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Haiti Relief Efforts Aided by IU’s Creole Dictionary

U.S. aid workers making their way to Haiti are packing a must-have item in their knap sacks that comes almost exclusively from Indiana University.

Haiti Relief

Photo: Red Cross

Finnish and German Red Cross teams emptying plane carrying operational theater and a 100-patient-ward for a field hospital and loading them to trucks. Port-au-Prince, Haiti, January 22, 2010.

U.S. aid workers making their way to Haiti are packing a must-have item in their knap sacks that comes almost exclusively from Indiana University.

Indiana University’s Haitian Creole Institute publishes what may be the most comprehensive, and perhaps ‘only,’ English to Haitian Creole dictionary in the world.

Bradley Levinson is the director of IU’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and said the Institute is already overwhelmed with requests for the dictionaries.

“Basically they’re not available off the shelf at a Borders,” Levinson said. “You have to order them from the Creole institute. It has become very clear that the linguistic dimensions of the disaster are very important.”

Levinson said the University’s collection of literature will help replenish supplies of books lost to the earthquake.

“Various universities and libraries were destroyed in the earthquakes and so we have unique expertise here to try to reconstruct some of that and to try get resources that we have here in Indiana actually back to Haiti as part of the process of reconstruction,” Levinson said, adding that University officials are giving financial support to relief efforts, in addition to making scholarly contributions.

Faculty at the school of Health, Physical Education and Recreation are partnering with the Center for Latin American Studies to send a cargo container full of relief supplies to the country.

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