Why Haitian Creole?

   The question I've been asked most often about the Indigenous Tweets site is this: "Why would people choose to tweet in a language with so few speakers when they could have a much wider audience by using English, French, or Spanish?"   I have my own answers to this question, but what I'd like to do is hear directly from the people who are choosing to use their native language on Twitter every day.  Jean Came Poulard, who was interviewed here last week, contacted the top three tweeters in Haitian Creole about this question and got some fascinating answers, touching on issues from literacy to diaspora communities to using machine translation to bridge the language gap.   Without further ado, here are the top three tweeters:
  • Schmidt Marseille (@pikglas) is a 20 year old Haitian living in New Jersey, USA.  He is currently a student in criminal justice, and loves social media, sports and music.
  • Carel Pedre (@carelpedre) is a radio and TV host in Haiti, and could be heard broadcasting news following the 7.3 earthquake last January.
  • Ricardo Vintris (@twitjako) promotes Creole rap music, maintains the twitjako.com web site, and loves sharing ideas, opinions, anecdotes and jokes via Twitter.  
 JCP: Why are you tweeting in Haitian Creole?

@twitjako: I tweet in Creole for a lot reasons, let me mention two for you.  First, I think and I believe the Creole language is the best way to communicate to my people living in Haiti or abroad; second, I want to use Creole as education tool to teach people their civil rights, because one of the main handicaps in Haiti’s development is ignorance, and ignorance begins with misunderstanding and lack of communication.  Communication has to be a way to express yourself freely and be understood. To be understood requires a proper language; as a Haitian, I think the proper language is Creole.  We have a proverb "Kreyòl Pale Kreyòl Konprann" [Creole Speaking, Creole Understanding].

Sometimes I tweet in French and rarely in English. When I tweet in French it is just to address to some people that I get in my network, or in a quote. I have to tell you that French is not really a language of communication for Haiti, even if we have this language as one of two official languages. So, we speak French when we want to print some ideas or want to be respected or tell to people that you were in school because going to school in Haiti is still a privilege and not an obligation. English?? Rarely do I use this language to tweet, then I always ask myself why I have to tweet in English because we've got a creolophone country even if I use an international network like twitter. And unfortunately I don’t master the English language (lol).  The main goal of twitjako is to speak to the Haitian People in order to get a new mentality on how we are living via Questions and Opinions.  Regarding my goal, I think Creole is appropriate to get the wider audience I need.

@pikglas: I tweet in Haitian Creole mainly because it is my native language, and sometimes the best way to express yourself is by using your native language. I do tweet in English too and a few times in French, I always found a way to balance those three languages, I don't really care about having a wider audience, I just speak my mind and that is it.

@carelpedre: I tweet in Haitian Creole because I'm Haitian. Creole is my native language, I speak Creole everyday. My Language is my pride, it's a way to let everybody know that I'm 100% Haitian. French is my second language but I don't tweet in French because the majority of my Haitian followers live in the USA or Canada and the other ones will understand English anyway. I have a lot of Non-Haitian followers. When I tweet something in Creole I know some of them will use Google Translate to get the meaning.

 JCP: What is your vision for the language in the next 10 years, and how do you see yourself contributing to that vision?

@twitjako: My vision is to see all online documents in Creole, my keyboard, my browser, my twitter, my facebook, my mozilla… all in Haitian Creole as we have google.ht in Creole. I think we have made a good start, because we can listen and read Creole on the radio anytime, on the web, TV shows and so on. Imagine if we got 10 million Haitians using Creole to do everything, as Americans do with the English language???   I would like to encourage Haitian People to get involved in this new way to communicate around the world, especially in Creole…  I know it’s difficult for a country like Haiti to get a lot of people in the computer world because electricity, computers, Internet are lacking and expensive. One more thing, we have to be trained to manipulate the computer and Internet and the big handicap is that a large part of Haiti’s population cannot read and write efficiently. I think if we resolve these issues, we could hope to improve the presence of Haitian Creole in the computer world.

@pikglas:  I can see Haitian Creole as being more popular in the next 10 years. Now google has added it to its list of languages in its linguistic tools, you saw us (Haitians) using it on twitter and create a hashtag where a lot of non-creole speakers was asking about it, what it is, and how they can try to understand it. I think these are some of the good signs which will lead the language to be more recognizable.  [I will contribute by] using Haitian Creole more throughout the Internet world.  As you can see, I do it via twitter and other websites like facebook and tumblr, and I will continue to do it, and I will suggest people try to learn it, I've done so with a friend of mine, and I will continue to do it, mostly via the computer world.

@carelpedre: I hope that every Haitian will be proud to speak Creole, that Creole will be the business language. I hope that somehow the Haitian diaspora will use creole as the main language in the world as the Spanish never let the language down even if they are living in the USA, an English-speaking country.  [As for myself] I can promote the language. Let the world know how beautiful this language is. I'm up to anything to promote my culture, my country, my language.

JCP: Anything else you'd like to say?

@twitjako: My comment about the use of Haitian Creole in Haiti and abroad is simple… Any language could not exist without people… If the Haitian people speak and write in Creole, the use of Haitian Creole could be really efficient, [even though] it’s not the case at the moment, but we've gotten strong signals with google.ht, the Mozila project to translate its browser into Creole, the [spellchecker] kok.logipam.org, and surely the http://indigenoustweets.com .. BRAVO!!

@pikglas: I think the use of Haitian creole in Haiti and abroad is good. Me personally I would like to see people use it more. And when they are trying to get a non-Creole speaker to learn it, I would like us to stop teaching them profanity first, like we often do abroad, we can always start with the basics.

@carelpedre: All I can say is that Haitian Creole is neglected. In Haiti it's considered as the language of the mass, the poor and those who didn't go to school. Abroad when you speak Creole it's like you miss something. We Haitians need to let the world know that our language is like theirs. We have to speak Creole as often as a Cuban speaks Spanish and be proud of it.

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