Haiti’s Influence on Louisiana

Haitians are the dominant Creole culture of New Orleans. Currently there are 5,000 people of Haitian descent that live in the New Orleans area. 

In 1709 (dayiti: I believe the author means 1791 because that’s when the Revolution started) after the Haitian Revolution that ended French rule and gave Haiti its independence 90% of the Hatian refugees settled in New Orleans. The immigration of Haitians, both white and free people of color (gens de couleur libres) brought 2,731 whites, 3,102 free persons of African descent and 3,226 slaves to the city. This one event doubled the population of New Orleans in one year and had an important social and cultural impact on Creole Louisiana that still influences it to this day.

The Hatian Creole population settled in the French Quarter and brought a distinct culture and architectural tradition giving New Orleans a reputation as the nation’s Creole Capital. They brought with them what was to become the rhythm and soul of New Orleans. The Crescent City would not be what it is today without these contributions.

Haitians played a major role in the development of Creole cuisine, the perpetuation of voodoo practices and preserving the city’s French character. Among the most notable Haitians in New Orleans history were; the pirate Jean Lafitte born in Port-au-Prince around 1782. Marie Laveau, the undisputed Queen of Voodoo (dayiti: Her portrait is above), born in [Saint Domingue] in 1794.

Bat chyen an tann mèt li

Haitian proverb

Translation: If you beat a dog, its owner will come.

Meaning: You are free to act as you please, but be prepared to deal with the consequences of your actions.  

Cultural note: In Haiti, most people don’t view dogs as a part of the family as in the US. Dogs are free to roam the streets as they please. This proverb relies on the premise that even if you think a dog has no owner, if you beat it, you’ll face the consequences. 

"Dialect" Does not Equal "Inferior"

This isn’t the first time I’ve observed this but this morning over on my docu-series page two individuals took offense to my use of the word ‘dialect’ in describing Dominican Spanish.

They were adamant that it isn’t a dialect, and it was unlike 'creole’ or 'patois’ and I must be confused because every region has its own words, pronunciation and style of speaking.

Thing is.

“style of speaking/pronunciation/words” are EXACTLY what a dialect is. 

Put simply: A dialect is a version of a language that is special to a particular region or group." 

ie- Dominican Spanish, Panamanian Spanish, Puerto Rican Spanish (note: it’s not as if folks go around saying "yea I speak Panamanian Spanish, you don’t know nothing bout that!” (see, what I did there, I used AAVE which is, you guessed it, a dialect!)  no, it’s just Spanish but know that there are variants to this larger thing known as “Spanish”)

“Dialects of the same language are different from each other, but still understandable to speakers of another dialect of that language. For example, American English and British English are two dialects of English. They have some differences, such as in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, but they are still understandable to each other." 

The term dialect (from the ancient Greek word διάλεκτος diálektos, "discourse”, from διά diá, “through” + λέγω legō, “I speak”) is used in two distinct ways. One usage—the more common among linguists—refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language’s speakers.

The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors, such as social class.[2] A dialect that is associated with a particular social class can be termed a sociolect, a dialect that is associated with a particular ethnic group can be termed as ethnolect, and a regional dialect may be termed a regiolect or topolect. According to this definition, any variety of a language constitutes “a dialect”, including any standard varieties


Now that all is said. The REAL issue I believe folks have when they hear dialect is they hear “inferior, not good enough, or improper.”

 (Who taught you to hate yourself)


One of the indignant dialect-oppositioners used the word “well-spoken” in their diatribe and that’s a clue in exactly how they view the term. As aforementioned, I think folks broadly connect sociolect when they hear dialect. And that saddens me.

In the same way when people say “proper English or proper Spanish.” Look, I don’t know what that is. And I got this question from one of my students, upon her learning that I knew Spanish, her next question was if I knew “proper Spanish.” I looked at her perplexed and asked  "what is proper spanish?“ She said "uhmmm uhhh you know, like….” I had another student in the room and I said that I don’t know what “proper” is because everyone’s way and style of speaking is proper. It is an oppressive way to again, separate and lord over one another. Yes, there is a time and a place for different styles of speaking, code-switching and within different environments people will make judgement based on how you speak, be aware of that but  also know that whatever way you speak is valuable. The other student, exclaimed “yea, it’s just different ways of speaking!”

(just say no to respectability politics) 

And that’s what it is. Different ways of speaking. One is not inferior to the next but you have to ask these questions of “WHERE did we get these ideas that there is a "proper” and a “standard”? It is highly classist, racist and of course, white supremacist. I have thought about and discussed this topic forever and it always seems the languages and dialects of Afrodescendants (and other brown folks) are degraded and thought of as “less than” when in reality the simple fact that we CREATED these languages and dialects out of our MANY languages and other influences IN the most deplorable of circumstances is pretty fucking awesome and amazing to me. Our various creole and patois languages are BEAUTIFUl because it is from and of us. Not to mention many that we think of as just “broken [insert language], are actually "real” languages.  

I feel the quote below sums up many of my thoughts, but this is the big take-away: 

 "Wherever you are from and whatever form of language* you speak, please do not take offense at my use of the term “dialect” in referring to different varieties of a language*. They are all interesting and valuable, and I respect every single one.“


Do you?

Related Reading:

Diaspora Dash - "Nicaraguan Creole English is a real language…

Diaspora Dash - "Le Negre Marron” (The Black Maroon; in creole,…

Diaspora Dash - -The Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Language…

Diaspora Dash - Languages and Dialects in the Americas

Diaspora Dash - The Gullah Creole Language

Diaspora Dash - Haitian Kreyol: The Language of the Slaves



m bezwen konnen chante sa a. di-m si ou konnen l

//edit: never mind I figured it out: “Mon Ami” by Kim