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The creoles of Suriname include lexical items from many distinct, identifiable African and European (as well as Amerindian) sources. Among African languages, slave trade records indicate the predominance of Bantu (e.g., Kikongo) and Gbe speakers in the late 17th century, of Gbe speakers in the early 18th century, of Akan speakers in the 1720s and 1730s, and “Upper Guinea” (and to a lesser extent Bantu) speakers thereafter. Assuming this extralinguistically established chronology, this paper tests, for the Suriname creoles generally, but with particular reference to Ndyuka, Huttar’s (2003) claim that “If more than one substrate is involved in the formation of a creole, and one of them precedes the other in the history of the creole, then more basic lexemes are more likely to derive their form from the earlier substrate than are less basic lexemes.”
In a parallel fashion, using what extralinguistic history tells us about the relative chronology of English and Dutch input into Suriname creoles, this paper tests Huttar’s (2003) further claim that “If more than one superstrate is involved in the formation of a creole, and one of them precedes the other in the history of the creole, then more basic lexemes are more likely to derive their form from the earlier superstrate than are less basic lexemes.” The same procedure is applied to the more controversial question of the relative chronology of English and Portuguese input into Suriname creoles. For both African and European languages, the operationalization of the concept “more basic” used for these tests is that proposed in Huttar (2003).
The results provide moderate support for the hypothesis about successive substrate contributions, and stronger support for that about successive superstrate contributions. They also indicate some pre-English Portuguese input into the Suriname creoles, though not about whether such took place in Africa, in the Caribbean, or in Suriname. In addition, they shed light on respective semantic domains in which various substrate and superstrate languages, and substrate vs. superstrate languages, can be expected to make their greatest respective contributions.
The paper also briefly proposes the application of the procedure to Pacific creoles, such as Tok Pisin and Bislama, and conjectures what we are likely to find with respect to the contributions of German or French, respectively, and English in these two languages.