We hear you loud and clear. What you may not know however is that not too long ago, most of the prolific "Kreyol" (Haitian Creole) writers on the forum were exactly in the same boat that you are in now. The trip from one river bank (writing Kreyol in a 'horribly Frenchy' sort of way) to the other river bank (writing 'Kreyol' or 'Haitian!' in the officially adopted spelling of our National language) is mercifully short.
What are the Official Languages of Haiti? French and Haitian Creole (Kreyol) - or - Haitian Creole and French, if you prefer. In official practice, it's French first, then Haitian (because we are far from being an independent-minded people, as our History would suggest.) Only one Haitian in five, six or seven, can speak French fluently and write it accordingly. But Haitians often prefer to ridicule themselves with badly spoken and written French than to admit that they really do not know well the language of their former colonial masters. Should they learn it? Of course! French is one of the two official languages of Haiti and will remain so for a long time, unless the influence of the U.S. educated diaspora becomes so great that English eventually overtake it. It pays to speak French in Haiti and outside of it. One needs French to navigate the upper echelons of Haitian society. The perfectly tooled Haitian, linguistically speaking, is one who speaks well four languages: Haitian (Kreyol), French, Spanish, and English. The learning of all languages should be encouraged, because the knowledge of any language opens doors at times that you least suspect it, even Haitian Creole! At this moment, there is increasingly a number of U.S. Americans who are gainfully employed, due to their (sometimes limited) knowledge of Haitian Creole. In Universities across the U.S., you will find American citizens teaching Haitian Creole to Haitian Nationals. I am not kidding you. By neglecting Haitian Creole as one of our KEY languages, we are simply giving our lunches away. French is one of our two official languages. By all means, we should keep in mind that it is important to speak it well and to to write it well, but we do have a leg up when it comes to Haitian Creole, because most of us think naturally in Kreyol first!!! If I decide to learn Russian, I am not going to reject my knowledge of English for the sake of learning Russian. If I decide to learn how to write correctly the orthography of my native language (or one my native languages), this does not in any way imply that I have to sacrifice what I already know of another. Once you master the intricacies of speaking and writing one language (any language), it's always easier to do so with another (again, any language)... because we are dealing with the same brain cells. I will only concede one thing, it's that it is decidedly easier to learn a new language when you are young. But amazingly, some old dogs are always learning new tricks.
What IS the National Language of Haiti? Only one! It's often referred to as 1) Creole; 2) Kreyol or Kreyòl; 3) Haitian Creole; 4) Haitian. This is a matter of debate, and in my view it's not all that important. I prefer to avoid the first and third options. I speak Haitian. I speak Kreyol. I write it as well. And so will any Haitian who truly cares.
Why is 'Kreyol' the only National Language of Haiti? The answer is very simple: That is the only language universally spoken by Haitians. Only 20% (more or less) Haitians have the advantage of speaking French on top of it. How many of those 20% can write French without making embarrassing mistakes? Only a minority of that. True, a minority of the minority of the minority can not only dazzle you and any French person with their sterling French, but they could easily represent Haiti as a Francophone country in any French Literary Circle (and perhaps even at the "Académie Française"). In fact, I have no doubt about that. But what does such prowess do for the millions of us who do not speak French at all or can only express ourselves in it badly, often very badly, in Haitian Web Forums? As far as I can tell, they only polarize our fractured society even further. I wish that were not the case, because I like to see Haitians succeed in all human endeavors, even literary ones. But those who succeed in being bright French speakers, why do they often become so disdainful of their true national heritage?
When did the current rules of writing Kreyol become official??? Hold on to your hat! The answer is January 1980. Twenty-eight (28) years ago!!!!!
Numerous books (Too Many To Count) have been written, based on the official writing standards. Unfortunately, most of them are out-of-print after a year or so. Haitians produce books the way they produce music albums, in very limited quantities. Economically, they cannot do better at this point. There is not enough demand. However, this does not stem our creativity. We keep writing new books all the time, selling at most a few hundreds (if that!) before we go back to the task of writing new ones, hoping to find a new generation of readers willing to buy the books the next time around.
What's the best place to find Haitian Creole books (of all genres) in the U.S. ? Libreri Mapou in Little Haiti, Miami. Check Jan Mapou's website at www.librerimapou.com
. The website does not entirely reflect the great diversity of books that can be found at the store itself. If you ever make it to Miami, make Libreri Mapou a MUST STOP.
What about other areas of high Haitian concentration like New York / New Jersey, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Montreal etc.? The readers of this post are welcome to let us know their favorite Haitian bookstores.
It goes without saying that any book written in Haitian should be more easily available in Haiti. At least, I would like to think so.
One book I highly recommend (if still available) : "Viv Bondye, aba Relijyon" by Jafrikayiti, who is a member of this board. The title loosely translates to: "YES to God, NO to Religion". Aside from the content which is challenging, whether or not you end up agreeing (or vehemently disagreeing) with the celebrated and distinguished author, it is a pleasurable way of getting acquainted with the standards of Kreyol writing. That being said, the members of this forum could probably recommend dozens more.
The Haitian Language is here to stay. That is truly no longer a matter of debate. School systems in the United States are adopting it as an alternative language. Even though Haitians are not ready to abandon French (and why should they?), Haitian is gaining in influence. They now teach it in almost all schools in Haiti. On paper, it looks much better than the badly written French we observe daily in Haitian Web space. Why is that? Simple! For the vast majority of us, French is only our forced heritage, our mental conditioning. We have not adapted to it as well as we should have, because French is undeniably a beautiful and most useful language. After 350 years of French influence, we still for the most part speak and write second-rate French, except for the most educated among us. Luckily for us though, we can hold our own in "Haitian" (or "Kreyol" or "Haitian Creole"). Unless we decide once more to let "Haiti Experts" eat our lunch, as we've always done.
Not if I can help it...
Where do we start?
May I suggest : http://haitiforever.com/windowsonhaiti/ ... asil.shtml
Best of luck,
P.S. Pwofesè Pistach and I stand ready to help you along the way.