Portuguese-based creole languages
Portuguese overseas exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries led to the establishment of a Portuguese Empire with trading posts, forts and colonies in the Americas, Asia and Africa. Contact between the Portuguese language and native languages gave rise to many Portuguese-based pidgins, used as linguas francas throughout the Portuguese sphere of influence. In time, many of these pidgins were nativized becoming new stable creole languages.
As is the rule in most creoles, the lexicon of these languages can be traced to the parent languages, usually with predominance of Portuguese; while the grammar is mostly original and unique to each creole with little resemblance to the syntax of Portuguese or of other parent languages.
These creoles are (or were) spoken mostly by communities of descendants of Portuguese, natives, and sometimes other peoples from the Portuguese colonial empire.
Until recently creoles were considered "degenerate" languages unworthy of attention. As a consequence, there is little documentation on the details of their formation. Since the 20th century, increased study of creoles by linguists led to several theories being advanced. According to the monogenetic theory of pidgins, most of the pidgins and creoles the world derived from European languages actually descend from a single pidgin, the Mediterranean Lingua Franca, which was relexified by the Portuguese explorers and used by them throughout the empire. This theory was advanced to explain supposed similarities between all European-based creoles; such as the preposition na, meaning "in" and/or "on", which would come from the Portuguese contraction na meaning "in the" (feminine singular). However, the language bioprogram theory claimed that creole grammars are created by children from pidgins that have no grammatical structure; so the supposed similarities between creoles are a consequence of the unity of human innate linguistic abilities. However, some linguists have dismissed those similarities as being due to residual influences of the parent languages.
The Portuguese word for "creole" is crioulo, which derives from the verb criar ("to raise", "to bring up") and a suffix -oulo of debated origin. Originally the word (like its Spanish equivalent criollo) was used to distinguish the members of any ethnic group who were born and raised in the colonies from those who were born in their homeland. So in Africa it was often applied to locally born people of (wholly or partly) Portuguese descent, as opposed to those born in Portugal; whereas in Brazil it was also used to distinguish locally born black people of African descent from those who had been brought from Africa as slaves.
In time, however, this generic sense was lost, and the word crioulo or its derivatives (like "Creole" and its equivalents in other languages) became the name of several specific communities and their languages, such as the Guinea-Bissauan people (and their language) and the Cape Verdean people (and their language). In Brazil, on the other hand, crioulo became a term for "black".
The oldest Portuguese-based creole are the so-called Crioulos of Upper Guinea, born around the Portuguese settlements along the northwest coast of Africa. Originally spoken on a wider area, they are presently reduced to the following branches:
- Guinea-Bissau Creole (Kriol): lingua franca of Guinea-Bissau, also spoken in Casamance, Senegal and in Gambia.
- Cape Verdean Creole (Kriolu, Kriol): a dialect continuum spoken on the islands of Cape Verde, with some decreolization.
- Angolar (Ngola, N'góla): in coastal areas of São Tomé Island.
- Annobonese (Fá d'Ambô): in Annobón Island.
- Forro: in São Tomé.
- Principense (Lunguyê) (almost extinct): in Príncipe Island.
Portuguese has contributed to many languages of the Americas, although its similarity with Spanish makes it difficult to separate the influence of the two languages. An Afro-Portuguese pidgin or creole is posited to be ancestral to both the Portuguese and Spanish creoles of the Caribbean, with characteristically Portuguese features such as ele being retained despite later Spanish influence.1 Most surviving creoles contain also influences from Dutch, English, French, and various African languages. They are:
- Papiamento: spoken in Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao; Portuguese/Spanish (60%), Dutch (25%), African languages and Arawak (15%).
- Saramaccan: spoken in Suriname; English, Portuguese, African languages (20%).
Although sometimes classified as a creole, the Cupópia language from the Quilombo do Cafundó, at Salto de Pirapora, São Paulo,2 is better classified as a Portuguese variety since it is structurally similar to Portuguese, in spite of having a large number of Bantu words in its lexicon.
Portuguese-based creoles existed in Brazil. There is a Portuguese dialect in Helvécia, South of Bahia that presents signs of an earlier decreolization. Ancient Portuguese creoles originating from Africa are still preserved in the ritual songs of the Afro-Brazilian animist religions (Candomblé)citation needed.
It has been conjectured that vernacular of Brazil (not the official and standard Brazilian Portuguese) resulted from decreolization of a creole based on Portuguese and native languages; but this is not a widely accepted view. Vernacular Brazilian Portuguese is continuous with European Portuguese, and in fact quite conservative in some aspects.3 Academic specialists affirm the Brazilian linguistic phenomena are the "nativização", nativization/nativism of a most radically romanic form. The phenomena in Brazilian Portuguese are Classic Latin and Old Portuguese heritage. Not a creole form, but the radical romanic form.4 Regardless of borrowings and changes, it must be kept in mind that Brazilian Portuguese is not a Portuguese creole, since both grammar and vocabulary remain real Portuguese.
There are two French-based Caribbean creole languages spoken in Brazil, in the state of Amapá, Lanc-Patuá and Karipúna Creole, which were transplanted to the region in the 20th century. They are poorly known, but the Portuguese influence on them is small (chiefly in the vocabulary).
There is no consensus regarding the position Saramaccan, with some scholars classifying it as an English Creole with Portuguese words, and others classifyng it as a Portuguese Creole with an English relexification.
