement d'une norme écrite pour le créole haïtien : (1) la sélection parmi les variantes géographiques et sociolinguistiques ; (2) concevoir une orthographe systématique autonome, basée sur la phonologie au lieu d'une orthographe étymologique calquée sur celle du français standard ; (3) traitant des alternances morpho phonologiques qui sont soit des variantes libres, soit qui reflètent une différenciation stylistique. Il aborde en effet la question de l'élaboration d'un dictionnaire monolingue, véritable couronnement du processus de normalisation. (Réf.  cairn-int.info/journal-revue-francaise-de-linguistique-appliquee-2005-1-page-39.htm)].

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. Biographical note of the author : Nòt biyografik otè a.

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 2022. Essays models to help Haitian students (high school and university) with writing.

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 2021. Collection of Haitian Education Materials by Albert Valdman (Collection de Matériel Éducatif Haïtien : Koleksyon Materyèl Edikatif Ayisyen) par Albert Valdman). Ref. Indiana University-Creole Institute’s Collection, Indiana University web links, and information on the closing of the Institute (Summer 2019) after fifty years of functioning under the leadership of its founder and director, Emeritus Professor Albert Valdman.

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 2021. Kèk tèm nan Sezon sechrès Ayiti pou disètasyon : Some themes in (the novel) Sezon sechrès Ayiti for essays. Sezon sechrès Ayiti. (2nd. ed.). JEBCA Editions.  224 p. [© The author’s copyright : © Dwa otè a] . [© Lexical data (for hyper base software for dictionaries) : © Done leksikal (pou lojisyèl ipèbaz pou diksyonè)]. [In Papiamentu language, Temporada di sekura na Haiti. [First original Creole version was published in 1994: Soup to Nuts Publishers, Cambridge, MA. 1994. 128 p. [This novel has been translated to English by the author (Emmanuel W. Védrine)].

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 2021. Online Educational Resources for Haitian Teachers, Students, Schools in Haiti and in Diaspora. Summary in • DeutschEspañolFrançaisKreyòlPapiamento

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 2021. 75 Seventy-five years of research and publications on Haitian Creole (Kreyol).

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W., Joseph Marcel Georges and Fessando Suffren. 2020. A Bibliography of Theses and Dissertations related to Haiti (2011–2020) [including some Bachelor Senior Theses or Memoire de Sortie presented at FLA (Faculté de Linguistique Appliquée, Universite d’État d’Haïti : State University of Haiti].

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 2019. Istwa Entiti Kreyòl la : The Creole Institute history.

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 2019. New words and idioms entering Haitian Creole : Mo nouvo ak espresyon ki antre nan kreyòl.

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 2010. A look at two great dictionaries on Haitian Creole :  Yon koudèy sou 2 (de) gran diksyonè sou kreyòl ayisyen.

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 2010. Collection of published Poems. (in periodicals, anthologies and books).

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 2004. Haitian Creole D-base: Haiti Progrès. [Model of edited dababase to write Haitian Creole dictionaries : Modèl bank done edite pou ekri diksyonè kreyòl.

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. Haiti’s Super Web Directory & Diaspora : Gran Ànyè Ayiti & Dyaspora.

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 2003 An Annotated Bibliography on Haitian Creole: a review of publications from colonial times to 2000 . 700 p. Educa Vision.  [[Research presented at the International Linguistic Conference held in Cayenne, French Guiana (from May 9 – 11. 2003, organized by the Laboratoire des Sciences Sociales IRD de Guyane, ”Writing of languages spoken in French Guiana”. Also presented at the ”17th Annual Haitian Studies Association Conference”, University of Massachusetts-Boston, Oct. 2005.]

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 2003. Quelques plantes créoles et leurs noms en latin. (Kèk plant Kreyòl ak non yo an laten).

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 2000. Leksik kreyòl : ekzanp devlopman kèk mo ak fraz a pati 1986. [Haitian Creole lexicon and phrases developed from 1986 (post dechoukay in Haiti)].

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 1999. Interview: Emmanuel W. Védrine with André Vilaire Chéry, related to his inventory of words / idioms documented during the political climate in Haiti, from February 1986 to 2000. Indiana University- Creole Institute at the Bloomington Campus to share his research idea with us. (Dec. 10). Dictionnaire de l’évolution du vocabulaire français en Haïti (dans le discours politique, économique et social du 7 fev. 1986 à nos jours).

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 1996. Gramè Kreyòl Védrine (Védrine's grammar of Haitian Creole).  354 p. VEDCREP: Boston, MA. [First monolingual grammar ever written in Haitian Creole. It covers the grammatical aspects of the language with a foreword and acknowledgment in English, including a bibliography of 63 sources].

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 1995. Petit lexique du créole haïtien. 87 p. Orèsjozèf Publications.

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. 1992. Dictionary of Haitian Creole Verbs With Phrases and Idioms. 246 p. Soup to Nuts Publishers. Massachusetts, USA.

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. “Dictionary of Haitian Proverbs”. (Unpub manuscript).

VEDRINE, Emmanuel W. “Diksyonè Otorite Lang Kreyòl Ayisyen”. (The DOLKA Project). [Diksyonè inileng / monoleng : Monolingual Haitian Creole Dictionary (Unpub manuscript)].

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. “English – Haitian Creole – English Dictionary of Medical Terminologies” (Unpub manuscript).

VÉDRINE, Emmanuel W. “Say it in Haitian Creole, English and French: a trilingual glossary of phrases and idioms”. [A trilingual Glossary for learners of Haitian Creole, English and French and a guide for translators: Glosè trileng pou aprenan kreyòl, anglè ak fransè, e yon gid tou pou tradiktè. Unpub manuscript].

31 desanm 2021
Joseph Marcel Georges, Anseyan

Sek. LangSE joseph_marcel.georges@ueh.edu.ht josemarcello@netcourrier.com

* * *

E. W. Védrine Creole Project, Inc. (1992)
Boston, Massachusetts. USA


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