Haitian Creole

Christopher Columbus claimed Haiti when he landed there in 1492. Arawak Indians
were the original inhabitants of this island when Columbus arrived. Later, the
island became a colony of England. Haiti remained virtually unsettled until the
mid-17th century, when French colonists, importing African slaves, developed
sugar plantations in the north. Under French rule from 1697, Haiti (then called
Saint-Domingue) became one of the world’s richest sugar and coffee producers.


Soon, Haiti became a land of wealth with the vast use of slavery as their method
of production. The rising demand for sugar, coffee, cotton, and tobacco created
a greater demand for slaves by other slave trading countries. Spain, France, the
Dutch, and English were in competition for the cheap labor needed to work their
colonial plantation system producing those lucrative goods. The slave trade was
so profitable that, by 1672, the Royal African Company chartered by Charles II
of England superseded the other traders and became the richest shipper of human
slaves to the mainland of the Americas. The slaves were so valuable to the open
market – they were eventually called “Black Gold.” Plantation owners
began to be represented in the colony either by their agents or plantation
managers, who kept them, informed of production levels, profits, expenses, and
the general operations of the plantation. The arrogance and conceit of these
agents, or procurers, was that they were surrounded by a multitude of domestic
slaves to satisfy every want or need of their own. The greater number of
domestic slaves one may have entails a great amount of prestige for these people
in their time of the early 1700’s and no though was given to the immoral ways
and acts taken by their race because they though it not an issue. Plantation
owners and those of the like continued to be heavily involved in social aspects
of culture and the French way of life. Commuting from their authoritatively
constructed world of pleasure in France with wealth and prestige combined with
the occasional visits to the plantation for business. The life of a plantation
owner and those that surround him is of luxury and negative profusion. The
Haitians are almost wholly black, with a culture that is a unique mixture of
African and French influences. Haiti was a French colony until 1791 when, fired
by the example of the French Revolution, the black slaves revolted, massacred
the French landowners and proclaimed the world’s first black republic. As noted,
this is the first revolution of slaves against their owners and their success
did not go unnoticed. The treatment of slaves around the globe is quite unjust.

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Because of the colonization of Haiti by France, the importation of African
slaves, and the original inhabitants, the Arawak Indians, three languages were
spoken on the island. This sparked a need for a common language between the
inhabitants of the island. In fact, a large factor in the success of the Haitian
Revolution (1804) was the creation of Haitian Creole through African dialects
and French. The fact that the majority of the residents spoke their language
made their domination even more prevalent. The language was created through the
slavery and the need for communication. The people of Haiti were also aware that
Creole was spreading to Jamaica as well and their match had been met.


‘Invisible’ and anxious to be ‘seen’ by their masters, the privileged few of the
black culture and the mass of freed blacks conceived of visibility through the
eyes of their masters’ already uncertain vision of life. The slaves of Haiti
rose up against their French and mulatto masters in August of 1791. This marked
the beginning of the end of one of the greatest wealth-producing slave colonies
the world had ever known. The early leaders forming the core of this movement
were Boukman Dutty, Jeannot Bullet, Jean-Francois, and George Biassou. Later,
slaves armies were commanded by General Toussaint who was eventually betrayed by
his officers Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Henri Christophe who opposed his
policies. The revolt consisted of long days and nights and the energy to
continue to fight and defend their cause. It ended in 1804 and the island of
Haiti became a free land without slavery. Haitian Creole preserves much of
French phonological, morphological, syntactical, and lexical characteristics,
but a merger of both French structural features and West African features
characterizes the language. The inflectional system of French is greatly
reduced. As with the pidgin languages, which result from the need to communicate
with the overseers and those who did not share the same language, this was a
development in linguistics, which is still studied today. The expansion and
strength of the languages are a part of our history and are present in other
lands of slavery and persecution. Although pidgin is used for trade only and for
no social communication, its use resulted in a new form of communication, or
language, for the new people in the New World. The bioprogram hypothesis (Gooden
handout) “claims that Pidgin/Creole is the “invention” of
children growing in a multiracial community. These children find the
“language” being spoken inadequate and without enough structure to
function as a natural language.” This is true because the children and
women slaves needed to communicate with others slaves from different African
dialects and they needed to communicate with the overseers as well. Today,
Haitian Creole is spoken by 95% of the people who live there. It is also has the
largest number of speakers of the Caribbean Creoles. Speakers include 700,000 in
Haiti; 159,00 in the Dominican Republic; and 200,000 in New York City. French is
an official language along with Haitian Creole, yet many people in Haiti do not
speak French. It became the official language in 1804 at the end of the
revolution. The Haitian flag was a result of removing the white band from the
French flag and turning it on its side. The decision for the flag came from
those who were victorious in the revolution and its leaders of freedom. It is
also meaningful to know that many of the migrants from Haiti are driven not only
by political issues but also by the immense amount of AIDS and other third world
country issues like potable water, deforestation and soil erosion. Although,
Haiti is still plentiful with trees and vegetation, a large amount of their
farmland is being destroyed and food has become a rare commodity to those who
are underprivileged. They result in fleeing the country and in the 1980’s, it
was reported than more than 500,000 Haitians had migrated to the United States,
legally and illegally, to New York, Miami, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia. The
information on Haitian Creole is quite scarce and the resources of worthwhile
information regarding the creation and purpose Creole has served in Haiti, and
other places, is not available. Many resources regarding the Haitian Revolution
are present and the requirement focuses more on the impact and development of
the language. The ability to make communication work in a confused and
inappropriate era of turmoil in the eyes of the slaves is a profound result of
God and life. The development of another language out of others is mind-power,
strength, inventiveness and tenacity. The people of Haiti continue to be
mistreated and neglected by many countries of the United Nations. The United
States can apply only so much support to one country since we are looking after
many countries as the lead nation in the world as support. The assistance that
is needed by Haiti is of immense detail and the feats of success are few and far
between for many of the local people in Haiti. Problems exist here because of
the age-old tradition of neglect and desecration of the people of Haiti and
their ancestors who hands created the land of wealth that benefited those before
them.


Bibliography
Scott III, Julius Sherrard “The Common Wind” UMI Publishing 1986
Dayan, Joan “Haiti, History, and the Gods” University of California
Press 1995 Fick, Carolyn E. “The Making Of Haiti: The Saint Domingue
Revolution from Below” The University of Tennessee Press 1990 http://babel.uoregon.edu/romance/rl407/creole/haitian.html
Title: Haitian Creole Yahoo search http://www.eli.wayne.edu/students/Newsletter96F1/creole.html
Title: The Origin of Haitian Creole Yahoo search