Haitian Creole Maintenance In The Greater Chicago Area by Johnny Laforêt, PhD

Oct. 4, 2022
Johnny Laforêt, PhD

This book examines the question of language maintenance and transmission by Haitian immigrants in the greater Chicago area based on fieldwork conducted in that community for almost two years. Essentially, this book addresses three main questions into which a few others are embedded: (1) Have the Haitian immigrants living in the greater Chicago area been able to successfully maintain Haitian Creole without shifting to English? (2) If so, how have they managed? And (3), if they have not been as successful, what have been the causes?

This volume answers these and the related questions unambiguously and considers the theoretical implications of the findings. Specifically, the analysis of the data, which were collected via several instruments including a questionnaire and selected follow-up interviews, showed that the Haitian immigrants have, to a large extent, successfully maintained Haitian Creole through the second generation and to a limited extent the third generation. They have achieved these results through a combination of language and cultural maintenance strategies including: the use of Haitian Creole in the family domain; participation in the church for religious and community-wide interactional purposes; engaging themselves in social gatherings to mark special events such as celebrations of Haitian historical event (i.e., Independence Day, Flag Day, etc.); and tuning into radio or TV programs that are broadcast in Haitian Creole.


In this superbly well-argued volume, linguist Johnny Laforêt studies how the Haitian immigrant community in the greater Chicago area continues speaking its original language, Haitian Creole, without shifting entirely to English. This is the first comprehensive research of this sort based on sociolinguistic data obtained from a large questionnaire, qualitative data analysis, contexts of use of Haitian Creole, and solid knowledge of the community. Laforêt’s book is destined to become a classic in the field of language maintenance among linguistic minority communities.

- Dr. Hugues Saint-Fort, retired CUNY Professor

About the Author

Johnny Laforêt, PhD

Johnny Laforêt, PhD, a Fulbright scholar from Paillant, Haiti, holds a PhD in French Linguistics, Second Language Acquisition, and Teacher Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since 2016, Dr. Laforêt has been a Lecturer in French and Head of Course at Princeton University. His main research interests include Language Maintenance, Shift, and Loss, French Linguistics, Francophonie, Créolophonie, Language Pedagogy, Haitian history, culture, and literature.