Substrate Influence in Creole Formation
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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This paper reports on ongoing research on the role of various kinds of potential substrate languages in the development of the semantic structures of Ndyuka (Eastern Suriname Creole). A set of 100 senses of noun, verb, and other lexemes in Ndyuka were compared with senses of corresponding lexemes in three kinds of languages of the former Slave Coast and Gold Coast areas, and immediately adjoining hinterland: (a) Gbe languages; (b) other Kwa languages, specifically Akan and Ga; (c) non-Kwa Niger-Congo languages. The results of this process provide some evidence for the importance of the Gbe languages in the formation of the Suriname creoles, but also for the importance of other languages, and for the areal nature of some of the collocations studied, rendering specific identification of a single substrate source impossible and inappropriate. These results not only provide information about the role of Gbe and other languages in the formation of Ndyuka, but also give evidence for effects of substrate languages spoken by late arrivals some time after the “founders” of a given creole-speaking society. The conclusions are extrapolated beyond Suriname to creole genesis generally.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): areal linguistics; creole genesis; Eastern Maroon Creole; Gbe; Kwa; semantic structure
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