Category Archives: Dutch related contact languages

Use of Skepi Dutch Creole to determine border

Although this website is originally dedicated to Virgin Islands Dutch Creole, information about the two closest relatives is too beautiful not to show or mention.

Today I was reminded that the International Court of Justice in The Hague (The Netherlands) holds public hearings in the case of Guyana versus Venezuela. In the nineteenseventees Ian Richardson, who discovered the last speakers of Berbice Dutch Creole and rememberers of Skepi Dutch Creole, was also looking in such a border conflict. Through his research I was directed to nineteenth century material in which, I think for the first time, the border between Guyana and Venezuela had to be established.

In this material a remarkable procedure was used. When the local people used Spanish as their contact language, the area was related to Venezuela. However, when Dutch Creole, or Dutch Patois, was used, the area should be a part of the Essequibo region of Guyana.

The last few years some extraordinary discoveries in the field of Skepi Dutch were done. A sentence from 1780 was found in the Letters as Loot Corpus of Leyden University (Van der Wal) and a nineteenth century diary of a missionary turned out to contain a huge list of sentences and words in this language (Jacobs and Parkvall 2020). And… there is more to come.

Here you will find a link to the nineteenth century description of the Venezuela-British Guiana boundary arbitration (1898):

Skepi Dutch: sensational source found by Jacobs and Parkvall

No, it is not about Virgin Islands Dutch Creole, but about one of the two other Dutch related Creole Languages in the Caribbean. In 1989 Ian Robertson of University of the West Indies, Trinidad, compared the Swadesh lists of Virgin Islands Dutch Creole, Berbice Dutch and Skepi Dutch and suggested that the least known of the three, Skepi Dutch looked more like Virgin Islands Dutch Creole than to Berbice Dutch which existed along the Berbice river and Wiruni Creek, quite next to the Essequibo river where Skepi was once the contact language.

In Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, 35 (2020), 2, p.360-380 Bart Jacobs and Mikael Parkvall present a formerly unknown source of the mysterious Skepi Dutch language which doubles the vocabulary of Skepi Dutch and which adds about 120 sentences to the corpus.

On I wrote an introduction to this important article. It is in Dutch, and you can find it here:

An English translation will be published soon.

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.

Berbice and Skepi Dutch, and Virgin Islands Dutch Creole, a lexical comparison

In 1989 Ian Robertson published his article ‘Berbice and Skepi Dutch, a lexical comparison’ in Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde. As far as I know it is the best source for the lexicon of Skepi Dutch, the Dutch related Creole of which we know so little.

In this article the lexicon of these two Guyanese Creole languages are also compared to that of Virgin Islands Dutch Creole. A Zeelandic lexifier has already been linked to all three languages, however Skepi Dutch and Virgin Islands Dutch Creole seem to be closer related than Berbice and Skepi Dutch. The past years especially Peter Bakker (Aarhus University, Denmark) studied the links between these languages.

The article is digitally available on the so-called Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren. You can find the link it here: Robertson 1989