Jour : 29 janvier 2019

Projection du film « Creole Cultures in the Indian Ocean »

Vendredi 1er février de 12H45 à 14H15 en salle de conférences du Bât. D

Creole Cultures in the Indian Ocean’ (2018, 20 minutes), a film directed by Dr Shihan de Silva (School of Advanced Study) connects the Afro-diasporic community in the western Indian Ocean with the southern part of this giant waterway through shared histories and migratory patterns.

Suivi d’une conférence sur la situation actuelle du créole à base portugaise du Sri Lanka

Portuguese trade expansion overseas and encounter with the East led to the evolution of Portuguese-based contact languages in both hemispheres of the world. Due to lack of official status and political and socioeconomic pressures, Asian Portuguese Creoles resulting from the earliest encounters in the sixteenth century are becoming moribund.  Despite the Dutch and British who followed the Portuguese to Sri Lanka, creolised Portuguese continued to be spoken in the nineteenth century across the social spectrum.  During the twentieth century, English displaced Sri Lanka Portuguese as the new lingua franca.  The vitality and survival of Sri Lanka Portuguese on the margins, even after seventy years of independent rule, enable scholars to study this once important lingua franca.  Today, Creole is spoken mainly by communities who consider themselves Portuguese descendants located in the Eastern Province, (Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Amparai).  Intermarriages between the Portuguese and Sri Lankans led to generations of children who spoke creolised Portuguese as their mother-tongue. 

John Eaton, an advocate and member of the Legislative Council of Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was called by the British) who represented the Burghers (people of mixed ancestry – European and Sri Lankan), the most knowledgeable Sri Lankan correspondent of Hugo Schuchardt (father of Creole studies based at the University of Graz, Austria), refers to dialectal differences in Sri Lanka Portuguese.  This paper concerns Sri Lanka Portuguese from a lesser known speech community in the Northwestern Province – the Afro-Sri Lankans who live in a village called Sirambiyadiya in the Puttalam district.  

Although the Creole-speaking Burgher communities are ethnically diverse they share a language (Sri Lanka Portuguese) and a religion (Roman Catholicism) which resulted from the Portuguese encounter in the sixteenth century.  The political dynamics has threatened the survival and longevity of Creole, now an endangered language.  Its status has been undermined by post-independent struggles for national identity reflected in language and educational policies.  Mass education and socioeconomic development of the rural masses have brought the local languages (Sinhala, Tamil) to the fore.  The impact of multilingualism on the Afro-Sri Lankan community will be discussed.

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