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Posts tagged ‘Caribbean Island’

No. 90: Mwen ka palé Kréyol

Le Vauclin, Martinique

Le Vauclin, Martinique

Mwen ka palé Kréyol.

Je parle Créole.

I speak Creole.

Not that I need another language knocking around in my old brain, but here are some simple words and phrases in Créole I hope to learn by week’s end. I’ll give it the old college try.

bonjou: bonjour, good morning/hello

mésyé zé dam bonjou: Mesdames et messieurs, bonjour, ladies and gentleman hello/good day.

bonswa : bonsoir, good evening

mèsi: merci, thank you

mwen ka rimèsié’w anlo: je te remercie beaucoup, thank you very much

souplè: s’il vous plait, please

Mi plisi! Avec plaisir! With pleasure!

ni pwoblem: pas de problème, no problem


tanzantan: de temps en temps, from time to time

An pa tini pwen lajan. Je n’ai pas d’argent. I have no money.


Sa ou fé ? Comment ça va? How are you?

Sa ka maché, è wou? Ça va bien, et toi? Fine, and you?


Ka ki là? Qui est la? Who is there?

Ka sa yé? Qu’est-ce que c’est? What’s that?

Ki laj a ou? et Ki laj ou ka fè? : Quel âge avez-vous? Quel âge-a tu? How old are you?


Annou ay!  On y va! Let’s go!

Resté la, an ka vin!  Restez là, je viens! Stay there, I’m coming!


bagail la chô: il fait très chaud, it’s very hot!

et enfin….

ti-bo: un bisou, a kiss

Mwen aimé ou doudou: Je t’aime mon cher. I love you dear.


And another bonus…Kréyol verb conjugation. Hmm…looks a mite bit easier. Maybe we should move to Martinique and take up Kréyol instead.


French                                                        Kréyol

je chante                                               mwen ka chanté

tu chantes                                             ou ka chanté

il ou elle chante                                     i ka chanté

nous chantons                                      nou ka chantè

vous chantez                                        zot ka chanté

ils ou elles chantent                              yo ka chanté

No. 89: French People who want to be Tutoyer-ed

In addition to enjoying the luxury of hanging out with the slow speaking Martiniquais and the confidence boost they provide to my own speaking ability, I also love the fact that the people on this island want to be tutoyer-ed.

Yes. In case you don’t know, the French actually have a verb for calling someone by the familiar form of “you” (tu)tutoyer versus the formal form of “you” (vous)—vouvoyer. So you can actually ask someone if they would like to be “tu”-ed or “vous”-ed.


I always err on the side of caution and choose to “vous” everyone until I am told otherwise, or notice that they have begun “tu”-ing me. It’s my default position. The way I see it, it’s better to be formal than risk starting off on the wrong side of the rue with the French.

IMG_9212As English speakers, this phenomenon of “tu-ing” and “vous-ing” does not exist in our language, and sometimes I find it too elitist for my taste. I’m guessing my difficulty with the French way of sorting out who is a friend/family versus who is an acquaintance, is the same difficulty but in reverse for the French when they travel to Anglo countries. They must find it quite startling when we greet them for the first time as if we are chums and ask them gamely how they are, when, in fact, they really don’t want to share that information with a stranger.

But the Martiniquais are different. From the minute we met the family we are renting our house from here, it has been “tu”, “tu”,“tu”. When I asked our hosts about it, they simple said, “Mais bien sûr, nous sommes amis, comme de la famille!”

What a delightful change. In my American mindset it makes me feel at ease and makes me feel a greater sense of equality, and all and all just makes me feel good.


Mais bien sûr, nous sommes amis, comme de la famille! But of course, we are friends, like a family. 

rue: street

tu: you, informal

tutoyer: to use “tu” when speaking to someone

vous: you, formal and plural

vouvoyer: to use “vous” when speaking to someone


No. 88: French People Who Speak French Slowly

IMG_2804Oh, how I love when the French speak French slowly. Every time I leave Paris and travel around France my confidence gets a boost when I realize I actually know more French than the hard knock Parisians have led me to believe.

It is such a relief to be on the Island of Martinique, the French territory off the coast of Venezuela.  Obviously it’s a relief for many of the normal reasons: work stress, school stress, family dysfunction, etc. The whole tropical-island-paradise-thing certainly helps out with that. But the real relief is being removed from cranky French people, who definitely don’t count patience as a virtue, and wouldn’t dare crack a smile if their life depended on it.

It is a welcome respite to be in a part of France where French isn’t the chosen language, but the colonial language, and where the people are quite happy to have you stumble along in French, so pleased that you are trying.

The Martiniquais don’t seem to give a rat’s patootie if you make a mistake. Their patience is immense, their smiles are large and they seem to have all the time in the world to let you mangle their not so precious language.

Most importantly they speak S-L-O-W-L-Y. And slow is so very appreciated by us not so fluent speakers.



No. 87: Petit-déjeuner en Martinique

This was breakfast in Martinique this morning. Refreshing, authentic and just so thrilled Superman did not chop off his fingertips.IMG_9227



We are loving the Martiniquais and their beautiful island.



petit-déjeuner: breakfast