Friday, May 25, 2018

Virgin Islands Dutch Creole

As a result of the extensive trading activities of the Dutch from the seventeenth century onwards, including the movement and employment of large numbers of slaves, several Dutch creoles emerged. It has even been argued recently that Afrikaans emerged initially as a creole. The Dutch linguist Cefas van Rossem has done extensive work on Dutch creoles in the Caribbean. In the seventeenth and eighteenth century three creoles, which owe much to Dutch, emerged in this part of the world, Skepi Dutch, Berbice Dutch, and Virgin Islands Dutch Creole. The last of these emerged in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries on what were then the Danish Virgin Islands. Moravian missionaries recorded samples of the creole as they learnt it to try and make converts of the local people. Two examples that Van Rossem quotes are ' sellie ha loop slaep mit tien yer' which means 'they went to sleep at ten o' clock', and 'mi graag sal doe die', 'I shall gladly do this'. Danish, Spanish and English elements are also found in the creole. In 1916, the Danish sold the islands to the Americans. The last speaker of the creole passed away in August 1987.
Further reading:
Cefas van Rossem, The Virgin Islands Dutch Creole Textual Heritage: Philological Perspectives on Authenticity and Audience Design. Nijmegen, 2017.

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