Counting in Haitian Creole
Haitian Creole language (kreyòl ayisyen, Creole) is a French-lexified creole language, with influences from the African languages fon, ewe, kikongo, yoruba and igbo. Spoken in Haiti – where it has the status of co-official language alongside with French – by about 8 million speakers, it counts another one million speakers throughout Bahamas, Cuba, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic and other countries of the Caribbean.
Haitian Creole numbers list
- 1 – youn
- 2 – de
- 3 – twa
- 4 – kat
- 5 – senk
- 6 – sis
- 7 – sèt
- 8 – uit
- 9 – nèf
- 10 – dis
- 11 – onz
- 12 – douz
- 13 – trèz
- 14 – katòz
- 15 – kenz
- 16 – sèz
- 17 – disèt
- 18 – dizuit
- 19 – diznèf
- 20 – ven
- 30 – trant
- 40 – karant
- 50 – senkant
- 60 – swasann
- 70 – swasanndis
- 80 – katreven
- 90 – katrevendis
- 100 – san
- 1,000 – mil
- one million – yon milyon
- one billion – yon milya
Numbering in Haitian Creole
The vocabulary of Haitian is mainly based on French, which can be particularly striking in numbers names. Their pronunciation is transposed in a specific spelling system, while keeping the French numbering and its features, like for instance the use of vigesimal system between sixty (swasann) and ninety-nine (katrevendiznèf). The etymological meaning can thus be found by reverse transcribing from Creole to French. However, phonetic changes, and therefore alterations of the spelling, still remain, as in the case of the number one, which is quite difficult to recognize at a glance when used in a compound number: youn , venteyen , san en , mil youn [1,001], yon milyon [one million], an milya [one billion]. If the underlying numbering system is identical between the two languages, we do speak of translation here – and not only transcription – once the phonetical rules are made explicit.
Haitian Creole numbering rules
Now that you’ve had a gist of the most useful numbers, let’s move to the writing rules for the tens, the compound numbers, and why not the hundreds, the thousands and beyond (if possible).
- Digits and numbers from zero to sixteen are specific words, namely zero , youn , de , twa , kat , senk , sis , sèt , uit , nèf , dis , onz , douz , trèz , katòz , kenz , and sèz . Seventeen to nineteen are regular numbers, i.e. named after the ten and the digit: disèt [10+7], dizuit [10+8], diznèf [10+9].
- The tens are specific words too from ten to sixty, namely dis , ven , trant , karant , senkant , and swasann .
- From sixty to ninety-nine, the base 20 is used (this vigesimal system seems to be an inheritance from Celtic languages imported via the French language), hence swasanndis [60+10], swasanndiznèf [60+10+9], katreven [4*20], katrevendis [4*20+10].
- Tens and units are put together (e.g.: karannsis ), unless the unit is a one. In that case, the (phonetic) conjunction ey (and) is inserted between tens and units, figuring an addition (e.g.: karanteyen ). The compound numbers based on twenty cause the addition of an -n before the unit for twenty, and the replacement of the final -t with an -n from thirty to sixty, except when the unit is one, eight or nine in order to make the syllable longer (e.g.: vennde , tranntwa , karannsenk ).
- Hundreds are formed by setting the unit before the word for hundred (san) separated with a space, with the exception of one hundred itself: san , de san , twa san , kat san , sen san , si san , sèt san , ui san , and nèf san .
- Compound hundreds are separated from the following ten or unit by a space (e.g.: san en , twa san en , si san karant ).
- One million is yon milyon and one billion, yon milya.
Write a number in full in Haitian Creole
Let’s move now to the practice of the numbering rules in Haitian Creole. Will you guess how to write a number in full? Enter a number and try to write it down in your head, or maybe on a piece of paper, before displaying the result.
The Haitian Creole language: history, structure, use, and education
by Arthur K. Spears, Carole M. Berotte Joseph, editors Lexington Books (2010)
Oxford Picture Dictionary English-Haitian Creole: Bilingual Dictionary for Haitian Creole speaking teenage and adult students of English
by Jayme Adelson-Goldstein, Norma Shapiro, editors Oxford University Press (2008)
English Haitian Creole Word to word (Billingual Dictionaries)
by Fequiere Vilsaint, Jean Evens Berret, editors Educa Vision Inc. (2006)
El espanol y el criollo haitiano
by Luis A. Ortiz Lopez, editors Iberoamericana/Vervuert (2010)
- Ann pale kreyol: An Introductory Course in Haitian Creole, by Albert Valdman (in .pdf)
French-based creoles and pidgins
Other supported languages
As the other currently supported languages are too numerous to list extensively here, please select a language from the full list of supported languages.