When Rihanna ‘mumbles’ in her native language

rihanna 749861 1280

You probably noticed that you can’t understand what Rihanna is singing in the chorus of her song “Work”. What most people don’t know, is that she isn’t singing in English. The language she is singing in is the creole language ‘Bajan’.

A creole language is a type of language that can arise under certain circumstances, where people who don’t have any language in common need to communicate. Bajan arose several hundred years ago among West African slaves who were transported to the Caribbean island of Barbados and bought by plantation owners. The slaves needed to communicate with each other, but since they came from many different places in Africa, they didn’t have one language in common. However, when people need …

Book review: An extinct creole language of the Danish West Indies

Rossem forside the virgin islands dutch creole textual heritage philological perspectives on authenticity and audie 328

Cefas van Rossem defended his thesis on the now extinct Dutch Creole language of the former Danish Antilles, or Dansk Vestindien ‘the Danish West Indies’, or the Virgin Islands, on December 20 2017, at the Radboud University of Nijmegen. I had the privilege of judging the manuscript and being one of the eight (!) opponents.

It is in fact the second dissertation on the language within a year – accidentally one hundred years after the three islands St John, St. Croix and St. Thomas were sold by Denmark to the USA. Robbert van Sluijs defended his thesis of the development of tense, mood and aspect in the language in May 2017.

Why would a Danish colony foster …

Creoles, fieldwork and linguistic theory – an interview with Peter Bakker

PB fieldworker e1523530360699

Photo: Peter Bakker with a speaker of Yamomami in Brazil

Peter Bakker is a Dutch-born linguist who is active in a number of different linguistic fields, chief among which pidgins and creoles, mixed languages and contact-induced language change. He has also published extensively on Romani linguistics. He is the author/editor of numerous books, which include A Language of Our Own: The Genesis of Michif, the Mixed Cree-French Language of the Canadian Métis (1992), Bibliography of Modern Romani Linguistics (1997, with Yaron Matras), The Typology and Dialectology of Romani (1997, co-edited with Yaron Matras and Hristo Kyuchukov), and Contact Languages: A Comprehensive Guide (2013, co-edited with Yaron Matras; paperback 2016). Some of his other interests include genderlects, language genesis and the …

A creole book and a dedication to a creolist: Philip Baker

Philip Baker March 2017 Giessentafel

Not long before Christmas, I received a parcel from Germany, presumably a book, and when I opened the parcel and it was indeed a book. Attached to the book was a small card with the following text:

Philip Baker, 26 July 1940 – 19 August 2017

This volume was published in February 2017, Philip Baker received it in March and had the satisfaction to see that all the data he compiled in London in the 1980ies – the famous “dossier bleu” – are now available in print (see p. VIII).

We mourn for our dear friend Philip and present this book to you to honour his memory.

Annegret and Willem Bollée

It was inserted in this book:

bollee