It’s no secret that Florida is home to many immigrants. They have come from a variety of backgrounds and many different countries. When asked where Florida’s immigrants come from, many will quickly identify Spanish-speaking countries such as Cuba and Mexico. And indeed, as of 2015, of the approximately 4 million immigrants to Florida, 22.8% originally hail from Cuba and 6.8% come from Mexico. They are the number 1 and number 3 countries of origin for Florida immigrants, respectively.
Interestingly, however many fail to realize that the second largest community of immigrants in Florida come from the island nation of Haiti. According to the same statistic source cited above, Haitians make up approximately 8.3% of all foreign-born Floridians. So let’s learn a bit about the language (languages?) of our Haitian neighbors.
“Do Haitians Speak French There?”
Sort of. The 2 national languages of Haiti are Haitian Creole and French. While the 2 languages share many similarities in terms of vocabulary and sound system, it is important to realize that they are 2 very distinct languages. Many people (even some Haitians themselves) view Haitian Creole (often simply referred to as “Creole” in areas where it is the most common creole language) as a non-standard form of French. However, as with any language spoken natively by a population, Creole has a rich grammar that is complex and unique.
It should also be noted, though, that practically all Haitians have some familiarity with French as it is largely the language of Government and for many years nearly all formal education was conducted in French. In fact, it’s only in the past couple decades that Haitians have begun getting accustomed to reading in Haitian Creole. The Creole writing system is very straightforward and easy to pick up for native speakers. But due to the fact that many were only formally taught to read and write in French, they are still more comfortable reading in French, or using the French writing system to write Creole.
“What Kind of Language Services Do I Need?”
If you are booking services for a Haitian Creole speaker, all of this may seem somewhat complicated. However, Access Interpreting is here to help you. If you need oral interpreting, we will provide one of our qualified Haitian Creole interpreters. If you need document translation, we provide that into and from both the Haitian Creole and French languages. We recommend translating into Creole, as French literacy may be limited depending on formal education. The best thing is to make it clear to the client that they have either option and to ask which they’d prefer. Otherwise, feel free to contact us and we can make a recommendation for your specific case.