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Kevin Sun

Introduction to Sranan Tongo (Surinamese Creole)

Due to Suriname’s peculiar history as a British colony that was taken over by the Dutch, isolating it from the influence of standard English, the English-based creole language of Suriname is one of the most conservative (or least “de-creolized”) English creoles. Additional layers of Portuguese, African and Dutch influence have produced a language that presents a unique snapshot of the troubled early years of colonialism in the Western Hemisphere. Thanks to Sranan’s English roots and straightforward grammar, this workshop – which will include assisted reading of original Sranan folktales and other texts – should be able to give participants a solid footing in the fundamentals of this language, while providing resources for further independent exploration.

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3 Comments

  • Klara says:

    Hi Kevin, super interesting presentation! I’m happy to now know some basics of Sranan Tongo.
    I’m wondering if you have an idea as to why the Dutch “let” the language evolve on its own? From what I know the only special thing about the Dutch as colonizers was that they were particularly cruel. What do you think could be the socio/cultural/historic/contextual reason for this relatively independent development of Sranan Tongo?

    I had a remark, too, as a native Dutch speaker, the excerpt “boy fu mi” sounds more like boy “van mij” = “of me”, informal Dutch for “my”. Could “fu” come from Dutch “van” instead of English “of”?

  • AnouskaGuds says:

    Kuneti masra Kevin Sun,
    Mi wan ferster yu nanga a moi wroko sa yu doe.
    Mi pot’ yes’ arki en mi lob’ fa ‘ie tjar a tongo k’a fesi.

    I´m a Surinamese living in Mexico and sranan tongo is a language I love speaking when talking to friends or family.

  • Valentin.cb says:

    Hey Kevin, thanks a lot for your presentation! I was amazed when I was that Sranan was on the programme – you’re basically one of the reasons I signed up for the whole online Conference 😛

    I actually happen to have lived in Suriname for a few months last year (I’m from mainland France, btw) and I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t learn Sranan (even though I do own the Little Prince in that language). I only leanred Dutch while I was there for daily interactions so as to use English as little as possible.
    Considering that I live in the Netherlands now, learning Dutch did prove to be useful and many things here remind me of my Surinamese experience.

    Anyway, feel free to reach me if you’d like to chat about Suriname – or anything else really! I really hope you’ll make it to Suriname in the near (post-Covid) future!

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