Thursday, January 21, 2010

HAITI" the word

`ST. John 1-1 In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the was God.

Every thing has a beginning; the sun ,the moon, the stars, a people, a nation, and the language-word, have their beginnings some were in time.
What does the word Haiti mean?
Webster's Dictionary - Haiti, country occupying the W portion of Hispaniola: 10,714 sq. mi. ; pop. ?????? - Haitian : (that's all they will give you).

The ancient name of Haiti

A dialog from Bob Corbett's Haiti list, January-February 1999

Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 11:15:58 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett
Sender: Robert Corbett
Reply-To: Robert Corbett y Subject: Haiti : the ancient name of Haiti
To: Bob Corbett

Today I was cataloguing a new booklet into my library, called THE ABORIGINES OF THE ANCIENT ISLAND OF HISPANIOLA by Herbert W. Krieger. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1929.

The first sentence is: The island of Hispaniola, anciently known as Haiti to its aboriginal inhabitants, is occupied jointly by the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Haiti.

This struck me as curious. The FACT in question, the ancient name of Haiti, is one that I have known since..... well, a long time. But I never think about it much and I don't think I'd every noticed a sentence like that before. It made me start reflecting.

First there was Haiti. Then the Spanish changed the name to Santo Domingo. Eventually in 1697 there is the formal division of the island into Santo Domingo and Saint-Domingue. The Dominican side has several fluxuations of name over the years, and, as this group knows only too well, on Jan. 1, 1804, Saint-Domingue ceases to exist and modern Haiti is born.

I think every school child in Haiti knows all this, but it seems curious that it is easy to forget that there was a full circle for at least this 1/3 the island of Hispaniola from Haiti to Saint-Domingue and then back to Haiti again.

Just a tidbit for this Superbowl Sunday!

Best, Bob

Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 15:08:42 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett
Subject: Re: Haiti : the ancient name of Haiti: Bellegarde-Smith clarifies
To: Bob Corbett

From: P D Bellegarde-Smith

Bob: First, there was Ayiti, Quisqueya and Bohio. The Haitians took the first, the Dominican, the second, and thank God, no one took the third! The Spanish first called the three-named island, La Isla Espanola (before Santo Domingo), later mispronounced and known by its diminutive, Hispaniola. On January 1st 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and the victorious insurgents gave the WHOLE island its ancient name, Hayti. At that time, the whole island belonged to France, and the eastern two-thirds remained in French hands. In the 1820s, Dominicans would come to refer to their side as Spanish Hayti. In French encyclopedias and dictionaries, and thus for the entire francophone world, TODAY, there is the island of haiti subdivided into the Republic of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In the 1930s, I beleive, at the urging of the Dominican government, the geographic board that decide on these matters, renamed or named the whole island Hispaniola. In Haiti, this was seen as a victory for Dominican diplomacy. In Haiti, we refer to the country next door as Dominicanie.


Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 07:51:08 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett
Sender: Robert Corbett
Reply-To: Robert Corbett
Subject: The name of Haiti: more comments
To: Bob Corbett

From: Elizabeth Ritza Vieux

I respect Bellegarde's view point when he says and I quote: Bob: First, there was Ayiti, Quisqueya and Bohio. The Haitians took the > first, the Dominican, the second, and thank God, no one took the third!

But who knows, we could have been better off if the third name 'Bohio' was the actual one chosen for our country Haiti.

If we decompose the word 'haitiens,' phonetically we get 'Hai Siens' = qui hait les siens (One who hates his own)

Isn't it quite a reality in our country, where hatred is like a desease acid that corrodes our country, where one hates the other and usually for no particular reason... it's been like this since the beginning...

I believe that a name can have an important impact or influence on: a person, an animal or why not a country. I heard from my grand mother of a girl whose name meant something like veuve = widow. She got married 3 times, and each time she would lose her husband (by death). This might not be related to her name, but who can say that it was not either...

At least, Bohio means soulier = shoe. 'Shoe' is a necessary footwear. So, it's useful. This is much more positive than Haiti which I see as a negative word.

I'd rather say, Why God, Bohio was only the third name. We went for the first, but in fact, we ended up being the last...


From: ange perrault

>From: P D Bellegarde-Smith
>On January 1st 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and the
>victorious insurgents gave the WHOLE island its ancient name, Hayti.

