About the Haitian Creole Language
French-based creole heavily influenced by various West African languages and it is classified as part of the Romance group in the Indo-European language family. There are approximately 9.5 million Creole speakers in Haiti, with another 3.5 million dispersed in Canada, the United States (200,000 in New York), France, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, the Bahamas, and other Caribbean islands.
There are several main dialects of Haitian Creole, with regional variations. The standard dialect, and the one taught in the Pimsleur program, is that of the central district and the capital, Port-au-Prince. Other key dialects include the northern dialect, centered around Cap-Haitien; the southern dialect, centered in the Cayes area; and the plateau dialect.
Dialect borders, however, have been obscured by the migration of people from the countryside to the capital. Until the 20th century, Haitian Creole was only a spoken language and it did not confer prestige. Even today fluency in French still remains a marker of social class. Presently, 95% of Haitians speak Haitian Creole as their first language. It is estimated that 5% of Haitians speak standard French fluently, 5% speak both French and Haitian Creole fluently, and 90-95% speak only Haitian Creole. French is still the primary language in education, however, and it is used in both government and business.