Maio Creole - Dialects

Dialects

In spite of Cape Verde's small size, each island has developed its own way of speaking Creole. Each of these nine ways (there are 10 islands, one of which is uninhabited) is justifiably a different dialect, but the scholars in Cape Verde usually call them “variants”. These variants can be classified into two branches: in the South there are the Sotavento Creoles, which comprise the Brava, Fogo, Santiago and Maio variants; in the North there are the Barlavento Creoles, which comprise the Boa Vista, Sal, São Nicolau, São Vicente and Santo Antão variants.

Since some lexical forms of Cape Verdean Creole can be different according to each variant, the words and the sentences in this article will be presented in compromise model, a kind of “middle Creole”, in order to ease the understanding and in order not to favor any variant. Whenever it will be necessary the phonemic transcription (or sometimes the phonetic transcription) will be shown immediately after the word.

For the writing system, check the section Writing system.

From a linguistic point of view, the most important variants are the Fogo, Santiago, São Nicolau and Santo Antão ones, and any deep study of Creole should approach at least these four. They are the only islands that have received slaves directly from the African continent, that possess the most conservative linguistic features, and that are the most distinct from each other.

From a social point of view, the most important variants are the Santiago and São Vicente ones, and any light study of Creole should approach at least these two. They are the variants of the two bigger cities (Praia and Mindelo), the variants with the greatest number of speakers, and the variants with a glottophagist tendency over the neighboring ones.

These variants have significant literature:

  • Brava: Eugénio Tavares
  • Fogo: Elsie Clews Parsons
  • Santiago: Carlos Barbosa, Tomé Varela da Silva, Daniel Spínola
  • São Vicente: Sérgio Frusoni, Ovídio Martins
  • Santo Antão: Luís Romano Madeira de Melo
Dialectal differences
Sotavento Creoles Barlavento Creoles English
Fogo Santiago São Nicolau São Vicente Santo Antão
Ês frâ-m’.
Ês flâ-m’.
Ês fló-m’.
Ês dzê-m’.
Ês dzê-m’.
They told me.
Bú câ ê bunítu.
Bú câ ê bunítu.
Bô câ ê b’nít’.
Bô câ ê b’nít’.
Bô n’ ê b’nít’.
You are not beautiful.
M’ câ sabê.
M’ câ sâbi.
M’ câ sabê.
M’ câ sabê.
Mí n’ séb’.
I don’t know.
Cumó’ qu’ ê bú nômi?
’Módi qu’ ê bú nómi?
Qu’ manêra qu’ ê bô nôm’?
Qu’ manêra qu’ ê bô nôm’?
Qu’ menêra qu’ ê bô nôm’?
What is your name?
Bú podê djudâ-m’?
Bú pôdi djudâ-m’?
Bô podê j’dó-m’?
Bô podê j’dá-m’?
Bô podê j’dé-m’?
Can you help me?
Spiâ lí!
Spía li!
Spiâ li!
Spiá li!
Spiá li!
Look at here!
Ê’ cantâ.
Ê’ cánta.
Êl cantâ.
Êl cantá.
Êl cantá.
He/she sang.
Bú tâ cantâ.
Bú tâ cánta.
Bô tâ cantâ.
Bô tâ cantá.
Bô tâ cantá.
You sing.
M’ stâ cantâ.
M’ sâ tâ cánta.
M’ tâ tâ cantâ.
M’ tí tâ cantá.
M’ tí tâ cantá.
I am singing.
Screbê
Scrêbi
Screbê
Screvê
Screvê
To write
Gossím
Góssi
Grinhassím
Grinhassím
Grinhessím
Now
Pôrcu
Pôrcu
Pôrcu
Tchúc’
Tchúc’
Pig
Conxê
Cônxi
Conxê
Conxê
Conxê
To know
Dixâ
Dêxa
D’xâ
D’xá
D’xá
To leave
Dixâ-m’ quétu!
Dexâ-m’ quétu!
D’xó-m’ quêt’!
D’xá-m’ quêt’!
D’xé-m’ quêt’!
Leave me alone!
Dôci
Dóxi
Dôç’
Dôç’
Dôç’
Sweet
Papiâ
Pâpia
Papiâ
Falá
Falá
To speak
Cúrpa
lpa
Cúlpa
Cúlpa
Cúlpa
Fault
Nhôs amígu
Nhôs amígu
B’sôt’ amígu
B’sôt’ amíg’
B’sôt’ emíg’
Your (plural) friend
Scúru
Sucúru
Scúr’
Scúr’
Scúr’
Dark
Cárru
Cáru
Córr’
Córr’
Córr’
Car
Lébi
Lébi
Lêb’
Lêv’
Lêv’
Light (Weight)

Read more about this topic:  Maio Creole

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