I have seen old french maps and they spell haiti: AYTI (without the H) Could anyone comment on the spelling of the ancient name?

This is all nice and everything, but why do all geography/history books insist on referring to the island as HISPANOLA (Little Spain)?

Dominicans will never call the island HAITI (why means High Mountains) beside DR is flat, and made of mostly plains.

QUISQUEYA is what they call it, and I think most haitians would approve the name. So it is not WE who keep getting it wrong, it is THOSE who write the history books who refuse to make the change (I don't think I need to elaborate).

PS: Could someone tell me the origin of the word: AFRICA? Since it is not Haiti related, reply to me directly.

>From: P D Bellegarde-Smith
>In the 1930s, I beleive, at the urging of the Dominican government,
>the geographic board that decide on these matters, renamed or named the whole
>island Hispaniola.

No doubt a TRUJILLO campaign of remaining closely associated with Spain and distanting themselves from Haitians, but what about now? How do dominicans feel about calling the island HISPANOLA, or do they prefer QUISQUEYA?

Ronel Perrault, PhD

From: Yacine Khelladi

Toma is the last name of Haiti

ayiti toma

as Robert Corbett or Jhon Doe

Haiti the only country that has a first and a last name

Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 08:27:27 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett
Subject: ancient names (fwd)
To: Bob Corbett

I have wondered about how the africans of the french period knew so much about the ancient inhabitants. It is said that virtually all of the indians were gone by 1550 or so.

There were not very many slaves imported to the caribean by that time, altho Hugh Thomas (in The Slave Trade) says that africans brought to Santo Domingo encouraged the indians to run away from the spanish settlements. There couldn't have been very many africans there by then tho.

Perhaps early african slaves intermarried with the people of the island? I haven't heard much talk of this.

Haitians do revere the cacique Anacaona. When was she killed? How have these stories become such a part of Haitian mythology?

Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 17:36:19 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett
Sender: Robert Corbett
Reply-To: Robert Corbett
Subject: Ancient names: several responses
To: Bob Corbett


A recent text which people may find useful in terms of this discussion of names of origins and the mixed heritage (Native, African and European) of the island is Alan Cambeira's __Quisqueya La Bella: The Dominican Republic in Historical and Cultural Perspective__ (M.E. Sharpe, 1997) which discusses both sides of the island in both personal and historical terms...highly readable with many secondary sources cited and listed...A point Alan makes is that it is in fact an error to believe that all Native people were wiped out and that the Native heritage does in fact reveal itself in a number of ways culturally, etc.

Myriam J. A. Chancy
Associate Professor of English
Department of English
P.O. Box 870302
Tempe, AZ 85287-0302


In a message dated 2/2/99 12:57:31 PM, dlyall wrote:

I can imagine four possible options:
1. They made it up.
2. They found this out through research and lectures at the spectacular libraries and academic centers of the various kingdoms before the Spaniards destroyed them.
3. They divined it through their mystical vodou powers.
4. Something happened which the people who killed and opressed both groups did not know about or bother to document for our appreciation.

As Mr. Vedrine has commented: Who writes history, why, and for whom? As I would like to comment: Who knows history and how?

Dahoud André

From: Madison Bell

I can't make any absolute distinctions of fact and mythology on this subject, but here's a bundle of received ideas.

The priest, Las Casas, was influenced by his fondness for the Taino Indians to promote African slavery in Hispaniola, on the idea that the Africans could support slavery better (!) and that the Taino might thus be saved from extermination. If that much is true (it is, I think) then it follows that there would have been some overlap of African and Taino presence under Spanish rule.

During that period (here the distinction between myth and fact may blur) runaway slaves, i.e. mawon yo, had contact with Taino surviving in the mountains. It certainly is possible, if not provable, that some of the last Taino declined to report for extermination and held out in inaccessible locations for longer than generally recognized. And it is true that maroon communities formed around some of the ancient sacred sites of the Taino, such as the caves of Bahoruco.

The idea of a mingling of African and Taino cultures (and bloodlines) in the mountains is an important component of the whole idea of marronage. In this view, the African maroons grafted themselves onto the last roots of the Taino resistance. The cultural fusion extends to Vodu, which is supposed to have some identifiable Taino components (e.g. the asson). I'm sure anthropologists are to be found on every side of that issue, but I've heard it stated as a fact by some of the most reputable.

