The Garífuna Language
Day by day the World becomes more interconnected, we talk to people from other countries in languages that usually are not our native tongue, multi linguists now outnumber mono linguists and around 25% of the world's countries recognise two or languages as official (see Pearson). English has become the Lingua Franca of the world and native languages are starting to disappear. The fewer the number of speakers the quicker. One language that seems to have reversed the trend is the Garífuna language, indigenous to the Carribean coasts of Honduras, Guatemala and Belize. Unique in the sense that, unlike other native languages in the Carribean Area, it did not form a creole. In the following I will give a brief overview of the origins of the language, the structure, its current state and the reasons why it has been able to resist the phenomenon of language disappearance.
The origins of the Garífuna remain disputed. the most prevalent narrative is that of two African slave ships who sank in 1635 near the island of St. Vincent. The survivors who made it to the shore shared food and huts with the indigenous population of Arawak-Caribs. Due to the Arawakan-Carib syncretism with, Carib dominance, who invaded St. Vincent and exterminated all Arawak men, the descendants of the Africans were taught different languages. The boys were taught Carib and the girls Arawakan. This resulted in a mixed language communication among the african descendants. Unlike other former slaves around the Carribean, they effectively rejected their african heritage altogether. These children progressively evolved into the Garífunas (Balutansky 38). Towards the end of the 18th century the British attempted to enslave the Garífuna, who rose up in a revolt, led by Chatoyer. The revolt was brought to a stop and Chatoyer executed. The remaining 2026 Garífunas were given the choice of slavery or deportation. The ones that chose deportation were eventually abandoned on...
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