Dissertation Van Rossem available!



PhD defence Van Rossem, December 20, 2017

Next week, on wednesday December 20, I will defend my PhD-thesis The Virgin Islands Dutch Creole Textual Heritage: Philological Perspectives on Authenticity and Audience Design. The defence will take place at the Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands. The thesis will appear as no 477 in the LOT-dissertation series. An Open Source version will be available from December 20th on. I will publish the link on this website.

foto van Cefas van Rossem.

Sebastian Dyhr’s 2001 thesis on Magens and his grammar digitally available

In 2001 Sebastian Adorján Dyhr wrote his M.A. thesis ‘Grammatik over det creolske sprog’ af Joachim Melchior Magens I en lingvistisk og historisk kontekst (Aarhus Univeritet, supervisor: Peter Bakker). This thesis is an extensive description of this first published Creole Grammar and its author. I am very grateful to Dyhr for giving permission to make it available on my website.

Not only his description of the grammar is of interest. Dyhr discovered the original ‘Magens’ letter which was published by Schuchardt and commented on by Hesseling in Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde (1914). This letter is the only example of Virgin Islands Dutch Creole from the end of the nineteenth century, a period in which this language was thought to have been extinct. This appendix is however only available on request.

The thesis can be found on the Scanned publications page

Peter Bakker (Aarhus University) compares all Caribbean varieties of Dutch Creole!

Only recently John Benjamins published

This great book in which the phylogenetic approach of relations between Creole languages is extensively explores is (thank you so much, editors and publisher!)  available as open source text: http://www.jbe-platform.com/content/books/9789027265739

At first sight, Peter Bakker’s contribution is most interesting for the study of Dutch Creoles., so I haven’t checked al other chapters yet….

Already in 1989 Ian Robertson compared three Caribbean Dutch Creoles and published an interesting Swadesh wordlist comparison in Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Letterkunde. In 2014 Peter Bakker published his comparison of Skepi Dutch, Berbice Dutch and Virgin Islands Dutch Creole in Journal of Germanic Linguistics in which he included new material and used a different approach. However, in his new 2017 contribution, chapter 10, Bakker uses the phylogenetic possibilities to connect the relations and linguistic distances between the Caribbean Dutch Creoles. Step by step we are able to follow his search for linguistic and historical relations between these three, extinct, languages.

Bakker, Peter. 2017. ‘Chapter 10. Dutch Creoles compared with their lexifier’, in: Peter Bakker, Finn Borchsenius, Carsten Levisen, Eeva Sippola (eds), Creole Studies – Phylogenetic Approaches. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, p. 276-305.


Doctoral dissertation Robbert van Sluijs

Next Thursday, May 11th 2017, my colleague Robbert van Sluijs will defend his doctoral dissertation Variation and change in Virgin Islands Dutch Creole, Tense, Modality and Aspect.


In seven extensive chapters, Van Sluijs focuses on the Virgin Islands Dutch Creole TMA-system, for instance the use of a, le/lo and ka, especially in sources which are available in the Clarin-NEHOL-corpus.

The interesting book from this creolist of Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands, is published by the Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics, LOT 453. An OpenSource-version will be available in near future.

Frans Kellendonk and Virgin Islands Dutch Creole

The famous Dutch author Frans Kellendonk (1951-1990) was in the process of writing a new novel in the nineteen eightees. The story was inspired by the  probably racist murder of Kerwin Duinmeijer (1983) and the play Leeuwendalers (1647) by the Dutch author Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679), and remained unfinished.

Kellendonk wanted to use a Creole language in his novel and during his visit of Curacao in 1987 he got to know Virgin Islands Dutch Creole. He copied Hesseling (1905) and De Josselin de Jong (1924), but also several pages from Magens (1818). These photo copies and a manuscript in which some words and small sentences are noted by Kellendonk, are stored in the so called Archief Frans Kellendonk in the Library of the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde in the University Library of Leyden.

My article about these notes is published in Nieuw Letterkundig Magazijn, XXXV, 1, mei, 2017, pp. 30-36.

In the same volume Jan Noordegraaf published an article about D.C. Hesseling and his work on Papiamentu: ‘D.C. Hesseling en de West, van classicus tot creolist’. In: Nieuw Letterkundig Magazijn, XXXV, 1, mei, 2017, pp. 25-29.


Great news: The Danish West Indies – Sources of History (Rigsarkivet)

Today, March 1st 2017, the Danish National Archives openend the website for online acces to all its sources related to the Danish Antilles/Virgin Islands. More than one kilometer of sources is available.

A link to the website can be found here.

A direct link to search all records can be found here.

A first glance showed transcriptions and facsimilae. However, help is needed to transcribe as many texts as possible! Visit this link: Crowdsourcing.

Demography of early St. Thomas to study emergence of Virgin Islands Dutch Creole

Several sources point to the Zeelandic/Flemish lexifier of Virgin Islands Dutch Creole. Hesseling mentions that, Logeman, etcetera. In 2000 I published the article ‘Negerhollands, Negerzeeuws, Negervlaams?’ in which I showed that not only Zeelandic, but especially  West-Flemish is of importance as lexifier of VIDC. Since lexical items from these dialects do not appear in Dutch texts from the Danish Antilles at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century, I considered the appearance in VIDC a proof for emigrants from the south of Zeeland and the north of West Flanders.

Demography underlines this. In my article from 2013, of which I have just found out it is digitally available, I study the heritage of the colonists on the basis of a few censuses of St. Thomas, of which the one of 1691 is the most important.

Van Rossem 2013

Digitale Bibliografie van die Afrikaanse Taalkunde

Interested in Dutch related languages? The following link will lead you to the digital bibliography of linguistics of Afrikaans.


With regard to the study of similarities between Dutch related languages, F. Ponelis, 1988. ‘Afrikaans en Taalversteuring’, in: Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe , 28 (2) : 119-149, Jun. is of interest. The full text is also available on the page Scanned publications.

Christmas: earliest VIDC translation

Among the earliest VIDC translations of the New Testament and the Gospel Harmony we have seven versions of Luke 2: 1-21, the Birth of Jesus Christ. The earliest is 321 (manuscript by Böhner, about 1773) and is followed by 322 (manuscipt Böhner, before 1780), 315 (Magens’ printed New Testament), 3231 (1785-1790, Auerbach’s manuscript version), 3232 (about 1795, incomplete manuscript), 318 (1802, Moravian printed New Testament) and 3110 (1833, printed Moravian Gospel Harmony). Most of these texts are available in the Clarin-NEHOL database.

A comparison of these texts presents an interesting insight in the way the translators thought to connect as good as possible to their audience of Creole speakers. The following text is the oldest text, 321, without glosses, however to my opinion quite close to the German source text and therefore quite easy to understand.