African languages in the 1700s Danish West Indies

voyages slave routes

Most of the Danish West Indian population during the colonial era did not come from Denmark, but had African roots. Even though the African languages only survived as traces in the creoles of the islands, we know that they were used (recessively) in the Virgin Islands for centuries. Danish slave ships transported around 100,000 Africans to the West Indies between 1673 and 1807, and census data from the Danish National Archives (Rigsarkivet) shows that in 1841 – just seven years before the emancipation – close to 10 percent of the unfree population on Saint Croix was born in Africa.

So, which African languages were spoken in the former Danish West Indies?

Since there are somewhere between 1,500 and …

Language attitudes towards Sheng: deterioration or unification?

sheng nation

This post is a rewritten version of my paper for the course ‘Postcolonial Linguistics’, offered at Linguistics at Aarhus University in the autumn of 2013. I wanted to delve into different language attitudes towards Sheng – and what better way to do it than through Youtube video comments?

Sheng? WTF?

Sheng is as a language variety of Swahili – a mixture of Swahili, English and a host of regional languages of Kenya. The grammatical structure stems from Swahili while incorporating terms from English and indigenous Kenyan tongues (e.g. Dholuo and Kikuyu). Consider the following example (adapted from Abdulaziz and Osinde 1997:56):

Kithora   ma-doo       za      mathee
steal      PL-money    of      mother
‘To steal my mother’s money.’

Here, kithora stems from the Kikuyu …