Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Creole/Kreyol 101

There is something very humbling about being forced out of your comfort zone and into a new culture and language. I have such a new respect for immigrants to the USA. It takes a lot of guts to show up and try to navigate your way through life with little to no understanding of the language/culture.

I like to think my Creole has improved in the last year. Whether that is true or not ... Uh- we won't ask Troy or Paige. I am going to take some classes with the new missionaries to try to expand my vocabulary. Right now I do okay with getting the words in the right order but my vocab is far too limited. I will soon find out if my brain is too old to absorb new information. I have my suspicions.

Mainly, I can talk to Jeronne about all house and kid things and to the pregnant ladies about most of their common complaints. But put me into a traffic altercation - or buying something at the market - I am toast.

I have no idea why it is this way, but the little girls speak Creole far more often than English. The adorable language that Lydia, Phoebe and Annie all speak ... called "Crengliole".
They mix a sentence together with both languages - they mix it up different ways and keep it interesting. They always say "Merci" rather than thank you and "please" rather than souple.

  • "M vle cracker" (I want a cracker)
  • "Bo mwen this" (Give me this)
  • "Ou fe dezod stop it" (You're being naughty - stop it)
  • "Es kay ou gen pop Mama?" (Do you have pop?) - Minnesotans call Soda "pop" in case you don't know what pop is.
  • "I want diri ak pwa" (I want rice and beans)
  • "M' vle chita lap ou Mama" (I want to sit on your lap Mama)

"Vle sa" - is probably the most often used Creole combo of words - accompanied with pointing they say "vle sa/want that" about three hundred times a day. I would estimate that all three of them use 75% Creole and 25% English ... we're trying to get Annie switched over to more English in preparation for her family in Minnesota.

We have two stuffed monkey animals. One is Phoebe's and one is Lydie's. Lydie mixes up the word for monkey (makak) and the four letter swear word that rhymes with "it" (kaka) and sometimes says:

"M vle kaka mwen" (I want my #*%&) (She means I want my monkey.) We enjoy this mistake and yuck it up when she mixes it up ... Because we are dreadfully immature.

But, just the other day Lydie taught me something I did not know. She handed me her bowl when she was finished and said "Meh Mama" --- which just means "Here Mama". But I had not yet heard someone say that while handing something off ... now I realize the girls all say it to each other every time they pass a toy.

It's pretty bad when you learn your Creole from a two year old.

*Creole words are spelled in a variety of ways. "Meh" is spelled "Men" but pronounced the same way. Don't use this post as your spelling guide.