Ndyuka language

Ndyuka language
Spoken in Suriname
Native speakers 30,000
Language family
Creole language
Language codes
ISO 639-3 djk
Linguasphere 52-ABB-ay (varieties:
52-ABB-aya to -aye)

Ndyuka (pronounced /(ɛ)nˈdʒuːkə/ in English), also called Aukan, Ndyuka tongo, Aukaans, Okanisi, Nenge, or Businenge Tongo, is a creole language of Suriname, spoken by the Ndyuka people. Most of the 25 to 30 thousand speakers live in the interior of the country, which is a part of the country covered with tropical rainforests. Ethnologue lists two related languages under the name Ndyuka.

Ndyuka is based on English vocabulary, with influence from African languages in its grammar and sounds. For example, the difference between na "is" and "isn't" is tone; words can start with consonants such as mb and ng, and some speakers use the consonants kp and gb. (For other Ndyuka speakers, these are pronounced kw and gw. For example, the word "to leave" is gwé or gbé, from English "go away".) There are also influences from Portuguese and other languages.

Modern orthography differs from an older Dutch-based orthography in substituting u for oe and y for j. The digraphs ty and dy are pronounced more or less like English ch and j. Tone is infrequently written, though it is required for words such as "isn't". The syllabic Afaka script was devised for Ndyuka in 1908.

The Ndyuka language has three dialects, Ndyuka proper or Aukan, Aluku, and Paramaccan, which are ethnically distinct. Kwinti is distinct enough linguistically to be considered a separate language, though it too is sometimes included under the name Ndyuka.


Here is an example of Ndyuka text, and its translation into English (showing the similitarities as well as the lexical evolution), adapted from Languages of the Guianas (SIL Publications):

En so den be abaa na a líba, dísi wi kai Kawína Líba. Di den abaa de, den abaa teke gwe na opu fu Kawína. En so den be waka langa langa gwe te na Mama Ndyuka ede, pe wi kai Mama Ndyuka.
And so they crossed the river, which we call "Kawina [Commewijne] River". Having crossed it, they went way upstream along the Commewijne. Thus they walked a long, long way, clear to the upper Tapanahony, the place we call "Mama Ndyuka".

The language bears some similarity to Twi and, other Akan languages, spoken by the Akan people of Ghana.[citation needed]

See also

External links

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