The following describes the general criteria which were used to assign a word to a particular Borrowed status. An effort was made to make sure that there was some consistency to the way these categories were employed, but there was necessarily also a degree of subjective assessment as well. The descriptions as to how each category was used will cover most words, but, of course, they all “leak” to some degree.
Generally, I classified a word as clearly borrowed if (i) it did not seem possible to propose a reasonable English etymology for the word and (ii) it was possible to propose a non-English etymology for the word which was a good match for the relevant Saramaccan word both formally and semantically. When a word did not meet these criteria but was still classified as clearly borrowed, a justification for this will generally have been given in the Comments on Borrowed field. The most common reason for such exceptions was when there was an imperfect, but still good, formal and semantic match of a Saramaccan word with a word of Afri-can origin, since available sources on the relevant African languages are limited and the lack of a better match could easily be due to gaps in documentation.
Generally, a word was classified as probably borrowed when there was a good proposal for a non-English etymology for the word, but there were (i) important open questions about either the quality of the proposed etymology on formal or semantic grounds or (ii) there was a competing English etymology which seemed unlikely but which I could not rule out entirely. In most cases, there should be a comment in the Comments on Borrowed field briefly explaining the nature of the problems resulting in this classification.
Some words given this classification, broadly speaking, were similar to words in the probably borrowed class except the nature of the relevant problems was more significant either because there was more than one distinct kind of notable problem (for example, issues with both the formal and semantic match for the proposed source word) or because one single problem raised particularly significant issues (for example, the semantic match may have been especially tenuous). Another class of words given this classification involved compounds (and other polymorphemic structures) composed of two elements from the same non-English source language (e.g., Gbe languages or Portuguese) where I had no evidence indicating whether the relevant complex structure was formed internally to Saramaccan or if it was borrowed as a unit. In most cases, there should be a comment in the Comments on Borrowed field briefly explaining the nature of the relevant problems.
Very little evidence for borrowing:
The majority of the words in this class are cases where there is no clear English or non-English etymology for the word. Since, the Saramaccan lexicon is assumed here to have branched off of the English lexicon, any word without a clear English etymology is a candidate as a loanword. However, the lack of an English etymology is weak evidence for borrowing, especially given that we can expect that Saramaccan would have formed some new words completely internally. For this class of words, there will be a comment in the Other Comments field explaining this briefly. Another class of words in this category were those that had a good English etymology but where another etymology (e.g., Dutch or Sranan) also seemed possible, but relatively unlikely. In most cases, there should be a comment in the Comments on Borrowed or Other Comments field briefly explaining this.
No evidence for borrowing:
As discussed in the Saramaccan chapter, for the purposes of this vocabulary, the Saramaccan lexicon is viewed as a highly divergent variant of the English lexicon. Accordingly, monomorphemic words with good English etymologies are considered to give no evidence for borrowing (except, of course, for words for relatively modern concepts). In addition, for the most part, morphologically analyzable words (including compounds) are generally considered to offer no evidence for borrowing unless there is specific evidence indicating they are not the result of word-formation processes within Saramaccan.
|1. clearly borrowed|
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|Salience:||Present in pre-contact environment|
Suriname Portuguese contact
Suriname Portuguese contact
This is the most unusual and contentious contact situation that Saramaccan has been a part of. There is a surprisingly large Portuguese component in the Saramaccan lexicon, which is much more extensive than the Portuguese component of the other Surinamese creoles. It is unclear whether Saramaccan acquired these words directly from Portuguese or from a Portuguese-based creole that was spoken in Suriname, which is why I have used the term Suriname Portuguese instead of simply Portuguese to describe the contact situation. Saramaccan’s contact with Suriname Portuguese must have been very early in its history as a distinct language, and the presence of Suriname Portuguese in Suriname is generally agreed to be tied, in some way, to the presence of Portuguese Jewish plantations in the colony. The Portuguese component of the Saramaccan lexicon is extensive enough that some have classified Saramaccan not as an English-based creole but, rather, as a mixed-lexifier English-Portuguese–based creole.
a word from Vocabulary Saramaccan
The ages were generally enumerated into descriptive categories of lexical strata to which specific years were assigned to at a later stage, with the year spans for different strata completely over-lapping in some cases. This provides a relatively coarse-grained view of the ages of the various lexical items in the database. Some words, undoubtedly, could be given more precise ages, but such work was not attempted here. Age spans were all rounded to fifty-year intervals so as not to give any mistaken impressions of precision for their beginning and end points.
This age stratum is used for most elements of Portuguese origin. These elements are believed to have entered Saramaccan after it split off from the other Surinamese creoles but only during a short span of time relatively early in Saramaccan history. It is conservatively assigned the time span 1650–1750, though it seems likely this period could be made more precise, perhaps, for example, 1675–1725.