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ISO 639 -2 ( B ) cpe (common language code) ( T ) cpe

Saramaccaans (proper name: Saamáka ; English Saramaccan ) is a Creole language spoken by the Saramaccans in Suriname .


The Saramaccaans originated from the pidgin or the early Creole language of the black slaves who fled into the jungle in a first wave . The first slaves are likely to have escaped immediately after the first plantations were established in 1651. A not inconsiderable number of these slaves, who fled in the first wave, were still born in Africa . The decisive phase in the formation of the Saramaccaan was from 1651 onwards. Immediately after the expulsion of the Dutch from Brazil in 1654, some Jews and their slaves from Brazil, which is now less liberal for Jews, emigrated to the more liberal Suriname. Since this happened in the earliest phase of the formation of the Creole languages ​​of Suriname, this explains the basic Portuguese element. German that the German - in 1778 an excellent dictionary Saramakkans appeared Moravian Christian Ludwig Schumann had (1749-1794), written. Like many Moravians, he saw Creole languages ​​as independent, full-fledged languages.

The first major, permanent settlement of Europeans took place under Lord Francis Willoughby of Parham in 1651, who brought a large number of African slaves from Barbados to the new settlement area on the Suriname (river) . There were already Jewish planters among the settlers. The first peace treaty between the Dutch and the Saramaccans was concluded in 1762, which granted the slaves the freedom and the right to trade, but obliged them not to accept any more refugees.


The vocabulary was originally based on a Portuguese pidgin or Creole language interspersed with many African elements, but which was heavily influenced by English . Over 20% of the vocabulary comes from African languages .

Examples from the basic vocabulary that prove the original Portuguese base are: mujee ( mulher ) "woman"; womi ( homem ) "man"; da ( dar ) "give"; bunu ( bono ) "good"; kaba ( acabar ) "terminate"; ku ( com ) "with"; tan ( tão ) "so very"; kuma (como) "like"; faka ( faca ) "knife"; aki ( aquí ) "here"; ma ( mas ) "but"; kendi ( quente ) "hot"; liba ( arriba ) "above"; lio ( rio ) "river" etc.

Anyone familiar with the Brazilian pronunciation of Portuguese will recognize the great similarities. Also noteworthy is njanjan for "to eat".

According to the system

The Saramaccaans is a tonal language and knows the two tones "high" and "low".

In addition to ia and u, the vowel series includes an open and a closed e and o sound, so that you get a series of seven vowels: i é è a ò ó u. Saramaccaans doesn't know any r-sound. The distinction between voiced and unvoiced is consistently carried out for all plosives. The Saramaccaans also knows the two typical West African phonemes kp and gb .

There are prenasalized sounds and nasal vowels , which are usually identified in writing by an n or m at the end of the syllable. The syllable structure is strict (consonant) - vowel - (vowel). Polysyllabic words beginning with o are regularly suggested by w.


The Saramaccaans is very different from the languages ​​from which it originated:

De waka te de aan sinkii möön.
"They went until they got tired."

U ta mindi kanda fu dee soni dee ta pasa ku u.
"We make songs about things that happen to us."

A suku di soni te wojo fëën ko bëë.
"He looked for it in vain."

Mi puu tu dusu kölu bai ën.
"I paid two thousand guilders for it."

Similar languages

Web link


  • S. Catherine Rountree: Languages ​​of the Guianas, Volume VIII, Saramaccan Grammar Sketch . Paramaribo, 1992