Indiana University Creole Institute

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History and Mission

The Creole Institute at Indiana University specializes in research and training in the area of applied linguistics with a focus on French-based creoles. It is recognized as a major center in the United States equipped to deal in depth with applied linguistic issues related to Haitian Creole and Haiti. It also specializes in Louisiana French, which coexists with Louisiana Creole.

In 1964, Indiana University began to offer formal instruction in Haitian Creole. With funding from the Department of Education (Title VI), the Institute developed the basic materials for learning that language. These materials, Basic Course in Haitian Creole (1970) and Ann Pale Kreyòl (1988) have been used by most Americans who wished to acquire a working competence in the language. Ann Pale Kreyòl and its associated audio program are used in the major university instructional programs in the language and at the Foreign Service Institute of the Department of State. The Creole Institute has also prepared the most authoritative bilingual dictionaries for Haitian Creole: the newly published English-Haitian Creole Bilingual Dictionary (2017), the Haitian Creole-English Bilingual Dictionary (2007), and the Learner’s Dictionary of Haitian Creole (English-Haitian Creole) (1996). In 2007-2010, with a major grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Institute conducted the first major sociolinguistic study on Haitian Creole with a focus on the variety spoken in Cape Haitian, in Northern Haiti.

Publications dealing with other French-based creoles are The Saint-Lucian Creole Basic Course (1968), commissioned by the U.S. Peace Corps, and the Dictionary of Louisiana Creole (Indiana University Press, 1998), funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). That agency has also funded research on Louisiana French conducted in collaboration with several universities in Louisiana. Products of that research are a CD-ROM, Discovering Cajun French Through the Spoken Word (2003), and the Dictionary of Louisiana French: As Spoken in Cajun, Creole, and American Indian Communities (University Press of Mississippi, 2009). Currently, with a grant from the NEH, the Institute is preparing a Differential, Historical, and Etymological Dictionary of Louisiana French in collaboration with Tulane University.

Concurrently, research has been carried out at the Institute in the field of creole linguistics, particularly French-based creoles and related varieties of overseas French. The Director, Albert Valdman, is the author or editor of two basic resources in this area published in France: Le créole: structure, statut et origine (1978) and Le français hors de France (1979), as well as French and Creole in Louisiana (1997). In 2003 the Institute organized an international conference on French in the United States that led to the collective volume Le français en Amérique du Nord (Laval University Press, 2005).

The Institute has also branched out in the area of educational linguistics and language planning. Under the auspices of the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Language Affairs (U.S. Department of Education), it organized four summer institutes for the training of bilingual teachers involved in teaching Haitian children in the three major diaspora centers: New York, Miami, and Boston (1981-84). With USAID funding, it organized in 1979 a conference in Haiti on the use of Creole in primary education (Créole et enseignement primaire en Haïti) prior to the launching of the bilingual educational reform program by the then Haitian Ministry of Education. It also assumed a major role in the preparation of the first Creole-French/French-Creole dictionary (Diksyonè Kreyòl-Fransè/Dictionnaire Français-Créole) meeting lexicographic standards to be published by Editions Haïtiennes (Hachette-Deschamps).

Among its various outreach activities were four major international conferences sponsored, respectively, by the Haut Comité pour la défense et l’expansion de la langue française, the Johnson Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the NSF, all of which led to collective volumes: Identité culturelle et francophonie dans les Amériques I, II (1976, 1977); Issues in International Bilingual Education (1982); Haiti: Today and Tomorrow (1984); Theoretical Issues in Creole Studies (1980); and Historicity and Variation in Creole Studies (1981).

Among the Haitian or Haitian-American students who have earned graduate degrees in French Linguistics, a program with which the Creole Institute is closely associated, are Yves Dejean, Flore Zéphir , Yves Joseph, Frenand Léger, Jacques Pierre, Nicolas André (member of the Akademi kreyòl), all of whom have been professionally active in the field of Haitian Studies.

Would you like to contact the Creole Institute?
Phone: (812) 855-4988

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