We will cover the Haitian creole dialogue portion of the car repair shop post. First, you would start by greeting either the person at the shop’s front desk or the employee would greet the customer or client. To do this, we say hello, which is alo in Haitian Creole. If you want to be more specific, you could say, good morning, if it’s before noon. In Haitian Creole, we say bonjou. To be specific, after 12 pm, we say good afternoon, which is bonswa in Creole.
So someone walks into the shop, and the employee wants to know what the customer needs. In English, we would ask, “how may I help you?”. In Creole, we say “kijan (mwen) m ka ede w?” You can also say kapab instead of ka. They both mean can. Ka is short for kapab or kab. M is short for mwen.
The customer can also ask the mechanic if it’s possible to look at their car that day. In this case, the person would ask, “can you look at my car today? or can you check my car today?” In Creole, it would translate to “èske w ka gade machin mwen an jodia?” Gade means to look. The person can also ask, “èske w ka tcheke machin mwen an jodia?” tcheke is check. Machin means car. If the mechanic can check the car that day, they could say, “yes, I can.” This translates to “wi, mwen kapab.” Since we are not saying exactly what we cannot do, we don’t shorten the word kapab to ka. Of course, it’s possible the mechanic will not have time, so the answer would be no. In this case, they would say, “no, I don’t have time, or I will not have time.” Here in Creole, we would say, “non, mwen pa gen tan or mwen pa (ap) p gen tan.” It sounds like pa p. The first one means the mechanic does not have time. The second one says they will not have time (future). Notice I added ‘ap‘ in parentheses. This is because the word is ‘ap‘ for happening right now or future. However, because ‘pa,” which means not, is in front of it, we just left the ‘p’ for short. Otherwise, it would read, mwen pa ap gen tan, so you would have to say ‘a’ at the end of pa and then a at the beginning of ap.
The shop’s employees are busy with other cars and will not have time. Here, the employee could say, “we are very busy.” In Creole, we would say “nou trè okipe.” It’s also possible the shop is not very busy, so in this case, they would say, “we are not busy,” which translates to “nou pa okipe.” We are not too busy, nou pa twò okipe.
Now, the shop employee wants to know what the customer needs. They could ask, “what do you need?” which is “kisa w bezwen?” in Creole. Maybe the employee wants more details to find out what the issue is. “What’s wrong with the car?” which means “kisa machin nan genyen?” The word nan here means the. Maybe the car has brake issues, so the customer needs new brakes. “I need new brakes.” In Creole, you could say it more than one way. “Mwen bezwen chanje fren,” which translates to “I need to change brakes.” Another way is to say, “mwen gen (genyen) pwoblèm fren,” which means I have brake problems. Notice in this sentence I added the word ‘genyen’ in parentheses? This is because the word ‘gen’ is short for genyen, which means to have‘ My brakes are finished. Fren m fini.
The muffler could be making a loud noise, so the customer would say, “the muffler is making a loud noise.” In Creole, it translates to, “moflè a ap fè yon gwo bri.” Here the word a means the. So it says ap fè (is doing) to show that it’s happening now.
If the car is smoking or heating up, we say the car is heating up. In Creole, it translates to “l (li) ap chofe or l ap plede chofe.” Here, the ‘l’ is short for li, which means he/she/it. Plede means it keeps happening; it continues to occur. (Plede also means to argue back and forth when one or more parties are trying to make a point. It wouldn’t be used if a group of people was cursing at each other). Ex: Let’s say one person accuses another person of eating their apple. The accused says no, they didn’t eat the apple. The accuser would answer, yes, you did. The accused says, no, I didn’t. Here we can use plede, especially for the accused because that person is trying to make a point of what they did or didn’t do. Now, let’s say the accuser has a video recording of the accused eating the apple; the accuser would say, “I know you ate it. I saw you on video, but you continue to plede.” The word is sometimes used when attorneys argue a case in the courtroom.
