A post by Peter Jordens.

Marc van Oostendorp reviews Jacques Arends’ Language and Slavery: A Social and Linguistic History of the Suriname Creoles (John Benjamins, expected June 2017) for Neerlandistiek, April 19, 2017. Here are translated excerpts.

[…] In this detailed, authoritative volume, Jacques Arends reveals himself as a master of nuance. He shows the infinitely complicated origins of the languages of Suriname ― beside Sranan, he focuses on Saramaccan, the most important Maroon language ― and how nuance can sometimes help solve puzzles. […]

One may read [Language and Slavery] as a detailed history of the plantation colony of Surinam from the end of the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. Using an overwhelming number of sources, Arends illustrates the complexity of social relations ― for example, that the slave stratum had its own social layers, which probably had a bearing on the Surinamese languages.

[…] It was not the author’s intention to present a comprehensive theory of how Sranan and Saramaccan originated, but he has certainly contributed a significant number of building blocks.

[…] Jacques Arends was not able to complete this book himself, because he died suddenly in August 2005. […] Crit Cremers undertook the admirable task of compiling this book from the [various more or less finished] manuscripts [that Arends left behind], with assistance from Adrienne Bruyn, Eithne Carlin, Saskia de Haan and Norval Smith.

All that effort has resulted in an impressive product, probably one of the most important linguistic publications in Dutch this year: an unprecedented history of a number of fascinating languages which once emerged under inclement circumstances on Dutch territory and which are still spoken there by hundreds of thousands of people.

Language and Slavery: A Social and Linguistic History of the Suriname Creoles

Jacques Arends (edited by Crit Cremers et al.)

Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co., expected June 2017

458 pages

For the complete, original book review (in Dutch), go to

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