“Has no name in Creole”

From Sim Aberson, a Miami Herald story from the 12th, “Martelly asks Haitians to ‘Give the country a chance'” by Jacqueline Charles:

Port-au-Prince. President Michel Martelly used his nation’s most solemn anniversary to issue an appeal for calm and unity, asking Haitians to remember the victims of the country’s devastating earthquake five years ago Monday by putting Haiti first.

… Martelly reminded Haitians that it wasn’t just the earthquake, which has no name in Creole and has become known as goudougoudou, that killed the victims, but the lack of development in the country that led to the poorly constructed homes, businesses and government buildings that came crashing down during the 35 seconds.

What could Martelly have meant by saying that that the earthquake has no name in Creole (but has become known as goudougoudou)? Is this the “no word for X in L” meme (no word for earthquake in Haitian Creole)? Or a claim that there is no proper name for this particular earthquake? Either way, it looks to me like Martelly has it wrong.

Words for earthquake. Corresponding to standard French tremblement de terre we seem to have the Haitian spelling tranbleman de terre and then actual Haitian Creole terms tranbleman detè and the shorter tranbleman tè or its spelling variant tranblemanntè.

Names for the 2010 earthquake. From a 7/12/10 piece on the Ms. magazine blog, “Goudougoudou: Earthquake Memories from Haiti” by Gina Athena Ulysse:

The earthquake that decimated various parts of Haiti six months ago actually has an affectionate nickname: Goudougoudou. Everyone uses the term.

… An onomatopoeia, Goudougoudou mimicks the sound that the buildings made when the earth shook everything on its surface and leveled those that were not earthquake-ready.

Then in 2011 came a documentary about the earthquake: Goudougoudou, made by Fabrizio Scapin and Pieter Van Eecke.

So it looks to me like the 2010 disaster does have a name. In Haitian Creole.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: