Taalpolitieke kwesties in Nederland: 24 maart 1979 in Eindhoven
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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In the multilingual community of Surinam the official language is Dutch. This language has occupied the official status during almost three centuries of colonial government, the intermediate stage of self-government (as part of the kingdom of the Netherlands from 1954 through 1975) and after complete independence in 1975. Though the status of official language did not change, a different language policy had to be adopted with respect to different role components in each of four historical periods. The language policy adopted in each of these periods can be considered the result of social changes which took place, and of attitudinal changes with respect to the functioning of other languages in the community. The changing role of the Dutch language in the four periods is discussed in terms of its changing socio-linguistic profile. The first change was that from an ethnic group specific position (the European population only) to an obligatory position which concerned the whole population. In each of these two periods Dutch was used in relation to all main functions (communication* education., religion and literature). During the period in which Dutch played the ethnic specific role the language Sranan was used as a promoted language to perform the same functions for the slave population of the 17th, 18th and 19th century. This language was also used as language of communication between the Europeans and the slaves. The social change from a slavery society to a society of citizens only had forced the governement to discourage the use of Sranan and to consider Dutch the only language in the country. This obligatory position was eventually disregarded in favor of a partial role of the Dutch language in a multicultural society. The recognition by the government of a multitude of cultural ambitions has led it to accept the possibility of the sharing of functions among languages. Especially with respect to intergroupcoinmunication and literature, the recognition-of the role of Sranan as national language became the main feature of this period. However, the emergency of Surinam-Dutch, as a variety (xized language) of the Dutch language used by the majority of the Dutch speaking community in Surinam, has given the governement of the new republic of Surinam an opportunity to promote cultural integration by means of this language variety. Though this too will have to share functions with Sranan (inter-group communication, literature, etc.), it is suggested that a stan-dardized version might not only change its promoted language status into that of national official language but also give a better criterion to judge and to stimulate performances in education and literature.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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