The numerous Portuguese outposts in India and Sri Lanka gave rise to many Portuguese-based creole languages, of which only a few have survived to the present. The largest group were the Norteiro languages, spoken by the Norteiro people, the Christian Indo-Portuguese in the North Konkan. Those communities were centered around Baçaim, modern Vasai, which was then called the “Northern Court of Portuguese India” (in opposition to the "Southern Court" at Goa). The creole languages spoken in Baçaim, Salsete, Thana, Chevai, Mahim, Tecelaria, Dadar, Parel, Cavel, Bandora (modern Bandra), Gorai, Morol, Andheri, Versova, Malvan, Manori, Mazagão, and Chaul are now extinct. The only surviving Norteiro creoles are:
- Diu Indo-Portuguese (almost extinct): in Diu.
- Daman Indo-Portuguese (Língua da Casa): in Daman.
- Kristi: in Korlai, Maharashtra.
These surviving Norteiro creoles have suffered drastic changes in the last decades. Standard Portuguese re-influenced the creole of Daman in the mid-20th century.
The Creoles of the Coast of Coromandel, such as of Meliapor, Madras, Tuticorin, Cuddalore, Karikal, Pondicheri, Tranquebar, Manapar, and Negapatam, were already extinct by the 19th century. Their speakers (mostly the people of mixed Portuguese-Indian ancestry, known locally as Topasses) switched to English after the British takeover.
Most of the creoles of the coast of Malabar, namely those of Cananor, Tellicherry, Mahé, Cochin (modern Kerala), and Quilon) had become extinct by the 19th century. In Cananor and Tellicherry, some elderly people still spoke some creole in the 1980s. The only creole that is still spoken (by a few Christian families only) is
Christians, even in Calcutta, used Portuguese until 1811. A Portuguese Creole was still spoken in the early 20th century. Portuguese creoles were spoken in Bengal, such as at Balasore, Pipli, Chandernagore, Chittagong, Midnapore and Hugli.
- Sri Lanka Indo-Portuguese: around Batticaloa and Trincomalee (Portuguese Burghers) and Puttalam (Kaffirs).
The earliest Portuguese creole in the region probably arose in the 16th century in Malacca, Malaysia, as well as in the Moluccas. After the takeover of those places by the Dutch in the 17th century, many creole-speaking slaves were taken to other places in Indonesia and South Africa, leading to several creoles that survived until recent times:
- Kristang (Cristão): in Malacca (Malaysia) and Singapore.
- Mardijker (extinct in 19th century): by the Mardijker people of Batavia (Jakarta) = Papiá Tugu (extinct in 1978): in Tugu, Indonesia.
- Portugis (extinct around 1950): in the Ambon, Ternate islands and Minahasa, Indonesia
- Bidau Portuguese (extinct in the 1960s): in the Bidau area of Dili, East Timor.
The Malacca creole also had an influence on the creole of Macau (see below).
The Portuguese language was present in its colony, Macau, since the mid-16th century. A Portuguese creole, Patua, developed there, first by interaction with the local Cantonese people, and later modified by influx of refugees from the Dutch takeover of Portuguese colonies in Indonesia.
|Angolar||São Tomé Island, São Tomé and Príncipe|
|Annobonese||Fá d'Ambô||Annobón island, Equatorial Guinea|
|Cupópia||Brazil||Not a Creole,
but rather Portuguese language with Bantu words
|Cape Verdean Creole||Kriolu, Kriol||Cape Verde||National language. A degree of Decreolization occurred.|
|Daman Indo-Portuguese||Língua da Casa||Daman, India||Decreolization process occurred.|
|Diu Indo-Portuguese||Língua dos velhos||Diu, India|
|Forro5||São Tomé Island, São Tomé and Príncipe|
|Guinea-Bissau Creole||Kriol||Guinea-Bissau||Lingua franca and regional language of Guinea-Bissau;
also spoken in Casamance, Senegal
|Kristang||Malaysia Singapore Perth|
|Macanese||Patuá||Macau and Hong Kong||Decreolization process occurred.|
|Papiamento6||Netherlands Antilles and Aruba||Spanish influenced.|
|Pequeno Português||Angola||Not a Creole, but rather a Pidgin|
|Principense||Lunguyê||Príncipe Island, São Tomé and Príncipe||Almost extinct. Most of the population now speak (standard) Portuguese.|
|Saramaccan||Surinam||English Creole with strong influences of Portuguese lexicon.|
|Sri Lanka Indo-Portuguese||Sri Lankan Creole Portuguese, Battilocan Portuguese||Coastal cities of Sri Lanka||Portuguese based creole with influences from Tamil, Sinhalese, English and Dutch.|
- Armin Schwegler, "Monogenesis Revisited", in Rickford & Romaine, 1999, Creole Genesis, Attitudes and Discourse, p. 252
- Em Cafundó, esforço para salvar identidade. São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga, SP: O Estado de São Paulo, 2006 December 24th, p. A8.
- Forro was a declaration of freedom of a specific slave used in Portugal and its colonies. These were the most wished documents for the enslaved population.
- For a discussion about the origins of Papiamentu, see "Papiamentu facts", an essay by Attila Narin.
- The Origins of Negation in the Gulf of Guinea Creoles
- Reconstructing Kriol syllable structures
- The Portuguese language heritage in the East
- The Portuguese Cultural Imprint on Sri Lanka
- Papia, Relijang e Tradisang, The Portuguese Eurasians in Malaysia
- Malacca Portuguese Eurasian Association
- Malacca Portuguese Settlement
- Singapore Eurasian Association Kristang page
- Declaraçon di mundo intêro di Dréto di tudo homi co tudo mudjer Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Kriolu of Santiago
- Declaraçom Universal di Diritu di Omis Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Kriol
- Declaraçón Universal di Dirêtu di Hómé Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Forro
- Dutch Portuguese Colonial History Dutch Portuguese Colonial History
- Association for Portuguese and Spanish Lexically Based Creoles (ACBLPE)
- Associação Brasileira de Estudos Crioulos e Similares (ABECS)