MLL Students Translating Historical Documents into Haitian Creole

French Translation Students Daphney Vastey and Pierre Malbranche creating digital scholarship in Creole

Colony in Crisis in Haitian Creole Translation: Digital Scholarship in the Making at MSU

The digital history project A Colony in Crisis: The Saint-Domingue Grain Shortage of 1789 is a virtual primary source document reader in translation focusing on colonial Saint-Domingue that was initiated by the University of Maryland in 2014. The reader offers three sets of curated English translations of French archival sources on political life, commerce, the lives of people of color, and the moments leading up to the Haitian Revolution.

MSU Center for Translation and Interpreting and MSU Center for the Digital Humanities are now contributing to this project to offer a first set of Creole translations. Daphney Vastey and Pierre Malbranche, both French majors in the translation concentration, are the two student translators involved in the pilot phase of this endeavor. The students have been working under Dr. Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim Aibo’s supervision to create digital artifacts--translation and audio recordings of their translation--for the Haitian community and Haitian Studies scholars.

These historical translations are crucial since they offer an account of colonial history in Creole as opposed to countless existing narratives in the ex-colonizers’ languages, such as French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese.