In and out of Suriname: Language, mobility and identity

Type Book
Title In and out of Suriname: Language, mobility and identity
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Publisher Brill
The population of the Guiana plateau is characterised by multilingualism and
the Republic of Suriname is no exception to this. Apart from the country’s
offfijicial language, Dutch, and the national lingua franca, Sranantongo, more
than twenty other languages belonging to several distinct language families
are spoken by less than half a million people. Some of these languages such
as Saamaka and Sarnámi have quite signifijicant speaker communities while
others like Mawayana currently have less than ten speakers.1 While many of
the languages currently spoken in Suriname have been part of the Surinamese
linguistic landscape for a long time, others came to Suriname as part of more
recent patterns of mobility. Languages with a long history in Suriname are the
Amerindian languages Lokono (Arawak), Kari’na, Trio, and Wayana, the creole
languages Saamaka, Ndyuka, Matawai, Pamaka, Kwinti, and Sranantongo,
and the Asian-Surinamese languages Sarnámi, Javanese, and Hakka Chinese.
In recent years, languages spoken in other countries in the region such as
Brazilian Portuguese, Guyanese English, Guyanese Creole, Spanish, French,
Haitian Creole (see Laëthier this volume) and from further afijield such as
varieties of fijive Chinese dialect groups (Northern Chinese, Wu, Min, Yue, and
Kejia, see Tjon Sie Fat this volume) have been added to Suriname’s linguistic
landscape due to their speakers’ increasing involvement in Suriname.

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