Friday, March 18, 2011

Haitian Names 101

Names were (and still are to a certain extent) really difficult for me to get used to when I first came to Haiti. First there is the fact that French names are very different than English names. Then you have to take into account that all names, even ones I recognize on paper, are pronounced with a French accent. Names like Stephen and David are harder to recognize when they sound like Stef-on and Da-veed.

In the past 6 months I've noticed some interesting trends in Haitian names.

1. Absolute most common names in Haiti: for women Marie (sounds like my-ee)followed by any other name. For men Jean (sounds kinda like the end sound of garage) followed by any other name.

Ex: Marie Claire, Marie Ange, Marie Claude, Marie Rose
Ex: Jean Claude, Jean Robert, Jean Pierre, Jean Bertrand
2. E, M, P, and Y are very popular letters.
Male names:  Evens, Etienne, Erick, Exumene, Emmanuel, Michel, Marc, Mackenson, Pierre, Peterson, Peter, Paul, Patrick, Yves (sounds like Eve), Yvner

Female names: Esther, Edline, Emmanuela, Mirlande (sounds like Mirror-lahnd), Monique, Mimose, Patricia, Philomene, Yvonne, Yvette, Yvrose
3. Often there is a common base with various endings.
Rosena, Rosemene, Rosita, Rosina, Rosilien, Rosilia, Rosette, Rosemita, Rosemina, et.

Fred, Fredson, Fredo, Frednel, Frederick

Dieuseul, Dieuy, Dieumene, Dieumaitre, Dieujuste, Dieufort, Dieubon (this base means God)
4. Common female name endings:  -line (Ameline & Cloline), -lande (Mirlande & Nerlande), -ette (Rosette & Yvette)

5. Common male name endings: -son (Robenson & Davidson), -nel (Fritznel & Kesnel), -ner (Yvner & Fredner)

6. There seem to be some common names that are not originally French: Manouchka (Ma-noosh-ka), Shnider/Schneider, Natacha (Natasha), Nephtalie, Lovensky, Djoumy, Dieuseul

7. Names I think are tragic for little girls, but are very common here: Guerda/Guertrude, Bernadette, Bertha/Bertony, Fedna, Medjine

8. While not overly common, the use of the words "love" and "wood" in names still baffles me.
Ex: Ruth Love, Mylove, Michaelove, Woodson, Wood Kelly, Woodjerry

1 comment:

  1. I thought before that I saw a Russian/Slavic influence in some of the Haitian names and it appears that there was a foundations for that. Apparently there were a number of Poles among the troops sent by Napoleon to Haiti in the early days of independence. Hence names like Manouchka, Natacha, and Lovensky. There was also mention of Germans, which explains Shnider.