Haitian crisis expressions
In this recording, acclaimed author Edwidge Danticat shares what she describes as "crisis sounds" specific to Haitian culture and Haitian Kreyól. Danticat's novels were key readings in a course on public health and Haiti taught at Duke University in the fall of 2015. Danticat was interviewed by students via Skype during the semester and later contributed this original recording to the Sonic Dictionary to demonstrate some of the unique sounds and expressions associated with her novelistic renderings of Haiti. View the class' exhibit "Sonic Signatures of Trauma in Haiti" here.
Haiti, Crisis, Trauma, Non-verbal expression, Speech, Spoken word
“These are some sounds of trauma.
In crisis: Jesí! Jesí! [‘Jesus! Jesus!’]
Also in crisis: Amwen! Amwen! [‘Help! Help!’]*
Urging someone to look:
Gade! Gade! [‘Look! Look!’]
That one is more like pain.”
*Literally, “Amwen” translates as “To me!” The individual in distress sounds the alarm of the need for others to come to her or him, but the specific verb has been abbreviated out of the phrase. In French, the phrase “Au secours!” (“To help!”) similarly calls out to those who might bring help, eliding a verb such as “I’m calling” [for help].