Month: July 2015

The Art of Conversation – With the Hatian Zest

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Bible readers


As you read this story, keep these words in mind.
Bourk = Book
Deux = The
Firfty too = Fifty two
Fothy –too = Forty two
Fow = Four
Frenk = French
Hourze= House
Ma Soeur = My sister
Pasteur = Pastor
Reard = Read
Somme = Psalm
Too = Two
Woolcome = Welcome
So I went to visit one of the Haitian Church a few days ago. At first, I was convinced I was in the wrong church, because the greeters were too friendly. But when the praise leader finally said:
“Woolcome – Woolcome to deux hourze of the Lord!” I thought, ‘Yes! I’m at the right place!”
During the worship service, with all the drum and the guitar playing, I felt obligated to contribute my share in the party. So I danced till I shed a few pounds.
After an hour of dance, it was time for the reading of the word. A beautiful young lady first read the scripture in creole. She did an exceptional job. Following her, was an older lady who wore a bright yellow dress, and a large purple hat. After she was done reading the “Frenk,” I meant the “French” scripture. This was my prayer to the Lord: ‘Lord, please die on the cross all over again, so that woman may be forgiven for murdering the French language.”
As you know, the Lord’s compassion is great. Since He knows what’s best for us all. He decided to impair my hearing. It was not until I saw the lips of the congregants moving as if they were saying “Amen” I realized I could not hear well.
Of course The Lord healed me right away. I had to first apologize. During my prayer I told Him “Lord, I really didn’t know the cotton balls were actually going to get stuck so deep in my ears – Please Help!”
Next it was the Pastor’s turn to suffer. “We will reard from the bourk of Somme.” (Meaning: We will read from the book of Psalm). He was kind enough to translate everything he was saying in French, then in Creole as well. I think I will go back to his church, just because he was not only competent but handsome as well. At last we all stood up for the reading of the Word. Meanwhile, three older members were still struggling to find the “Psalm 42.” One finally spoke so loud, that everyone heard:
“No. The Pasteur said: “Somme fothy too. A three, and a too.”
The second one answered: “No. He said Somme “firfty too, a six and a too.
The guy who stood next to them said: “No. It’s a fow, plus a one, and a one.”
The first voice finally tapped my shoulder to ask me: “My soeur, which Somme the pastor said?”
So I answered “He said “Psalm 42; Four and a two, or 40 plus 2.”
The guy whispered back: “Fow and a too equal six. Oh, now I got it. It’s somme 46!”
The other voice responded “No. She said fothy, too times, so that somme eigh and zero.”
The pastor was so tired of the turmoil, he intervened in creole.
“No, I -said – Psalm – forty two. So, first, you will see Psalm 40, Psalm 41, then Psalm 42; which is number four, then a number two next to it. Psalm “4-2.”
The three old folks finally answered all together: “You hear? We are going to read Somme 40, Somme 41, and Somme 42. THEN we are going to read Somme 4, then Somme 2.” Is that right Pasteur? “
The Pastor smiled and answered:

“Why not. One can never have enough of God’s word! So let us all stand together to read PSALM FORTY TWO. Then you guys can read the other psalms silently!”
I went back the following Sunday. That’s another story.



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Old lady

I’m originally from Haïti, where we claim the official language there is French. Honestly back in the seventies, to my knowledge, only those who went to school were able to converse in French.

The Creole language is now considered to be our official language. Creole is a mixture of French, Spanish, English, and some Indian words may even be included. However, since most of the old countrymen never went to school, they normally speak what we call a “raw creole,” purely undiluted.” Those of us who are from the City, will probably get a brain aneurysm, before we can understand what they are trying to convey to us.
The following is a true story.
When I lived in Los Angeles, most of the older Haitian folks who were my Mother’s friend, were referred to as Auntie. I recalled going to see one of them. A friend of mine happened to be there when I arrived. So when my aunt asked me to sort out a pile of mail she had on the table, I did as she had requested. I opened all the envelopes, then placed them back on the table before her. However, among her mails, when I noticed a letter from the immigration, which I thought must have been of high urgency, I told her in Creole:
“Auntie, you have a letter from the immigration.” I also handed the letter to her. Instead of answering, I noticed she had given me what we call in our culture “the look” before she got up from the table, and walked toward her bedroom.
My male who was sitting there started to laugh. Since I had a slightest idea the cause for his humor, I asked him, why he was laughing. Besides, I really was not familiar with the old folk’s body language. Apparently, he was a pro.
He answered me, “Soon, you will answer me what’s so funny. Do you want a butt whooping? Your auntie can’t read.”
“Can’t read? How is that possible – she has a driver’s license, doesn’t she? “
“And your point is?” He answered back.
Just then, I noticed my auntie came back with a large belt, and place it on the table. (Please keep in mind I was already in my twenty’s, married and had my first child).
“Auntie, did you hear what I just told you? Or perhaps, you want me to read the letter for you – or do you prefer to read it yourself later on?
She gave me a pronounce look this time. Just then it down on me why she went to get the belt from her bedroom. I wanted to keep my mouth shut, but I was broiling out of curiousity. So I asked her:
“Auntie, if you can’t read – how did you manage to pass the driver’s license test.”
My friend got off the table, and went to stand by the door.
She answered “I failed every one of the exam, then I studied the correct answers.”
“But, how did you study, if you can’t read?”
Just then I realized running track was the best investment I could have made during my High school years. The old woman started running after me with the belt. It was so funny, she finally gave up trying.
Finally, she ordered me to come back on the table and read allll her mails. So, I pretty much spent the whole afternoon reading her mails. When I was finally done, I grabbed my purse, and made sure I kissed her goodbye, before I asked her:
“Auntie, are you among the Haïtians who went to school for a few years? Or you’re among those who never went to school?”
She answered me: “Nadege Allez to Herll!” Meaning: “Nadege go to Hell!” But the words she had used to answer me, they were a mixture of French and English. So before I ran off, I yelled:
“Oh Auntie! I didn’t know you could speak “Frenchglish!”