User:Robbiemuffin/Kreyol/Chapter 1/Pronunciation

Wikibooks Kreyol

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Kreyòl has a more-or-less literal representation of sounds by their letters. This requires some retraining of your reading, to recognize the proper pronunciation does not change, by diachonic palatalization, vowel variation, or any other alteration of sound. The classic example of a diachronic, somewhat universal among indo-european languages, is with C and G. In english, C before a hard vowel (a,o,u) will tend to have a hard sound, but will sound soft, like an s, before a soft vowel (e,i): “car” sounds like /kaɹ/ not /saɹ/, “certain” sounds like /søɹtan/ not /køɹtan/. Almost all the Kreyòl sounds are similar to their french equivalents: if you are having trouble finding a sound sample for Kreyòl, review french pronunciation in conjunction with the Kreyòl text. The most common deviation from literal pronunciation has to do with the multi-grapheme letters, which instead combine into a single sound, and especially the nasals where the N character is simply not pronounced at all (except with oun /un/).


derrived from the wikipedia haitian creole page.

Consonant phonemes of Haitian Creole
Bilabial Labio-
Palatal Velar Uvular
Nasal m n ŋ*
Plosive p   b t   d k   ɡ
Affricate   *
Fricative f   v s   z ʃ   ʒ
Approximant l j w ʁ**
  1. /ŋ/ and /dʒ/ are not originally Haitian Creole phonemes, but appears in English loanwords (eg. bèl filing 'good feeling', djip 'jeep' ).
  2. The written /r/, here realized as /ʁ/, is often more of an american-english /ɹ/ sound (especially with haitian americans), and otherwise more of a /ɣ/ sound as is typical in some french dialects and most variants of portuguese, but is still represented in texts as more similar to the de facto french sound.

Vowel Phonemes of Haitian Creole
Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-Mid e o
Open-mid ɛ   ɛ̃ ɔ   ɔ̃
Open a   ã

Orthographically, open-mid vowels carry a grave accent to distinguish them from close-mid vowels (eg. <e> for /e/ and <è> for /ɛ/). <n> behind <a, e, o> indicates nasalization. However, if a vowel before <n> carries a grave accent, the vowel is oral (eg. <on> = /ɔ̃/, but <òn> = /ɔn/).

Lexigraphic samplesEdit


sound Kreyòl IPA gloss
m moun /mun/ "people/person"
n lin /lin/ "moon"
ŋ filing /fi'liŋ/ "feeling"
p piman /pi'mã/ "hot pepper"
b poban /po'bã/ "sugar banana"
t tonton /tõ'tõ/ "uncle"
d diri /di'ʁi/ "rice"
k lakay /la'kaj/ "house"
g ba'gay /ba'gaj/ "baggage"
tchòk /ɔk/ "sugar banana"
djip /dʒip/ "SUV/jeep"
f konnfleks /kõn'fleks/ "breakfast cereal"
v vwazen /vwa'zɛ̃/ "neighbor"
s tèmòs /tɛ'mɔs/ "thermos"
z etazini /e'ta'zi'ni/ "United states"
ʃ chenèt /ʃenɛt/ "gap between teeth"
ʒ je /ʒe/ "eye"
l kle /kle/ "key"
j yè /dɛ'jɛ/ "behind"
w pwa /pwa/ "bean"
ʁ frijidè /fʁi'ʒi'dɛ/ "refrigerator"


sound Kreyòl IPA gloss
a matant /ma'tãt/ "aunt"
ã matant /ma'tãt/ "aunt"
e kle /kle/ "key"
ɛ dè /dɛjɛ/ "behind"
ɛ̃ mwen /mwɛ̃/ "me"
o zwazo /zwa'zo/ "bird"
ɔ kòlgat /kɔl'gat/ "toothpaste"
ɔ̃ tonton /tõ'tõ/ "uncle"
i jilèt i'lɛt/ "razor"
u moun /mun/ "people/person"


Word stressEdit

Syllable clusters are like any romance language, they tend to be simple consonant-vowel pairs (eg, "fri·ji·dè"). A word starting with a vowel will usually have a bare vowel there (eg, "e·ta·zi·ni"), but sometimes it will have a vowel-consonant syllable instead (eg, "en·pe"). A word ending with a consonant will have a consonant-vowel-consonant syllable there (eg, "an·pil").

Word stress are generally like the french, with equal emphasis throughout the word. Some authors suggest english speakers attempt to add a little stress to the end of the word, to compensate for our natural inclination to stress to the first syllable of a word.

As in european portuguese, there is a slight shortenening of the length of a soft vowel at the end of a word (eg, almost fail to say the trailing e in "kot·e", for "place"). French also has a shortening/omission of certain final vowel sounds, in words like "elle" – but there, it is more or less completely dropped, whereas in Kreyòl, the final sound maintains longer like portuguese with words like "ele" or "donde".

Similar to french, final hard consonants are almost dropped: in "nepòt" the "t" is still spoken, but softly. The "t" in "depot" in english/french is completely dropped, in kreyòl, our final consonant is simply not aspirated afterward.

Phrasal stressEdit

Like french, each phrase of a sentence by default get's a raised pitch on the last word in the phrase. As in portuguese, there is vowel elision (skipping the last vowel in a word after a word which ends with the same vowel, joining the pronunciation of the two words). Optional phrasal stress is a little more complicated. Some phrasal stress can be applied as in english, raising the pitch of the stressed word. But haitians also use word doubling to emphasize a noun or verb. For ad-words (adjectives and adverbs modifying a verb or another adverb), they change the sentence structure in a fashion a little like how spanish changes the position of an adjective or pro-form for emphasis.