Boa Vista Creole - Status


In spite of Creole being the mother tongue of nearly all the population in Cape Verde, Portuguese is still the official language. As Portuguese is used in everyday life (at school, in administration, in official acts, in relations with foreign countries, etc.), Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole live in a state of diglossia. Due to this overall presence of Portuguese, a decreolization process occurs for all the different Cape Verdean Creole variants.

Check in this fictional text:

Santiago variant:
Quêl mudjêr cú quêm m’ encôntra ónti stába priocupáda púrqui êl sqêci dí sês minínus nâ scóla, í cándu êl bâi procurâ-’s êl câ olhâ-’s. Alguêm lembrâ-’l quí sês minínus sâ tâ pricisába dí material pâ úm pesquisa, entõ êl bâi encontrâ-’s nâ biblioteca tâ procúra úqui ês cría. Pâ gradêci â túdu quêm djudâ-’l, êl cumêça tâ fála, tâ flâ cômu êl stába contênti di fúndu di curaçãu.
São Vicente variant:
Quêl m’djêr c’ quêm m’ encontrá ônt’ táva priocupáda púrq’ êl sq’cê d’ sês m’nín’s nâ scóla, í cónd’ êl bái procurá-’s êl câ olhá-’s. Alguêm lembrá-’l qu’ sês m’nín’s táva tâ pr’cisá d’ material pâ úm pesquisa, entõ êl bâi encontrá-’s nâ biblioteca tâ procurá úq’ ês cría. Pâ gradecê â túd’ quêm j’dá-’l, êl c’meçá tâ fála, tâ dzê côm’ êl táva contênt’ d’ fúnd’ d’ curaçãu.
Translation to Portuguese:
Aquela mulher com quem eu encontrei-me ontem estava preocupada porque ela esqueceu-se das suas crianças na escola, e quando ela foi procurá-las ela não as viu. Alguém lembrou-lhe que as suas crianças estavam a precisar de material para uma pesquisa, então ela foi encontrá-las na biblioteca a procurar o que elas queriam. Para agradecer a todos os que ajudaram-na, ela começou a falar, dizendo como ela estava contente do fundo do coração.
Translation to English:
That woman with whom I met yesterday was worried because she forgot her children at school, and when she went to seek them she didn’t see them. Someone reminded her that her children were needing some material for a research, and so she found them at the library searching what they needed. To thank to everyone who helped her, she started speaking, telling how she was glad from the bottom of her heart.

In this text, several situations of decreolization / Portuguese intromission can be noted:

  • cú quêm / c’ quêm – Portuguese order of words com quem;
  • encôntra / encontrá – Portuguese lexicon, in Creole it would be more commonly átcha / otchá;
  • priocupáda – Portuguese lexicon, in Creole it would be more commonly fadigáda;
  • púrqui / púrq’ – Portuguese lexicon, in Creole it would be more commonly pamódi / pamód’;
  • sês minínus / sês m’nín’s – Portuguese influence (plural marker on both words);
  • procurâ-’s / procurá-’s – Portuguese lexicon, in Creole it would be more commonly spiâ-’s / spiá-’s;
  • olhâ-’s / olhá-’s – Portuguese phonetics (intromission of the phoneme /ʎ/);
  • quí / qu’ – Portuguese lexicon, the integrant conjunction in Creole is ’mâ;
  • sâ tâ pricisába / táva ta pr’cisá – Portuguese lexicon, in Creole it would be more commonly sâ tâ mestêba / táva tâ mestê;
  • material, pesquisa, biblioteca – words pretty uncommon in a basilect; if they are Portuguese words used when speaking Creole they should be pronounced in Portuguese and written in italic or between quotation marks;
  • úqui / úq’ – intromission of Portuguese o que;
  • gradêci â / gradecê â – wrong preposition, the Portuguese preposition “a” does not exist in Creole;
  • fála – this form (from contemporary Portuguese falar) is only used in São Vicente and Santo Antão, in the other islands the word is papiâ (from old Portuguese papear);
  • cômu / côm’ – intromission of Portuguese como;
  • curaçãu – Portuguese phonetics (reduction of the phoneme /o/ to /u/ and Portuguese pronunciation /ɐ̃w/ instead of Creole /õ/);