If this were in fact the situation, then the Taino bloodline would have gradually submerged itself in the African bloodline to the point of invisibility. You can see the late phase of that process today in Dominica, where there is still a tiny Carib reservation. By my eyeball impression, only the oldest members of that community still retain the physical characteristics of their Indian bloodstock one hundred percent. Younger people have an African strain in their appearance and one assumes that in a few more generations the Indian strain will be invisible there too.

What I think myself is that the Taino element of marronage is true at least to some degree and that Haitians do have something of the original inhabitants in them still, in however small a measure.


Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 17:40:33 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett
Sender: Robert Corbett
Reply-To: Robert Corbett
Subject: Name of Haiti: Perrault replies to several others
To: Bob Corbett

From: ange perrault

>From: P D Bellegarde-Smith
>Dominicans refer to the island as Hispaniola.
>The term Quisqueya comes in as a nickname, and as the
>part of the title of the national anthem. It is used much
>as Borinquen refers to Puerto Rico.
>From: Yacine Khelladi
>England (a part of the UK), has a first name and last name
>(in fact, a >nickname), John Bull. The United
>States has Uncle Sam, and France, Marianne. Other
>countries? The Dominican Republic has Quisqueya, and
>Puerto Rico, Borinquen! P.B.-S.


I did not think I had to elaborate, but noone so far is raising the issue, so I will. QUISQUEYA, HAYTI and BORINQUEN are all original names. Not nickname or last name. The point is by not giving back the original name to the land diminishes the contribution of these inhabitants to our history I quote: Christophe Colon a decouvert Haiti en 1492 .... Only contributions from the europeans that came are recognized, before then there was nothing just a bunch of savages running loose.

>I respectfully beg to differ --the DR has Pico Duarte, which
>is higher than any North American mountain east of the
>Mississipi. There are vast mountainous areas in the north,
>south and east, and all around the central Cibao Valley
>--One of the most important, you will be interested to know,
>is Los Haitises, a range of low mountains in the east where
>there is an ecological preserve.


I did not want to twist the Dominicans hands, but is it fair to say, based on your argument that the name of HAYTI would refer to more than the western 1/3 of the island? So, why don't Dominicans call the island HAYTI or why do they only call QUISQUEYA the eastern 2/3? Why not call the island QUISQEYA na dnot HISPANOLA? Again the first European name is the one that sticks.

>From: Emmanuel W. Vedrine
>Sorry, I thought the word AYITI meant beautiful and
>mountaneous lands
in the Marcorix language (one of the main
>languages of Haiti) spoken by the Arawaks. And AYISYEN
>would be the natives of this particular land. Does the origin
>of the word have some connection with hate or the white
>masters taught Ayisyen or Haitiens to hate each
>other? Were the natives fighting eacher other all the time to
>take control of the land or were the French & Spaniards
>fighting each other all the time to take control of AYITI,

I don't this ayi sien thing should be taken seriously. School children plays the same game over and over. At my school we used to say: ayi-chien (hate dog).

Those are school children plays. You are right, those are inconcious word games of a eurocentric education in haiti without taking into consideration the origin of the word.

Ronel Perrault, PhD

Date: Thu, 4 Feb 1999 18:56:33 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett
Subject: Re: ancient names : A reply
To: Bob Corbett

From: JAupont

Looking at an old Histoire D'Haiti text( a 1942 ed.), it mentions the first Black slaves arriving on the island in 1503. This is approximately a year after Nicolas Ovando arrived as the new governor, replacing Bobadilla. As some will remember, this the same Ovando responsible for the treachous death of the Cacique-queen Anacaona. Ovando tricked her into accepting his coming to Leogane to sign a peace treaty or some sort of an agreement. Anyway, after receiving a nice reception from the queen, Ovando placed his hand on the cross he was wearing, at which time his soldiers took captive the queen, bound the indian chiefs to the supporting columns and torched the whole room. Later, in Santo-Domingo, Anacaona was hung publicly.

