Creole Languages and Caribbean Identities

Chalkboard at a school in Haiti with lessons written on it

At this school in the outskirts of Port au Prince, Haiti, chemistry lessons are taught in French rather than the Haitian Creole most familiar to its students. (Photo courtesy of Curt Newton, used with permission).


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2017



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Course Description

Course Features

Educator Features

Course Highlights

The Instructor Insights section features video interviews with Professor Michel DeGraff in both Kreyòl and English.

Course Description

Caribbean Creole languages result from language contact via colonization and the slave trade. In this course we explore the history of Creole languages from cognitive, historical and comparative perspectives. We evaluate popular theories about "Creole genesis" and the role of language acquisition. Then we explore the non-linguistic aspects of Creole formation, using sources from literature, religion and music. We also look into issues of Caribbean identities as we examine Creole speakers' and others' beliefs and attitudes toward their cultures. We also make comparisons with relevant aspects of African-American culture in the U.S.

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Michel DeGraff. 24.908 Creole Languages and Caribbean Identities. Spring 2017. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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