Maybe the car has a flat tire, and the driver needs help fixing it or changing it. The customer would say, “I have a flat (tire).” This would translate to “mwen gen yon pàn kawotchou (kawòtchou),” which pretty much means the car is not working and it’s because of the tire (s). The word ‘yon’ represents one of something: yon machin = a (one) car; yon tab = a (one) table. One by itself is youn. How many cars? One. konbyen machin? Youn. The word pàn can be used when something (mainly electronic or with a motor) is not working. You can use it for cars, tires, refrigerators, television… Another way to say ‘flat tire’ is to say kawotchou (kawòtchou) a plat. The word plat translates to flat. We added the word ‘a’ after ‘kawotchou’ to show that only one tire was flat or the tire.
Maybe someone was in a car accident, and they don’t know the extent of the damage. So the person would say, ‘mwen te fè aksidan’ which means ‘I had an accident or I was in an accident.” Or the person could say, ‘mwen te fè yon aksidan,’ which means the person was in an accident. Only one accident. Others could say, ‘mwen te fè aksidan machin,’ which is more specific. Here the person was in a car accident because the word ‘machin’ was added, which means car.
If the air conditioner is not working, the person would say, ‘klimatizè a pa mache,’ which means it’s not working. The word ‘pa’ means not. Mache has many meanings: Market mostly outside; walk, and when something is working properly. One can also say, ‘klimatizè a an pàn,’ which means it’s not working.
Hello = Alo
Good morning = Bonjou
Good afternoon = Bonswa
Can = Kapab or Ka/Kab
Help = Ede
Look = Gade
Check = Tcheke
Car = Machin
Today = Jodia
Busy = Okipe
The = a, la, an, lan, nan
We, Us, Our, Ours = Nou
Not; Don’t (when one takes a step) = Pa
Need = Bezwen (Want = Vle)
Brake (s) = Fren
Problems = Pwoblèm
Change = Chanje
Have = Genyen (Gen for short)
Muffler = Mòflè
Making (Doing) = Ap fè (fè is doing or do) =Something is happening or being done now.
Loud = Fò (hard or loud). However, for this post we say ‘gwo bri’ to show the noise’s level. It was not small, it was big. Loud in this case, not low.
Plat = Flat
Tire = Kawotchou (kawòtchou)
Accident = Aksidan
Air conditioner = Klimatizè
Mache = Something is working (The word mache also means a market like a flea market and to walk)
Too = Twò
Maybe the shop’s employee wants to know the customer’s name. Here the person would ask, ‘kijan w rele?’ which means ‘what is your name?’ although the actual translation is ‘what are you called?’ because the word rele means to call, yell, or scream. The person can also ask, ‘ki non w?’ which means what is your name? To answer, the customer would say, ‘mwen rele’ and then tell their name. Mwen rele Jean – my name is Jean. What is your phone number, Jean? Ki nimewo telefòn w, Jean? And then the person would say their phone number. See the numbers posts here.
Usually, after someone says ‘thank you,’ we say you’re welcome or no problem. In Creole, we either say, ‘de ryen/ Pa dekwa/ or pa gen pwoblèm.’
Maybe the shop’s employee wants to know if the customer has been there before. The employee would ask, ‘have you been here before?’ which translates to ‘èske w konn vin (vini) la a deja?’ Anytime you see the word ‘èske,’ assume it’s a question. Vin is short for vini which means come, and deja means already. The word konn implies something that you’re used to doing. Remember that the word konn is also short for konnen, which means know.
Now, the employee wants to know the make and model of the car; in Creole, we use one word for both make and model, mak. “Ki mak machin nan?” The word nan here means the. What’s the make and model of the car? Maybe the employee wants to know the year of the vehicle. They would ask, ‘ki ane machin nan?’ which means what year is the car? The employee needs to know if this individual has car insurance to determine how the shop will be paid. They could ask, ‘èske w gen asirans?’ which translates to, do you have insurance? Notice I used the word èske in front of the question. However, you don’t have to use the word èske. One can ask, ‘w gen asirans?’ and it’s just as good, but the person’s tone must end the sentence as a question; otherwise, the other party will be confused and won’t know if the employee is asking a question or making a statement.
Maybe, someone wants to see your driver’s license, the person would ask, ‘èske w gen lisans w?’ which translates to, ‘do you have your (driver’s) license?’ The word lisans by itself means license, but here once you say it, people assume it’s a driver’s license.
Now, the employee may need the car keys to either get additional information from the car or drive the vehicle to the back of the shop. The person would ask, ‘ban m kle machin nan silvouplè,’ which means, please give me the car keys. Now the customer wants to know how much the repair will cost. He/she can ask, ‘konbyen l ap koute.’ How much will it cost? The word konbyen means how much or how many; the ‘l’ is short for li. Koute is cost. The employee tells the customer how much it will cost—L ap koute $200. It will cost $200. Watch the numbers video here. Does the customer also want to know how long it will take? ‘Konbyen tan l ap pran?’ which translates to how much time will it take? or how long will it take? Maybe it will only take one hour, so the employee would say, ‘l ap pran inèdtan or dezèdtan.’ Perhaps it will take a whole day; in this case, the employee could say, ‘yon jou,’ which means one day. One month is yon mwa. One year is yon ane or en an. Most Haitians say, ‘en an,’ which is the french pronunciation (un an).
Will the customer drop the car off, or will the person wait for it. The employee could say, ‘èske w ap kite machin nan?’ Are you leaving the car? The word kite means to leave. Or are you going to wait for the car? Èske w ap tann machin nan? The word tann means to wait. The shop will have it ready by a certain time. Maybe the employee thinks the car will be ready by, let’s say, noon. The employee could say, N (nou) ap fini avan midi. We will finish before noon.
Name = Non (non also means No)
Call = Rele (the word rele also translates to scream or yell)
Number = Nimewo
I, me, my, mine = (Mwen or M for short)
Thank You (Thanks) = Mèsi
You’re welcome = De ryen; Pa dekwa
No problem = Pa gen pwoblèm
Here = La a
Vini or Vin = Come
Deja = Already
Èske = Did? Do? Does? Is? Are? Am? (this is used to ask a question)
Used to (used to doing something) = Konn
Make and Model = Mak
One = Youn / En
Year = Ane
The = A, La, An, Lan, Nan
Insurance = Asirans
Before = Avan
Key = Kle
This = Sa; Sa a
Give = Bay, Ban ba (the word ban also means bench) (The word ba also means kiss). Ex: I gave the man $2. Mwen te bay mesye a de dola. Give me this dress. Ban m rad sa a. Give him the bone. Ba l zo sa a.
Please = Silvouplè (souple)
He/she/it = Li or L for short
How much (or how many) = Konbyen
Cost = Koute
Take = Pran
Time = Tan / Lè (tan is also used to describe the weather). Like if it looks like it’s going to rain, we would say, tan an mare. Mare means something is tied.
One hour = Inèdtan
Day = Jou
Month = Mwa
Year = Ane
To leave = Kite (ale)
To wait = Tann
Noon = Midi
We, us, our, ours = Nou or N for short
So now the car is ready, and the customer is prepared to take it home. The shop’s employee may want to give an update on what was done. If they were able to fix everything, they could say, ‘we fixed everything,’ which translates to, ‘nou te ranje tout bagay. Now that the employee wants to get paid, they want to know how the customer will pay. Kijan w ap peye? Which translates to how will you pay? The customer is satisfied with the service and wants to thank the employee. The customer could say, ‘thank you, which is Mèsi in Creole. The person could also say, thank you very much, which is mèsi anpil. In return, you could say, “de ryen or pa dekwa.” Both mean you’re welcome. De ryen is probably more popular in the city. I hear pa dekwa used more by folks in the countryside.
If you want to be extra lovely and wish the person a nice day, you could say, “pase yon bon jounen,” which means to have a nice day. Jounen is used for the daytime. The shop’s owner may want to invite the customer to return. In this case, they could say, Tounen ankò, which means return or come back. The employee can also say Vin (vini) wè nou ankò, come see us again. If the shop’s employees want the customer to tell their friends, they would say, “di zanmi w (yo),” which means tell your friends.
Fix = Ranje (Fixed = Te ranje). The word ‘te’ makes it past tense.
Everything/All = Tout
Things = Bagay
Pay = Peye
How = Kijan
You, your, yours = Ou or w
Thank you or Thanks = Mèsi
Very much = Anpil (Anpil is also used for a lot of something)
You’re welcome = De ryen / Pa dekwa
Spend – Pase (to spend money is depanse) – The word pase also means to iron
Jounen = Day – Day time (Jou is also day – the whole day)
Return / Come back = Tounen / Retounen
Friend (s) = Zanmi
Again = Ankò
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