Berbice Creole Dutch

Berbice Creole Dutch

Infobox Language
name=Berbice Dutch Creole
speakers=4 or 5 (as of|1993) [Kouwenberg: p. 233.]
fam1=Creole language
fam2=Dutch Creole

Berbice Dutch Creole is Dutch-based creole language of Guyana. It has a lexicon partly based on a dialect of the West African language of Ijaw.

After the conquest of English Guyana by the Dutch in 1664 and the subsequent Treaty of Westminster (1674) in which the English handed it over in exchange for New Amsterdam, the coastal areas came under Dutch cultural influence. However, this influence was rather slight, and did not reach much further than the town of Berbice. When the colony was reconquered by the British in Napoleonic times and split up into Dutch and British parts after the Vienna Congress, the Berbice slaves kept speaking Creole Dutch among themselves, until the language came in decay in the 20th century. As of 1993 there were some 4 or 5 elderly speakers of the language, although other sources report tens of speakers.

Berbice Creole Dutch is, as are "Negerhollands" (extinct) and Skepi Creole Dutch (with a similar preservation status as Berbice Dutch), not based on Hollandic Dutch (the dialect that is closest to Standard Dutch) but on Zeelandic.



There is a large degree of free variation in the vowels, with the range of realizations of the phonemes overlapping.

IPA|/e/ and IPA|/ɛ/ are almost in complementary distribution, and were probably allophones at an earlier stage of the language.


IPA| [ʃ] is usually in complementary distribution with IPA| [s] , occurring only before IPA|/i/, but there are a handful of exceptions.

IPA|/v/ and IPA|/z/ occur only in loanwords from Guyanese Creole.



*cite book |author=Kouwenberg, Silvia |year=1994 |chapter=Berbice Dutch |editor=Jacques Arends, Pieter Muysken & Norval Smith |title=Pidgins and Creoles: An Introduction |publisher=John Benjamins |pages=233–243

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