Di hou creol – Podcast over Virgin Islands Dutch Creole

This week I started my podcast Di hou creol to present the most interesting snippets in or about Virgin Islands Dutch Creole. At the moment the podcast is in Dutch. Of course it would be great to reach a larger audience, but at the moment I do not have enough time to record an English version.

Vanaf nu is de podcast Di hou creol – podcast over Virgin Islands Dutch Creole beschikbaar via Spotify. In eerste instantie probeer ik een breed publiek te bereiken. Heeft u vragen, opmerkingen of tips? Neem dan via deze website contact met mij op. Veel plezier en hartelijk dank.

Luisteren? Dat kan natuurlijk via Spotify, maar ook via deze link.

Aflevering 1: Di hou creol, Carriolsch en andere namen bevat een overzicht van de geschiedenis van het Virgin Islands Dutch Creole, maar dan wel in grote stappen. Het tweede gedeelte van de aflevering gaat over de namen die deze tijd heeft en heeft gehad. Ik sluit af met wat opmerkingen over de bronnen en ik verwijs natuurlijk naar deze site.

Genoemde bronnen:

Hesseling, D.C. 1905. Het Negerhollands der Deense Antillen. Bij­drage tot de geschiedenis der Nederlandse taal in Ameri­ka. Leiden: Sijthoff.

Rossem, Cefas van. 2017. The Virgin Islands Dutch Creole Textual Heritage: Philological Perspectives on Authenticity and Audience Design. [LOT 477]. Utrecht: Landelijke Onderzoeksschool Taalwetenschap. (Open Access via website https://lotschool.nl/dissertations/)

Rossem, Cefas van, en Hein van der Voort. 1996. Die Creol Taal, 250 years of Negerhollands texts. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Sluijs, Robbert van. 2017. Variation and change in Virgin Islands Dutch Creole, Tense Modality and Aspect. [LOT 453]. Utrecht: Landelijke Onderzoeksschool Taalwetenschap. (Open Access via website https://lotschool.nl/dissertations/)

Deze bronnen zijn te vinden tussen de links in de rechtse kolom van deze website of zijn te vinden via de na de titelbeschrijving genoemde link.

De volgende publicatie is, in tegenstelling tot mijn opmerking in aflevering 1, niet openbaar beschikbaar. De auteur heeft dit boek wel genoemd op zijn profiel op Researchgate.net.

Stolz, Thomas. 1986. Gibt es das kreolische Sprachwandelmodell? Vergleichende Gramma­tik des Negerhöllandischen. Europäische Hochschulschriften, Reihe XXI Linguistik, Bd./Vol. 46. Frankfurt a. M., Bern, New York: Peter Lang. (Zie

Grant project Virgin Islands Dutch Creole!


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 Neerlandistiek.nl 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.

Snow on the Danish Antilles? New article about referee design in early Virgin Islands Dutch Creole

Expected in October 2020, however already mentioned on the website of John Benjamins Publishers is Advances in Contact Linguistics, In honour of Pieter Muysken, edited by Norval Smith, Tonjes Veenstra and  Enoch Oladé Aboh.

This Festschrift contains twelve articles in the field of contact linguistics, of which some were already presented on December 6th 2019 in the Meertens Institute in Amsterdam in the presence of Pieter Muysken himself.

You can find the table of contents here.

Part 1 is dedicated to Creole languages and creole studies, however in Part 4, Sociolinguistic aspects of language contact, you will find my article about referee design in early Virgin Islands Dutch Creole. Voila, the abstract:

Snow on the Danish Antilles?

Referee design in Virgin Islands Dutch Creole

One of the things one does not want to hear when working on a large corpus, is that the content is very artificial, and should be ignored in your research because of the unnatural elements it contains. This is what happened with the Clarin-NEHOL-Corpus of Virgin Islands Dutch Creole. The contents, mainly eighteenth-century missionary texts were considered by some people as ‘just’ a missionary variety which seemed very unlikely to have been used in daily life. Clearly, a theoretical basis was needed to analyse this variety in order to establish the authenticity of these texts. Unexpectedly, Bell’s 1984 Audience Design Model, originally based on spoken language situations, turned out to be ideal for the treatment of older written material. One element of this model, referee design, seemed at first to stand somewhat separate from the other aspects of the theory. However, it enabled us to understand the communication situation which missionaries and their pupils participated in. This article focuses then on referee design as a tool to study eighteenth century Virgin Islands Dutch Creole in particular, and historical Creole texts in general.

Keywords: audience design, missionary linguistics, Clarin-NEHOL-Corpus, historical sociolinguistics, Virgin Islands Dutch Creole


Review The Virgin Islands Dutch Creole Textual Heritage by Peter Bakker

Only a few days ago Peter Bakker (Aarhus University) published his review of my dissertation The Virgin Islands Dutch Creole Textual Heritage: Philological Perspectives on Authenticity and Audience Design (2017) (and my defence) on Lingoblog.dk. You can find the text here.

