Category Archives: Announcements and reviews

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.

New publication Philipp Krämer: Combien de néerlandais?

Recently I received a new publication by Philipp Krämer (Freie Universität Berlin):

‘Combien de néerlandais? Histoire linguistique et histoire de la linguistique dans les Îles Vierges Danoises’,  in: Histoire Épistémology Langage 38/1 (2016), p. 103-120. It is digitally available at: Combien de Néerlandais?

Krämer’s English abstract and keywords are the following:


For centuries, the Dutch-based Creole language of the Danish Virgin Islands was documented not by the Dutch but mainly by German missionaries and Danish colonialists. This article sheds light on the role of the Dutch language in this complex colonial universe. Historical sources from the 18th and 19th century will show which sociolinguistic role Dutch played in the society of the islands and which (meta-)linguistic knowledge of Dutch the authors of these sources (C.G.A. Oldendorp, J.M. Magens, and E. Pontoppidan) had. Some reflections on the discursive and epistemological foundations of the sources and the significance they attribute to the Dutch language will conclude the article in order to show that the linguistic compexities of this archipelago are diferent from most other Creole-speaking areas.


Colonialism, Christian mission, Creole languages, cariole (“Negerhollands”), Dutch, universalism, racialism, Danish Virgin Islands”





Berbice Dutch Creole in collection Meertens Institute

In the West Indies only three Dutch related Creole languages existed. In Guyana two languages existed. Of Skepi Dutch, which was spoken on the borders of the Essequibo river, we only know a few sentences and a Swadesh list full of words. The first known sentence of this language, from 1780, was found only a few years ago by Marijke van der Wal in one of the letters which were studied in her Letters as Loot project. Robertson (1989) shows a resemblance in vocabulary of Virgin Islands Dutch Creole and Skepi Dutch, which may point to a similar Dutch/Zeelandic superstrate.

Berbice Dutch is a unique Creole language from which the African influence can be traced to one language which is spoken in Nigeria. There is far more to tell about this language and interested ones should at least consult Silvia Kouwenberg’s dissertation and the work of Ian Robertson on the discovery of the language in the 1970s.

The Dutch Meertens Institute (which is one of the institutes of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences) is, among Dutch folklore and onomastics, specialized in Dutch dialectology in the broadest sense. In its last newsletter it presents their conservation of Silvia Kouwenberg’s material of Berbice Dutch, which is safe for the future because of the Data Seal of Approval.

More information, in Dutch, can be found here.



THREE publications Virgin Islands Dutch Creole in July!

Last month three publications about, or related to, Virgin Islands Dutch Creole, appeared, at least in my mailbox. Alphabetically the first one is:

Kouwenberg, Silvia. 2016. ‘Review Article (…) Nineteenth-Century Creolist Work and Its Reflections on Language and Community’. In: Historiographia Linguistica 43: 1/2, p. 206-222. >On the occasion of Krämer, Philipp (ed.) (2014).

In the first place the following note of Kouwenberg is remarkable:

“Contemporary reference is simply to die creol taal (the creole language) or variants thereof; the term Negerhollands (literally: Negro Dutch) was coined by a Dutch linguist in 1840, and has been in use among students of the language ever since (Van Rossem & Van der Voort 1996: vii), despite some attempts to rechristen it (something like) Virgin Islands Dutch Creole. Given that its speakers did not refer to the language as Negerhollands, and taking into account the modern connotations of the term, it seems to me that that term is overdue for retirement.”

In our institute in Nijmegen we try to use Virgin Islands Dutch Creole as consequently as possible. Our German colleagues Krämer and Stein prefer to use the term Carriolsch, since it was the first name which was given to this language in written texts. In Troels Roland’s article a separate section (Sprogets navn, p.181-183) is dedicated to this subject.

This review of Philipp Krämers book about 19th century Creolistics is does not only refer to Virgin Islands Dutch Creole material, of course. Page 215 and 216 are about Pontoppidan’s contribution to the study of Virgin Islands Dutch Creole.

Roland, Troels Peter. 2016. ‘”Ju ben een Creol waer-waer”’. In: Kulturstudier 1 (Juli), pp. 159-187.