It appears that the African slaves and the original Haitians both cohabited the island for at least 40 years. Another supporting evidence for this is the story surrounding the Cacique Henri and his autonomy. The text mentions that the Emperor Charles-Quint, worried, wrote to the Cacique Henri requesting a peace agreement. One of the motivations for such a move on the part of the King is that the island was perceived as still being in danger. One of the dangers mentioned was a slave revolt that had already occurred on the habitation of even the Vice-Roi, Don Diego Colomb. The text doesn't mention the exact date, but I'll venture to say that the first slave revolt probably occurred between 1503 and 1510.

If these events happened within the timeframe given here, it would appear that the slave trade had started early enough to have allowed a considerable number of African slaves to have lived and witnessed many of those events before the eventual and complete decimation of the Haitian Arawaks and Caraibes. I wouldn't be surprised though, if the slaves were dragged to the public hanging of the Queen-Cacique Anacanoa just to instill fear and give them a foretaste of the consequences of disobedience of their Spanish masters.

I am of the opinion that slavery was already instituted on the island long before the dissappearance of the native Arawaks and Caraibes. If that's true then these same slaves were eyewitnesses to many of the events that happened on the island. So, naturally, these stories eventually became the basis of much of the myths and folktales that we find today in Haitian folklore.

Jan Opon

Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 14:00:06 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett
Subject: Reply to Hai Siens
To: Bob Corbett

From: Concerned Haitians League/Asanblaj Ayisyen Konsene

> ... If we decompose the word 'haitiens,' phonetically we
> get 'Hai Siens' qui hait les siens (One who hates his own)
> Isn't it quite a reality in our country, where hatred is
> like a desease acid that corrodes our country, where one
> hates the other and usually for no particular reason...
> it's been like this since the beginning...
> I believe that a name can have an important impact or
> influence ....

Dear all,

This is in response to the erroneous breakdown of the word Haitiens into Hai Siens and the negative association of such breakdown. The Concerned Haitian League, in its concern to educate all (including ourselves), considers it an imperative to point out any attempt to diminish the dignity of our nation.

Ayiti as used by the native inhabitants -- at the time of the arrival of the Europeans -- meant mountainous land. The decision of our forefathers in 1804 to revert to Ayiti from the French name Saint-Domingue signified that we Haitians claimed back the land that was taken from the original inhabitants and on which we were forced to toil. From this accepted origin of the name of Haiti, I do not see how a superposition of a breakdown of Haitiens as Hai Siens could have any linguistic significance and psychological validity.

Yet the breakdown above seems to convey the intention to characterize all Haitians as mean-spirited, hateful beings. Having been a victim of ethnic stereotypes (and having been trained as a linguist), I must stress that such a breakdown is based on completely false premises. I hope this message will limit the potentially-negative consequences of MIS-analyzing Haitiens as Hai Siens.

Morphologically, Haitiens does not break down into Hai Siens. Such attempt shows a lack of understanding of basic linguistic rules. One must not confuse phonetic breakdown of a word -- the way it is actually realized in the spoken language -- and the spelling of that word -- the way it is represented in writing. The Haitiens->Hai Siens breakdown fails to use the spelling, morphological and phonetic rules of French --- the correct morphological analysis is: Haiti-en-s

Furthermore, the different components of your breakdown, Hai and Siens do not have any meaning in Haitian Creole. Worse yet, the proposed translation (One who hates his own) would be rendered in French by Qui hait les siens or Hair les Haitiens, but definitely not Hai(t) Siens -- a textbook on French grammar would be very helpful to elucidate this point.

Finally, as mentioned by more than one on the list, the origin of the root Haiti in Haitiens could not have anything to do with French since it was the word used by native inhabitants of the Island way before the coming of the French.

Let's try to promote tolerance and love of one another and not perpetuate ill-formed negative stereotypes.


Francois Canal, Coordinator
Concerned Haitian League
Stony Brook Union Building
Room 252
Stony Brook, New York, 11794
Telephone: (516) 632-4131

The power of words ; positive or negative ; which one should you be called.

If Haiti ; the word is a negative term. Why would I ever call you something negative? I would not, but my enemy would.

Deu-28:37 And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee.

Carl Winbush

Carl Winbush When we allow others to define our existence ; the out come will never be equal or justified. What does the word " Haiti" mean??? They look just like me....

Tue at 9:42am · ·

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