Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Update on the Creole

When I arrived in Haiti a little over two months ago, I knew approximately 10 words in Creole. Basically, I could greet people. After that I would just stand and stare at them.

Now, only two months later, I can have basic conversations with people and they understand me! Today I read Green Eggs and Ham, in English, to the Laboule kids after school. I was able to translate most of it into Creole for them, and what I didn't know in Creole we could generally see in the pictures. They were really excited about hearing an English book.

During our class Micka, my friend who leads worship at church, came in and asked me to investigate the location of a ball. Apparently at some point yesterday Dayley had a ball that belongs to someone else. The someone else went to Micka for help. She in turn went to Dayley to find out what happened to the ball. However, he won't tell her where it is. Since she's certain he knows where it is and he just won't tell her, she asked me to see if I could get him to tell me where the ball is. She has a lot of faith in my Creole skills! Under her orders, I had the following conversation with Dayley, my little boyfriend, on our way home from school.

Me: Micka monde ou, "eske ou konnen kote bol la?" Micka asks you, "do you know where is the ball?"
Dayley: Wi. Yes.
Me: Ou konnen ki kote bol? You know where is the ball?
Dayley doesn't answer.
Me: Dayley, ou gen bol? Dayley you have ball?
Dayley: Non! Mwen pa gen blah blah blah. No! I don't have blah blah blah in Creole.
Me: Ki kote bol la? Where is the ball?
Dayley doesn't answer.
Me: Bol a kay ou? Ball at your house?
Dayley: Non! No!
Me: Ki kote bol la? Where is the ball?
Dayley: Nan Gramothe. In Gramothe.
Me: Ki kote nan Gramothe? Where in Gramothe?
Dayley: He gave me the location, but I don't remember what he said.
Me: Ou pral bay bol la a Micka demen? You will give Micka the ball tomorrow?
Dayley: mumble, mumble, mumble. 

While it wasn't exactly a profound conversation, it's definitely an accomplishment for me. I am thankful that I am beginning to understand people when they speak in Creole and that they understand me. The Laboule kids seem to be the best at speaking slowly for me... well, most of the time. Sometimes they get excited and just prattle on, but Hyphania and Nerlande are both good about telling me one word at a time so I can understand.

Now if I can get the house helpers at Johane's and Willem and Beth's to speak slowly when they want to tell me something, I will have it made!

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