Taalverwerving in onderzoek
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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Research into proficiency in the Surinamese languages by Surinamese children in the Netherlands has to contend with a twofold problem with regard to the question of the norm. There are no clear norms for the Surinamese languages. In addition, there is the general problem of norms for the investigation of primary language loss. To characterize the proficiency of children in Sarnami and Sranan, the languages of the Surinamese Hindustani and Creole communities, the method of working with several judges appears to be fraught with problems. This article reports on the results of an estimation and error analysis with one judge for each language, supplemented with some quantitative language measures.The investigation involved 16 Hindustani and 12 Creole children from primary school classes containing a rather high proportion of children from their own ethnic groups in the Hague ana Amsterdam respectively. The children had to recall a taped story in Sarnami or Sranan, give a summary of a Dutch geography text and relate some experience of their own in a conversation with a Hindustani or Creole researcher. The speech was transcribed and presented in written form to the judges.The mean scores for errors turned out to be remarkably low: there were almost no errors in word order, while morphological and lexical errors remained under 5% and transfer of morphology from Dutch was negligible. Depending on the nature of the task, the judges' estimate of the use of Dutch words instead of Surinamese words (in mixed sentences) varied from 3-10%. The summary yielded most of these. The total number of Dutch words in the geography text was a third. The judges' estimate is in line with the result that judges in general are more tolerant in accepting Dutch words concerning education as being part of the Surinamese lexica. The children produce more complete Dutch sentences in the conversation task, probably because this task approximates to spontaneous language most, while recall and summary tasks stimulate monitoring. In general, the use of Dutch words does not affect the basic grammatical structures of the Suri-namese languages. With regard to social variables, proficiency appears to be linked to the home language for the Hindustani children, and to contact with other children of their own ethnic group for the Creole children. Length of residence in the Netherlands appears not to be important for Hindustani children, while a longer stay appears to result in a lesser degree of proficiency for Creole children. The Eroportion of girls and boys was equal for the Hindustani children, oys appear to be slightly more proficient in Sarnami.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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