Flatbush, Brooklyn

French, Neighborhoods

March 10, 2013

I went here one day looking for Haitian French. I found a lot of Creole. And maybe a few cuss words. It was fun to walk around, though, and one could certainly see the influence of French on business names and store signs.

For this expedition I got off at the Prospect Park subway stop and walked over to Flatbush Avenue.

According to the website of the Haitian Times, a weekly distributed here and in Haiti, “In the last two decades the number of Haitian immigrants in the New York metropolitan area has grown from 100,000 to close to 500,000 people.” That’s a lot!

Haitian Creole and French are Haiti’s two official languages. Official recognition came late to Haitian Creole, despite the fact that it is spoken by virtually everyone in Haiti, while French is spoken by a much smaller percentage of the population. Although French has a powerful hold on business, government, and literature there, only 10 to 20 percent of Haitians speak it.

I was surprised by that statistic, because in my New York experiences, I have met quite a few French-speaking Haitians.

Flatbush Avenue
Flatbush Avenue
Belle Fourchette on Church Avenue
Belle Fourchette on Church Avenue

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