New York government to add service in Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Italian...and French (Haitian) Creole!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

That was a bit of a surprise seeing Haitian Creole in there along the five other languages in this article in the New York Times just a few hours ago.

On Tuesday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ordered the city’s more than 100 agencies to provide language assistance in six foreign languages: Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Italian and French Creole. The order requires, for the first time, that the agencies follow the same standard when providing translation and interpretation to New Yorkers who do not speak English.

Immigrant advocates and city officials say it is the most comprehensive order of its kind in the country. The mayor refused to be specific about how much the services will cost, saying only that it was a “relatively small” amount given the size of the city’s budget. He added: “This executive order will make our city more accessible, while helping us become the most inclusive municipal government in the nation.”

“The fundamental basis of government is its interaction with its citizens,” the mayor said before signing the executive order at City Hall on Tuesday. “If people don’t know what we do, don’t know what they should do, what the law requires them to do, don’t know how to get services, all the money that we’re spending providing those services, providing those laws, is meaningless.”

The order requires that agencies translate essential public documents, pamphlets and forms in the six languages. But its reach is broader, as it allows for the use of a telephone-based service that can link immigrants with interpreters who speak Urdu, Hindi, Arabic and dozens of others less-common languages.

Chung-Hwa Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella organization that works with immigrants and refugees in the state, called the order “a landmark step toward inclusion.” Councilwoman Rosie Mendez of Manhattan, who has pushed for more translation services for public housing dwellers, said it was a “bold and necessary action” to increasing immigrants’ access to city government.

The types of services each agency will provide will depend on how much each of them interacts with the public. The agencies have until Jan. 1 to submit a plan detailing how much translation and interpretation service they will need to suit their needs.

The article doesn't say exactly when the agencies will have to start providing services in these languages. I assume that means that once it starts we'll have access to all sorts of brochures and other examples of Haitian Creole? That sounds great. Some of us at Auxlang should just phone up and ask for brochures if the content isn't easily available online.

Here's a big page on Wikipedia if you want to learn Haitian Creole:

There is no conjugation in Haitian Creole. In the present non-progressive tense, one just uses the basic verb form for stative verbs:

Mwen pale kreyòl - "I speak Haitian Creole"

Note that when the basic form of action verbs is used without any verb markers, it is generally understood as referring to the past:

mwen manje - "I ate"
ou manje - "you ate"
li manje - "he/she ate"
nou manje - "we ate"
yo manje - "they ate"

(Note that manje means both "food" and "to eat" -- m ap manje bon manje means "I am eating good food").

For other tenses, special "tense marker" words are placed before the verb. The basic ones are:

te - simple past
tap (or t ap) - past progressive (a combination of te and ap, "was doing")
ap - present progressive (With ap and a, the pronouns nearly always take the short form (m ap, l ap, n ap, y ap, etc.))
a - future (some limitations on use)
pral - near or definite future (translates to "going to")
ta - conditional future (a combination of te and a, "will do")

Simple past or past perfect:

mwen te manje - "I ate" or "I had eaten"
ou te manje - "you ate" or "you had eaten"
li te manje - "he/she ate" or "he/she had eaten"
nou te manje - "we ate" or "we had eaten"
yo te manje - "they ate" or "they had eaten"

Past progressive:

men t ap manje - "I was eating"
ou t ap manje - "you were eating"
li t ap manje - "he/she was eating"
nou t ap manje - "we were eating"
yo t ap manje - "they were eating"

Present progressive:

m ap manje - "I am eating"
w ap manje - "you are eating"
l ap manje - "he/she is eating"
n ap manje - "we are eating"
y ap manje - "they are eating"

Note: For the present progressive ("I am eating now") it is customary, though not necessary, to add "right now":

M ap manje kounye a - "I am eating right now"

Near or definite future:

mwen pral manje - "I am going to eat"
ou pral manje - "you are going to eat"
li pral manje - "he/she is going to eat"
nou pral manje - "we are going to eat"
yo pral manje - "they are going to eat"


N a wè pita - "See you later" (lit. "We will see (each other) later)

Other examples:

Mwen te wè zanmi ou yè - "I saw your friend yesterday"
Nou te pale lontan - "We spoke for a long time"
Lè li te gen uit an... - "When he was eight years old..."
M a travay - "I will work"
M pral travay - "I'm going to work"
N a li l demen - "We'll read it tomorrow"
Nou pral li l demen - "We are going to read it tomorrow"
Mwen t ap mache e m wè yon chyen - "I was walking and I saw a dog"

Additional time-related markers:

fèk - recent past ("just")
sòt - similar to fèk

They are often used together:

Mwen fèk sòt antre kay la - "I just entered the house"

A verb mood marker is ta, corresponding to English "would" and equivalent to the French conditional tense:

Yo ta renmen jwe - "They would like to play"
Mwen ta vini si mwen te gen yon machin - "I would come if I had a car"
Li ta bliye w si ou pa t la - "He/she would forget you if you weren't here"

Negating the verb

The word pa comes before a verb (and all tense markers) to negate it:

Woz pa vle ale - "Rose doesn't want to go"
Woz pa t vle ale - "Rose didn't want to go"


Anonymous said...

I predict this will be both a good thing and also one more reason for bigoted Americans who've never been New York to hate it.

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