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English-speaking in early Surinam?

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Abstract

I assess the opportunities of English-learning for slaves in early Surinam. Under the gradualist approach no creole could develop until the population balance had shifted significantly in favour of the slaves. With the population figures given by Arends for the years 1675, 1684 and 1695, I calculate that a third of the population could still be English-speaking in 1684 suggesting no prior creolization. However Sranan has to have creolized before the emergence of Saramaccan, due to their many similarities. Arends notes massive slave imports between 1680 and 1689. Price identifies the formation of the Saramaccan tribe from 1690. The figures for 1684 and 1695 reveal that more than half the slaves escaped in this period, supporting Price’s position, and favouring rapid creolization.

References

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