Question from Jenny:
Recently in Haiti, I asked how to say “be nice” to some kids who were fussing with each other. Our translator said to say (phonetic spelling) s-ah-j. Can you explain with correct spelling please?
First I want to thank you for sharing one of your experiences from Haiti with us! Although short, it’s great to hear experiences like these, especially when they have to do with learning the language Haitian Creole!
Now, let’s answer your question…
The word he said was “Saj”. That is the correct spelling. The literal translation from Haitian Creole to English is the following:
Saj = Sage
Sage isn’t a commonly used english word these days (not to be confused with the herb, which is spelled the same yet pronounced differently). So just in case any readers are unfimiliar with the word, I’m going to cite the definition.
Marrium-Webster English dictionary defines the word Sage as is written below.
1) adjective meaning; wise through reflection and experience…characterized by wisedom
2) noun meaning; one (as a profound philosopher) distinguished for wisedom
So the Haitian Creole word “Saj” essentially means “Wise”
In the context of the situation you explained, when your interpreter told the kids “Saj!”, he was in other words saying “hey kids, wise up now!“
Here’s a quick break down of this word:
Saj = Sage (wise/wise one)
Sajès = Sageness (wisdom)
Do you know why these are so closely related although being 2 completely different languages? (The answer may surprise you!)
• If you haven’t done so already, I suggest you read the article I recently published titled If You Can Speak English, You Can Learn Haitian Creole (Part 2)
The short answer is that both English and Haitian Creole “borrowed/stole” words from the French language, some of which coincidentally are the same words.
Here is an example:
Jenny, I hope that you are satisfied with the answer I provided. If you still have any questions or comments please let me know! Also, please share more of your experiences with us!
With that being said, I want to take this opportunity to mention that we would love for anyone to submit their experiences about learning Haitian Creole.
Please send any experiences you would like published to: Zazulak44@yahoo.com