Lang Belta: the Belter language from SYFY/Amazon’s The Expanse

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The Belter language, which in the TV show is referred to as Lang Belta, is a Creole language spoken by the Belter people in the The Expanse universe. A creole language can be characterized as a new language, based on the vocabulary of an existing language, but with an innovated grammatical system.

The Expanse takes place 200 years from now, in a future in which Earth has colonized the solar system. In this world, people emigrated to the Asteroid Belt from Earth looking for work, and now survive by scavenging materials in the Belt. In this contribution I will outline the construction and general characteristics of this very complex and interesting Creole and discuss some of its grammatical characteristics.

When Rihanna ‘mumbles’ in her native language

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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 …

African languages in the 1700s Danish West Indies

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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 …

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

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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 …

Describing ​NisseEngelsk​: A Brief Memoir

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A supplement to the Lingoblog-article The language of The Julekalender by Mickey Blake, the original writer of the background study for the article.

How the time flies! It seems almost impossible that it’s been over twelve years since I visited Carsten Knudsen at his home in Risskov to obtain a copy of the script from “The Julekalender” and ask him about the creation of “N​isseEngelsk​”. Little did I know that day how much work I was setting myself up for!

Peter Bakker had been hoping for years that some brave student with no clue as to what they were getting themselves into would write a description of the fictitious language, and he found his patsy – er, star

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

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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 …

Fieldwork in a maroon community in Brazil – an interview with Ana Paulla Braga Mattos

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[This blog post is part of a three-way interview between Kristoffer Friis Bøegh, Jeroen Willemsen and Ana Paulla Braga Mattos.]

Ana Paulla Braga Mattos is a PhD-researcher at Aarhus University. She conducted fieldwork on Kalunga, an Afro-Brazilian Portuguese variety spoken in the state of Goiás in Brazil. She has one publication about Kalunga coming out soon with the De Gruyter series on Colonial and Postcolonial Linguistics, and another paper comparing Kalunga and other language varieties from the Portuguese-speaking world submitted. She is currently writing about sentential negation in Kalunga Portuguese. We interviewed her in Aarhus about her experiences as a fieldworker.

Could you briefly summarise your descriptive project and the fieldwork you conducted?

I did fieldwork in the state …