Haitian Creole

Haitian Creole is a French-based creole spoken by about 9.5 million people in Haiti. It is the creole language with the largest number of speakers worldwide. While all Haitians speak Creole, only a minority of the population (about 7%) are bilingual and also speak French. It is difficult to estimate the precise number of speakers among Haitians living in diaspora communities, i.e. the about 2 million people that emigrated mainly to the USA, Canada (Québec), Dominican Republic and French Overseas territories (Lesser Antilles, Guiana).

The Haitian Constitution of 1987 granted Haitian Creole the status of an official language next to French (official language since 1918). The language of the schools had long been exclusively in French, but opened up to Creole from 1979 onwards. In that year an official phonologically based orthography was implemented for Haitian Creole. In the following the Creole was used in an increasing number of domains and in the mass media (especially radio and internet).

The Creole of rural monolinguals that is used all over Haiti was documented in a linguistic atlas (Fattier 1998). The global description of each variety allows us to distinguish the forms that are specific to each variety from those that are common to all dialects. It is the forms that are “common to all dialects” that represent the default lect described in APiCS. Additionally we have occasionally noted some specific forms while clearly marking the geographic variety they represent.

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No. Feature Value % Details Source
No. Feature Value % Details Source

Consonants

bilabial
labiodental
dental
dental/alveolar
dental/alveolar
affricate
palato-alveolar
retroflex
palatal
velar
labial-velar
uvular
glottal
plosive/affricatepbtdt͡sd͡zt͡ʃd͡ʒʈɖcɟkgk͡pg͡bqʔ
aspirated plosive/affricatet͡sʰt͡ʃʰ
glottalized stop/affricateɓt͡sʼt͡ʃʼ
nasalmnɳɲŋ
trill, tap or flaprɾ
fricativeɸβfvθðszʃʒxɣχh
lateral/approximantɬlɭjw

Vowels

frontnear-frontcentralnear-backback
high
higher-mid
mid
lower-mid
low

Special segments

ɥvoiced labiopalatal glide - Exists (as a major allophone)
ȷ̃nasalized voiced palatal glide - Exists only as a minor allophone

Legend

 Exists (as a major allophone)
 Exists only as a minor allophone
 Exists only in loanwords
 Does not exist
No. Feature Value % Details Source