Cape Malay Dutch: The missing link between cape dutch pidgin and Afrikaans?

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The 'Creolist turn' in Afrikaans historical linguistics is largely based on interpretations of a collection of sentences uttered by 17th/! 8th century slaves and Khoekhoen, as well as of 20th century Orange River Afrikaans data. A creolist scenario on the emergence of Afrikaans that has come to the fore is that by den Besten (1989, 2001a[2012]), who assumes that basilectal Cape Dutch varieties were largely based on what he calls Hottentot Hollands, i.e. a pidginized Dutch variety which seems to bear the marks of partial syntactic transfers from Khoekhoe languages. Khoekhoen being regarded as the founders of the Cape Dutch basilect, historians' attention has been focused on Orange River Afrikaans - i.e. that Afrikaans variety spoken by the descendants of the Khoekhoen - as a possible source of explanations for the crystallization of Afrikaans linguistic specificities. In the process, the role in the development of Afrikaans of other non-European populations at the Cape - namely the slaves and Free Blacks - has somewhat been neglected. The discovery of a corpus of Cape Malay Dutch literary texts dating back to the 19th century provides a source of information on non-European Cape Dutch varieties likely to refine the existing creolistic reconstructions of the emergence of Afrikaans. In this paper I present the Cape Malay Dutch variety against its general sociolinguistic background, emphasizing its directly recognizable Asian features and its un-Dutch features of indeterminate origin. On the basis of a comparison between the Cape Malay Dutch data and both historical Cape Dutch and synchronic Afrikaans data I argue that Cape Malay Dutch descends from a non-European Cape Dutch variety that is to be distinguished from Hottentot Hollands, as a result of which it presents specificities - including one possible creole feature - which are not present in Orange River Afrikaans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-786
Number of pages24
JournalRevue Belge de Philologie et de Histoire
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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