Sranan Tongo (also Sranantongo "Surinamese tongue", Sranan, Surinaams,
Surinamese, Surinamese Creole, Taki Taki) is an English-based creole
language spoken as a lingua franca by approximately 500,000 people in
Because the language is shared between the Dutch-, Indigenous-,
Javanese-, Hindustani-, and Chinese-speaking communities, most
Surinamese speak it as a lingua franca among both the Surinamese in
Suriname, a former Dutch colony, and the immigrants of Surinamese
origin in the Netherlands, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
2 See also
4 Further reading
5 External links
Message written in
Sranan Tongo in the guestbook in the Land of
Hayracks, an open-air museum in
Slovenia (April 2016)
The Sranan words for 'to know' and 'small children' are sabi and pikin
Portuguese language saber and pequeno), which is due to the
Portuguese having been the first explorers of the West African coast,
where they developed a pidgin language from which a few words became
common in interactions with African by explorers who came afterward,
including the English. However, research has established that, as far
as its lexicon is concerned, Sranan is mostly an English-based creole
language, with a substantial overlay of words from Dutch, due to the
Dutch takeover of
Suriname in 1667.
Sranan Tongo's lexicon is thus a fusion of English, Dutch, Portuguese
and Central and West African languages. It began as a pidgin spoken
primarily by African slaves in
Suriname who often did not have a
common African language. Sranan also became the language of
communication between the slaves and the slave-owners, as the slaves
were not permitted to speak Dutch. As other ethnic
groups were brought to
Suriname as contract workers, Sranan became a
Although the formal Dutch-based educational system repressed its use,
Sranan became more accepted by the establishment over time, especially
during the 1980s when it was popularized by Suriname's then dictator
Dési Bouterse who often delivered national speeches in Sranan.
Sranan remains widely used in
Suriname and in large Dutch urban areas
populated by immigrants from Suriname, especially in casual
conversation where it is often mixed in freely with Dutch. Written
code-switching between Sranan and Dutch is also common in
computer-mediated communication. People often greet each other
using Sranan, saying for example "fa waka" (how are you) instead of
the more formal Dutch "hoe gaat het" (how are you).
Sranan as a written language has existed since the late 19th century,
and was given an official spelling by the government of
July 15, 1986 (resolution 4501). A small number of writers have used
Sranan in their work, most notably the poet Henri Frans de Ziel
("Trefossa"), who also wrote Suriname's national anthem (the second
verse is sung in Sranan Tongo).
Dutch-based creole languages
English-based creole languages
^ a b
Sranan Tongo at
Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
Sranan Tongo at
Ethnologue (14th ed., 2000).
^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds.
(2017). "Sranan Tongo".
Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck
Institute for the Science of Human History.
^ Radke, Henning (2017-09-01). "Die lexikalische Interaktion zwischen
Niederländisch und Sranantongo in surinamischer Onlinekommunikation".
Taal en Tongval. 69 (1): 113–136.
Iwan Desiré Menke: Een grammatica van het Surinaams (Sranantongo),
Munstergeleen : Menke, 1986, 1992 (Dutch book on grammar of
Jan Voorhoeve and Ursy M. Lichtveld: Creole Drum. An Anthology of
Creole Literature in Suriname. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975.
C.F.A. Bruijning and J. Voorhoeve (editors): Encyclopedie van
Suriname. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Elsevier, 1977, pp. 573–574.
Eithne B. Carlin and Jacques Arends (editors): Atlas of the Languages
of Suriname. Leiden:
KITLV Press, 2002.
Michaël Ietswaart and Vinije Haabo: Sranantongo. Surinaams voor
reizigers en thuisblijvers. Amsterdam: Mets & Schilt (several
editions since 1999)
J.C.M. Blanker and J. Dubbeldam: "Prisma Woordenboek Sranantongo".
Het Spectrum B.V., 2005, ISBN 90-274-1478-5,
www.prismawoordenboeken.nl - A Sranantongo to Dutch and Dutch to
Henri J.M. Stephen: Sranan odo : adyersitori - spreekwoorden en
gezegden uit Suriname. Amsterdam, Stephen, 2003,
ISBN 90-800960-7-5 (collection of proverbs and expressions)
Michiel van Kempen and Gerard Sonnemans: Een geschiedenis van de
Surinaamse literatuur. Breda : De Geus, 2003,
ISBN 90-445-0277-8 (Dutch history of Surinam literature)
Sranan Tongo edition of, the free encyclopedia
Sranan Tongo in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Sranan phrasebook.
SIL International “Sranan wortubuku, Sranan-Nederlands interaktief
woordenboek” (Sranan-Dutch interactive dictionary)
Sranan Tongo Swadesh list of basic vocabulary words (from Wiktionary's
Swadesh list appendix)
Webster's Sranan-English Online Dictionary
Conjugate Sranantongo verbs (Verbix)
Resources and more
Sranan Tongo Interactive Library": Sranan texts with a bilingual
How Transparent is Creole Morphology? A Study of Early Sranan Word
Formation (30 p., Braun & Plag, 2002) (PDF format)
Begin to learn
Words of Life: Sranang Tongo talk (audio) (YouTube)
“Mama Sranan” - Mother Suriname, a song in Sranantongo (with
subtitled translation) by Steven Akkrum & Da Originals (YouTube)
The New Testament in Sranan for iTunes
Languages of Suriname