Structure dataset 49: Haitian Creole

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 49.

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


Pulmonic Consonants
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
↓ Manner Bilabial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Alveolo-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal
/ Epiglottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop p b t d k g
Sibilant affricate t͡s t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
Non-sibilant affricate
Sibilant fricative s z ʃ ʒ
Non-sibilant fricative f v ɣ h
Approximant l j ȷ̃
Flap or tap
Lateral affricate
Lateral fricative
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back Close Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open ihigh front unrounded vowel yhigh front rounded vowel nasalized high front unrounded vowel uhigh back rounded vowel nasalized high back rounded vowel ehigher mid front unrounded vowel nasalized higher mid front unrounded vowel ohigher mid back rounded vowel nasalized higher mid back rounded vowel ɛlower mid front unrounded vowel ɔlower mid back rounded vowel ɔ̃nasalized lower mid back rounded vowel alow central unrounded vowel nasalized low central unrounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments
 w  voiced labial-velar glide
 ɥ  voiced labiopalatal glide


       Exists (as a major allophone)
       Exists only as a minor allophone
       Exists only in loanwords
No. Feature Value Details Source