Language change in a multiple contact setting

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The South American nation of Suriname features a situation of multiple language contact in which speakers use various languages in changing constellations, and often simultaneously. Sarnami (Surinamese Hindustani) shows traces of koineization of various Indian languages, and the effects of multilingualism involving Sranan Tongo and Dutch, the two dominant languages of Suriname. Sarnami has undergone substantial contact-induced change in its lexicon and grammar, including the rise of SVO alongside the inherited SOV basic word order. We conclude that the ever growing influence of Sranan Tongo and Dutch may lead to more extensive restructuring with similar outcomes as “creolization”. Traditional labels are therefore not always adequate beyond the realm of the canonical creoles involving European lexifiers and (West) African substrate languages.


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