Chapter published in:Advances in Contact Linguistics: In honour of Pieter Muysken
Edited by Norval Smith, Tonjes Veenstra and Enoch Oladé Aboh
[Contact Language Library 57] 2020
► pp. 284–337
Pottefers Cant, Groenstraat Bargoens, and the development of “have” and “be” in the wider context of contact
Our article falls into two parts. In the first part we compare two “secret” or replacive Dutch languages, Potteferstaal (Pot-repairers language) and Groenstraat Bargoens (Groenstraat cant), which developed in and around eastern Belgium and the southeastern fringe of the Netherlands, respectively. Nothing has been published on the first as yet (but now see Van Hauwermeiren (2018), while the second has been well-studied. Speakers of both cryptolects used similar strategies, the replacement of frequent lexical items by alternate ones with the purpose of inhibiting comprehension by outsiders. We also provide a general account of the social conditions surrounding the use of this type of replacive language. The social history of Groenstraat Bargoens is covered in some detail, while that of Potteferstaal is described as fully as possible, given our limited information. In the second part of our article we treat a striking structural difference shared by Potteferstaal and Groenstraat Bargoens and other similar replacive languages. This concerns the fact that various uses of “have” and “be” verbs, including “main verb”, auxiliary and copular usages are expressed by a single form. We add three other so-called “Bargoens” varieties from northern Belgium and Dutch Limburg to the study, brief information on the Kempen traders’ cant, as well as “Henese Fleck” spoken in Breyell just over the German border, and discuss their parallels and differences in connection with this feature. We relate this phenomenon to the retention of a small but persistent number of Romani lexical items by most of these languages. One group which exhibits the same identity of expression of “have” and “be” as well as formerly similar historical ways of life, is the Sinti Romani. We ascribe this shared structural pattern to early contact between Dutch and Belgian “travellers” and Romani, despite the fact that the languages of the first group are inflection-poor, whereas Romani languages are inflection-rich.
Keywords: secret language, cryptolect, language contact, borrowing, lexical replacement, combiverb, Judeo-German, Romani, Sinti, travellers, Bargoens, woonwagenbewoners
Published online: 29 October 2020
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