Words from Dutch Creole in Virgin Islands Creole English

At the end of the eighteenth century the vernacular language of the Danish Westindies changed, to my opinion, quite drastically. Dutch and Virgin Islands Dutch Creole were replaced by English and Virgin Islands English Creole. The manuscript of Wied ‘Lieder, confirmationsunterricht u.a.m. teils in kreolischer, teils in englischer Sprache (1842-1847) shows a striking example. The first 60 pages are in Virgin Islands Dutch Creole. The remaining pages are in English. The author remarks: ‘In den 40er Jahren des 19. Jahrh. verschwand auf den Westindischen Inseln die kreolische Sprache und wurde durch die englische verdrängt.’ [In the 40s of the 19th century the creole language disappeared on the West-Indian Islands and was superseded by the English one.]”

However, Dutch Creole words and perhaps even structures, were preserved in the English Creole. In Lito Valls’s dictionary of Virgin Islands English Creole ‘What a Pistarckle!’ several words are marked as ‘dutch creole’, however often accompanied by ‘obsolete’.

Kristoffer Friis Bøegh and Peter Bakker (both Aarhus University) have been digging in this dictionary, excavating not only the marked words, but also the ones who were not recognized before as been originating from Dutch or Dutch Creole.

In an extensive, but very readable article of 38 pages their search and findings are presented. Although it is published as a digital article for Trefwoord on the website of Instituut voor de Nederlandse taal, it is in English. In the References section the forthcoming dissertation of Kristoffer Friis Bøegh is mentioned: a book to look forward to!


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