The Angolar Creole Portuguese of São Tomé
Its Grammar and Sociolinguistic History
Gerardo A. Lorenzino
The primary goal of this study is to explore the question of the genesis and development of the Angolar Creole Portuguese of São Tomé and Príncipe (Gulf of Guinea), off the coast of West Africa. Angolar is the language spoken by descendants of maroon slaves who escaped from Portuguese plantations on São Tomé beginning in the mid-sixteenth century (1535-1550).
Due to the isolation of these maroon communities, their language kept the general structure of Santomense Creole Portuguese, the majority creole spoken on the plantations. Communication between the Portuguese and slaves, and among the slaves themselves, must have been constrained by factors such as first languages (Portuguese as well as Kwa and Bantu languages), exposure to some form of contact Portuguese prior to their arrival of São Tomé (e.g. West African Pidgin Portuguese), their length of stay on the island and their social status (free Afro-Portuguese, houseslaves). Modern divergences between Angolar and Santomense are the outcome of the lexical expansion and further restructuring which Santomense underwent as the result of its closer contact with Portuguese spoken on the plantations as opposed to differences in grammar and pronunciation which Angolar retained from early Santomense.
On the other hand, Angolar is the result of the partial relexification that Santomense underwent due to the later influence of Kimbundu-speaking Maroons. In this respect, the Angolares' existence away from the plantations was more likely to have favored the maintenance of African languages than remaining on the plantations, where exposure to Portuguese and the increasing role of Santomense as the medium of communication among slaves forced Africans to give up their native languages faster. Furthermore, the rise of the mulatto society fostered the establishment of Santomense as the common vernacular for both slaves and non-slaves. Against this setting, one may understand Angolar as the linguistic result of the Maroons' need to develop a communicative behavior which would act as an in-group boundary maintenance mechanism, providing a symbolic value for the Angular community and, at the same time, making their language incomprehensible to outsiders, i.e. a secret language.
The second chapter of the book gives an overview on the phonology, morphology and syntax of the Angolar Creole Portuguese.
ISBN 9783895865459. LINCOM Studies in Pidgin and Creole Linguistics 01. 290pp. 1998.