Papiamentu and the Brazilian connection established through the Sephardic Jews

Papiamentu and the Brazilian connection established through the Sephardic Jews

Marco Aurelio Schaumloeffel
Presentation at the 22nd Biennial Conference of the The Society for Caribbean Linguistics (SCL)
Heredia/Limón, Costa Rica 5th-12th August 2018
Conference Programme
Conference website

Abstract

Papiamentu and the Brazilian connection established through the Sephardic Jews

A direct historical connection between Curaçao and Brazil was established due to the resettlement of Sephardic Jews, their assistants, and their free and enslaved African servants from Dutch Brazil to the Caribbean after the Dutch were expelled by the Portuguese from the Northeast of Brazil. Portuguese-speaking Jews from Brazil began to arrive in Curaçao in 1659. This period coincides with the period between 1634 and 1677, considered crucial for the formation of Papiamentu (Jacobs, The Upper Guinea origins of Papiamentu Linguistic and historical evidence 353). Portuguese was one of the languages spoken by the Sephardi in Curaçao. From the beginning, the Jewish congregation in Curaçao even used Portuguese for their religious services; they only changed to Spanish in the nineteenth century (Holm, An Introduction to Pidgins and Creoles 78). The historical facts involving the dislocation of people from Pernambuco, Brazil to Curaçao naturally lead to the assumption of a possible influence of these Portuguese-speaking Sephardic Jews and their Afro-Brazilian servants in the formation of Papiamentu (PA). Although the current body of research in PA completely discards the hypothesis of a Brazilian origin of Papiamentu, as postulated in 1987 by Goodman (The Portuguese element in the American Creoles), the intention of this presentation is to show that there are effective links between these two areas and that there probably was some secondary degree of influence from Brazilian Portuguese during the formation process of PA. Even if they existed, it certainly would be difficult to prove that some of the PA features present in the deeper layers of the language could be specifically attributed to an influence from Brazilian Portuguese or the Portuguese spoken by the Sephardi, as it probably would be difficult to clearly set them apart from the features incorporated into PA that are also present in other Portuguese variants and in West African Portuguese-based creoles. However, specific lexical items that will be discussed in this presentation show that their transfer to PA may have happened because of the dislocation of Sephardic Jews and their servants from Brazil to Curaçao. Traces of at least one of those lexical items can also be found in French Guiana and in Suriname, the final destination for some of those expelled from Brazil or the temporary destination as place of passage for others that later headed to Curaçao. Some lexical items, including PA yaya ‘nanny, nursemaid’, bacoba ‘banana’ and fulabola ‘forefinger, index finger’, will be analysed to show that their presence in PA can probably be specifically attributed to the historical connection created between Brazil and Curaçao due to the forced migration of the Sephardic Jews and their servants.

The multifunctionality of Papiamentu pa and its similarities with Vernacular Brazilian Portuguese

The multifunctionality of Papiamentu pa and its similarities with Vernacular Brazilian Portuguese

Marco A. Schaumloeffel

Article published in the Journal of Portuguese and Spanish Lexically-based Creoles / Revista de Crioulos de Base Lexical Portuguesa e Espanhola 7 (2017), pp. 15-33. ISSN 1646-7000. Association of Portuguese- and Spanish-Lexified Creoles/Associação de Crioulos de Base Lexical Portuguesa e Espanhola (ACBLPE). Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa. Released in March 2018.

Link: http://www.acblpe.com/revista/volume-7-2017/the-multifunctionality-of-papiamentu-pa-and-its-similarities-with-vernacular-brazilian-portuguese

Here you can also download the pdf file.

Abstract

The Papiamentu (PA) element pa covers a broad array of functions, operating as a preposition, a mood marker and a complementiser. Lefebvre and Therrien (2007) compare the functions of PA pa to those of para in standard Portuguese (PT), noting that the 15 functions of pa they identify do not match up with the significantly fewer functions of PT para. In this study, it is argued that the functions claimed by Lefebvre and Therrien (2007) to be shared by PA pa and PT para are not without questions. Moreover, we offer a comparison between PA pa and pra in Vernacular Brazilian Portuguese (VBP), showing that these two elements share all 15 functions identified by Lefebvre and Therrien (2007). Finally, we offer an account as to why this sharp discrepancy exists between the results of the PA pa – PT para.

Keywords: Papiamentu, Vernacular Brazilian Portuguese, Multifunctionality of Papiamentu pa, Origins of Papiamentu

The multifunctionality of Papiamentu pa and its similarities with Brazilian Vernacular Portuguese

The multifunctionality of Papiamentu pa and its similarities with Brazilian Vernacular Portuguese

Marco Aurelio Schaumloeffel
Presentation at the ACBLPE (Association of Portuguese and Spanish-Lexified Creoles) Annual Meeting. Stockholms Universitet. Stockholm, Sweden. June 13-15, 2017
Conference programme
Conference website
Abstracts (pages 24-25)
References

Abstract

The multifunctionality of Papiamentu pa and its similarities with Brazilian Vernacular Portuguese

The Papiamentu (PA) lexical item pa can cover several functions, operating as preposition, mood marker and complementizer. Its functions actually clearly exceed those of its equivalent Portuguese lexical item para, not only covering the semantic load of para, but also that of por and a. An equivalent multifunctionality for this lexical item can also be found in other Portuguese-based creole languages like the Upper Guinea Portuguese Creoles (cf. Jacobs, Origins of a Creole) and the Asian Portuguese creole Papiá Kristang. When analysing the PA lexical item pa, Lefebvre and Therrien (On the properties of Papiamentu pa: Synchronic and diachronic perspectives, 2007) establish that it can perform fifteen different functions. Out of those, they only find five that have an equivalent realisation in current standard Portuguese. Lefebvre and Therrien believe that PA pa is derived from Portuguese para, and that its other properties would be derived from corresponding lexical entries in the PA substrate languages, more specifically from the properties of the Fongbe preposition and complementizer , and the mood marker and complementizer . However, when Brazilian Portuguese, and especially Brazilian Vernacular Portuguese (BVP) is considered, the degree of equivalence with the PA functions of pa changes dramatically. The aims of this presentation are to show the high degree of similarity that exists between PA and BVP when it comes to the functions of PA pa, and to make considerations as to why this sharp discrepancy exists if compared to the results found by Lefebvre and Therrien for current standard PT. Apart from that, the secondary aim is to ponder why this multifunctionality and equivalence in some functions can also be found in Papiá Kristang, a Portuguese-based creole from another branch that is knowingly not directly related to PA or to the West African Portuguese-based creoles.