Hindustani Masala: Language contact in Overseas Indic


Nickerie (Suriname)

The languages of the communities of Indian origin in the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific are ideal candidates for the study of language contact. Yet, these languages have remained largely unexplored.

I investigate and compare the effects of language contact on specific areas of the grammar of the languages spoken by the Indian-descended diaspora in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean, and focus on SarnĂ¡mi (Suriname) and Mauritian Bhojpuri (Mauritius). The Overseas Indic languages present a great deal of structural and lexical similarity, yet their relative uniformity is matched by the high genetic and typological diversity of the other languages spoken in their respective territories. The contact scenarios are equally diverse and cover situations of language maintenance, shift and death. One hypothesis is that the structural effects of contact will vary according to the typological mix of languages in these two scenarios. The outcomes of language contact will also depend on prevailing patterns of multilingualism and therefore ultimately on social relations between the various ethnic and social groups.




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