Troels Roland’s article is in Danish, but accompanied by an abstract in English which makes me very curious about the content of the entire article. Not only because of the interesting period 1750-1850 in which most written texts appeared and in which Dutch Creole was replaced by English Creole, but mainly because of the Danish perspective and the use of (Danish) sources which I did not see in references related to Dutch Creole before. The article is digitally available at

Of the third July article I received a pdf from Peter Stein. In this French text, which is richly illustrated, Stein presents an insight into the early years of Virgin Islands Dutch Creole

Stein, Peter. 2016. ‘La documentation ancienne du créole disparu des Îles Vierges Danouises’. In: Les Cahiers créoles du patrimoine de la Caraïbe/Pawol maké asi mès é labitid an Péyi Karayib 6: Les langues créoles / Palé Kréyol!, [Guadeloupe]: CANOPÉ. pp. 37–39.

Review of ‘Language contact in the Danish West Indies: Giving Jack his jacket’

About this moment, only four years ago, Robin Sabino’s Language contact in the Danish West Indies: Giving Jack his jacket appeared. This work is without a doubt THE description of spoken Virgin Islands Dutch Creole and contains a bulk of information about all stages and aspects of this Dutch related Creole.

In the latest volume of Journal of Pidgin and Creole Language Peter Bakker (Aarhus University) published his review:

Bakker, Peter. 2016. Review of Language contact in the Danish West Indies: Giving Jack his Jacket. By Robin Sabino. Leiden: Brill 2012. Pp. 337 ISBN 978-90-04-22540-4 (Brill’s Studies in Language, Cognition and Culture, Volume 1) (…). In: Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 31: 1, p. 223-228.

Other reviews of Sabino (2012) are Migge (2013) and Van den Berg & Van Sluijs (2015).

Thomas Stolz’s ‘Gibt es das kreolische Sprachwandelmodell?’ on

In 1986 Thomas Stolz (University Bremen) published his thorough study of Virgin Islands Dutch Creole. In German he presents an extensive description of VIDC grammar. At the moment it is available as download for members of

Van Sluijs about Grammaticalization of ‘Mankeer’

On September 28th, Robbert van Sluijs presented his paper Grammaticalization and semantic development of lack > need > want  in Virgin Islands Dutch Creole (Negerhollands) mankee(r) during the Workshop on Grammaticalization of the Radboud University Nijmegen. An abstract can be found here:


SPCL Graz July 7-9, 2015: Peter Stein: Oldendorp’s Grammar, the original Manuscript version: an unknown masterpiece of modern creolistics

Next week Peter Stein (University of Bremen) will present a very interesting description of Virgin Islands Dutch Creole: the original version of Oldendorp’s Grammar (1768). From the 1980s on  Stein published a lot about the ‘earliest creolists’ namely the translators of the Moravian Brethren,, mainly based on a bulk of texts written in Virgin Islands Dutch Creole/Negerhollands. In 2000 he was one of the editors of the original manuscript of Oldendorp’s History of the Moravian Brethren in the Danish Antilles. This edition is much more extensive than the original 1770 publication Geschichte der Mission der Evangelischen Brüder auf den Caraibischen Inseln S. Thomas, S. Croix und S. Jan.

Please see the conference program here.

and the conference booklet here. Stein’s abstract is on p. 112.

Van Rossem about Word Order Change and Audience Design (ROLD, Amsterdam 2015)

On thursday June 11th, 2015 I have presented my paper ‘Numbers to change word order, Philogical aspects of Negerhollands texts to study audience design’ at the Revitalizing Older Linguistic Documentation meeting at the University of Amsterdam. The contents will be published in my dissertation. My PowerPoint can be found here.

ROLD 11 juni 2015 Numbers SHORT DEF

Van Sluijs about change or variation in historical data

In this article, which was already published in December 2014, Robbert van Sluijs focuses on the Virgin Island Dutch Creole imperfective and prospective aspect markers LE and LO. Does the distribution of these markers reflect language change between the eighteenth and twentieth century ? Or is it due to sociolinguistic variation?

Read the article here.