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Kreyòl Lullaby

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Published on Apr 29, 2012

A version of the many that exist of this Haitian Creole (Kreyòl) lullaby, that my sister-in-law learned from no place more exotic than the classic Québec kids' show Passe-Partout. We recorded this windy version of it by the the bassin de Chambly, near fort Chambly, in—you guessed it—Chambly, Québec.

1. Dodo, ti ti ti maman / Go to sleep, little daddy
2. Dodo, ti ti ti papa / Go to sleep, little mommy
3. Si li pa dodo, krab là va manje / If he doesn't go to sleep, the crab's gonna eat him
4. Si li pa dodo, krab là va manje / If he doesn't go to sleep, the crab's gonna eat him

5. Mama e pa la, li ale la rivyè / Mommy's not here, she's gone to the river
6. Papa e pa la, li ale peche krab / Daddy's not here, he's gone to catch crab
7. Si li pa dodo, krab là va manje / If he doesn't go to sleep, the crab's gonna eat him
8. Si li pa dodo, krab là va manje / If he doesn't go to sleep, the crab's gonna eat him*
(Nicholas and I got this wrong when translating in the video. "If YOU don't go to sleep" would be "Si OU pa dodo", which, in fact, is the way it's written in several online lyric transcriptions.)

A note about grammar: This, as I said, was sung on Passe-Partout by people who (probably) don't speak Kreyòl, and passed to my brother and me by his wife, who also doesn't speak Kreyòl. So the lyrics here are accurate to how we sing them, but perhaps not accurate to any authentic Hatian version of the song. For example: "krab la va manje" might be correct, or might be wrong, because according to Kreyòl verb tables, the "futur proche" ("is going to eat") which in French would be "va manger" (note the similarity), in Kreyòl is usually "pral manje". So, at worst, it's a bit of a Kreyòl French mishmash, which I think is fine, since my guess is that that's not a very uncommon thing to hear in Haiti, given that, while Kreyòl is the majority spoken language, French-language media is still common and I can only assume that it's understood by a large portion of the population, despite the fact that for some reason the Online Ethnologue(.com) counts only 600 Haitians out of more than 9 million as French speakers.

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