The same text “corrected”:

Santiago variant:
Quêl mudjêr quí m’ encôntra cú êl ónti stába fadigáda pamódi êl sqêci sês minínu nâ scóla, í cándu quí êl bâi spiâ-’s êl câ odjâ-’s. Alguêm lembrâ-’l ’ma sês minínu sâ tâ mestêba «material» pâ úm «pesquisa», entõ êl bâi atchâ-’s nâ «biblioteca» tâ spía cusê quí ês cría. Pâ gradêci pâ túdu quêm quí djudâ-’l, êl cumêça tâ pâpia, tâ flâ módi quí êl stába contênti di fúndu di coraçõ.
São Vicente variant:
Quêl m’djêr qu’ m’ encontrá má’ êl ônt’ táva fadigáda pamód’ êl sq’cê sês m’nín’ nâ scóla, í cónd’ êl bái spiá-’s êl câ oiá-’s. Alguêm lembrá-’l ’mâ sês m’nín’ táva tâ mestê «material» pâ úm «pesquisa», entõ êl bâi otchá-’s nâ «biblioteca» tâ spiá c’sê qu’ ês cría. Pâ gradecê pâ túd’ quêm qu’ j’dá-’l, êl c’meçá tâ fála, tâ dzê qu’ manêra qu’ êl táva contênt’ d’ fúnd’ d’ coraçõ.

As a consequence there is a continuum between basilectal and acrolectal varieties.

In spite of Creole not being officialized, there exists a governmental directive that puts forth the necessary conditions for the officialization of Creole. This officialization has not yet occurred, mostly because the language is not yet standardized, for several reasons:

  • There is significant dialectal fragmentation. Speakers are reluctant to speak a variant that is not their own.
  • Absence of rules to establish which is the right form (and also the right spelling) to be adopted for each word. For example for the word corresponding to the Portuguese word algibeira (“pocket”), A. Fernandes records the forms algibêra, agibêra, albigêra, aljubêra, alj’bêra, gilbêra, julbêra, lijbêra.
  • Absence of rules to establish which are the lexical limits to be adopted. It is frequent for speakers of Creole, when writing, to join different grammatical classes. For ex.: pâm... instead of pâ m’... “for me to...”.
  • Absence of rules to establish which are the grammatical structures to be adopted. It is not just about dialectal differences; even within a single variant there are fluctuations. For ex.: in the Santiago variant, when there are two sentences and one is subordinated to the other, there is a tense agreement in the verbs (bú cría pâ m’ dába “you wanted me to give” – both cría and dába are past tense), but some speakers do not practice it (bú cría pâ m’ dâ – past then present – or bú crê pâ m’ dába – present then past).
  • The writing system (ALUPEC) has not been well accepted by all Creole users.
  • The language levels (formal, informal, scientific, slang, etc.) are not well differentiated yet.

That is the reason why, each speaker when speaking (or writing) uses his/her own dialect, his/her own sociolect and his/her own idiolect.

To overcome these problems, some Creole advocates propose the development of two standards: a North (Barlavento) standard, centered on the São Vicente variant, and a South (Sotavento) standard, centered on that of Santiago. If so, Creole would become a pluricentric language

There exists no complete translation of the Bible. However, the “Asosiason Kabuverdianu pa Traduson di Bíblia” was established with the goal of translating the entire Bible in Kabuverdianu-Sotaventu and Kabuverdianu-Barlaventu (see They have translated approximately 40% of the New Testament in the Kabuverdianu-Sotaventu, and they have published Luke and Acts. The publication of Luke has won two awards in Cape Verde. Sérgio Frusoni translated Bartolomeo Rossetti's version of (Er Vangelo Seconno Noantri) in Rome dialect, which is a poem based on the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Frusoni translated the poem in the São Vicente Creole, titled: Vangêle contód d'nôs móda.

Read more about this topic:  Boa Vista Creole

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