Bibliography Virgin Islands Dutch Creole is updated

You will find the most recent Bibliography of Virgin Islands Dutch Creole (February 2019) at the related page above.

If you happen to know texts in or about Virgin Islands Dutch Creole, or texts in which parts refer to this language, please let me know to keep this file up to date.

New article or unknown text? I would really like to receive a digital copy!

Lingoblog: Danske låneord i Caribien

Last week the great Danish, however multilingual, linguistic blog Lingoblog posted an interesting item by Kristoffer Friis Boegh on Danish vocabulary in the Caribbean. He is an expert on Virgin Islands English Creole, did his field work on the US Virgin Islands recently and has a good entrance into Danish archival material. You can find the link HERE.

In my work on the provenance of Virgin Islands Dutch Creole words I was always focused on the influence of Dutch, mainly Zeelandic and West Flemish dialects. Of course I wondered why Danish vocabulary did not play a larger role, but I never really dived into this. To be honest: I found it quite hard to distinguish these words from others in the texts I studied: the eighteenth century translations by German translators.

Two cases in the study of twentieth century Virgin Islands Dutch Creole did point to the Danish linguistic influence. In the first place Frank Nelson’s visit to the Virgin Islands in 1936 was mainly triggered by his interest whether still elements of Danish were visible in the former Danish islands. When he found out a Dutch Creole was spoken, he started his field work. See my chapters on this in my thesis (Van Rossem 2017: 251-275 and 277-318).

The second case was in an interview by Gilbert Sprauve (and his students) in the early 1980s of Mrs. Alice Stevens. When he read to her the English translation of De Josselin de Jong’s  version of the Bremen Town Musicians, she did not use the word nume or nomo ‘no more, nothing’, but the intin, which is derived from Danish ingenting (Van Rossem 2017: 255).

Unfortunately this Lingoblog post is in Danish, however the examples are clear and interesting! Several Danish scholars, and I include Peter Bakker, have already showed that knowledge of Danish as L1 has an advantage when studying Creole material. For istance Sebastian Dyhr shows that in his master thesis about Magens (2001) and Troels Roland (2016) in his article and remarks about using Magens in translation or in Danish. Perhaps the hardly studied missionary translations (Hvenekilde and Lanza, 1999) should get extra attention in this respect. (Looking forward to it, Kristoffer!)


Dyhr, Sebastian Adorján. 2001. J.M. Magens: Grammatik over det creolske sprog i en lingvistisk og historisk kontekst. Aarhus Universitet. >Resume at http://archive.is/7ELTA.

Hvenekilde, Anne & Elisabeth Lanza. 1999. “Linguistic variation in two 18th century Lutheran creole primers from the Danish West Indies”, in: Brendemoen, B., E. Lanza & E. Ryen (eds), Language Encounters Across Time and Space, Studies in Language Contact. Oslo: Novus Press. p. 271-292.

Roland, Troels Peter. 2016. ‘”Ju ben een Creol waer-waer”’. In: Kulturstudier 1 (Juli), pp. 159-187. >Digitally available at: http://tidsskriftetkulturstudier.dk/tidsskriftet/vol2016/1-juli/ju-ben-een-creol-waer-waer/



‘Na die Begin Godt a maak Hemel en Aerde’, Van Maris in Weekendavisen

During the months following my promotion (on December 20 2017, some websites paid attention to my research. An article was published by Mathilde Jansen on Nemo Kennislink, a very informative website for Dutch speaking pupils (here), my introduction which I presented just before my Ph.D. defence was published on Caribisch Uitzicht, the website of Werkgroep Caribische Letteren by Michiel van Kempen (here) and I was interviewed by Berthold van Maris of NRC, an important Dutch newspaper.

My colleagues from Aarhus University, Peter Bakker and Kristoffer Friis Boegh surprised me with the Danish translation of Van Maris’s article, which was published in the Danish newspaper Weekendavisen on August 10. (here). Thank you!



Article Van Maris about research Van Rossem in NRC

Dutch journalist Berthold van Maris was interested enough in my research to write an article about in the Dutch newspaper NRC in june 2018. Thank you very much!

A digital version can be found here.

Virgin Islands Dutch Creole Texts to Meertens Institute, Amsterdam

At the end of the 1980s these photocopies of microfilms were send from Herrnhut (Germany) to the Department of General Linguistics of the University of Amsterdam to be digitalized. After the publication of Die Creol Taal (1996) the texts were provisionally archived in Amsterdam. When the Ph.D. projects of Robbert van Sluijs and Cefas van Rossem started, all texts were stored in the Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Since these texts need to be available for further study, I am very happy to announce that these are from now on archived in the Meertens Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam!

The originals are of course in Herrnhut, well archived in the beautiful Unitätsarchiv.