Cant a Sen Vargonya
Portuguese Creole Verse in Sri Lanka
This study analyzes the oral traditions of Sri Lanka Creole Portuguese as a syncretism of European, African, and Asian sources, evidenced in literary themes, linguistic practice, and cultural traditions. Resulting musical, dramatic, and textual practices play a central role in defining tradition and maintaining group identity in the creole communities. Both the co-existence and the interrelationship of oral texts establish traditions which contribute to a system of creole culture that spread throughout Asia. References are primarily to Sri Lankan and Indian materials collected by scholars in the late nineteenth century and during my field work in the 1970s and 1980s. Sri Lankan verses refer to the east coast Burghers of Bat-ticaloa and Trincomalee and to the Kaffirs of Puttalam. This study also presents for the first time a unique source for data and comparative analysis from the H. Nevill collection at the British Library, which is an extensive manuscript of Sri Lankan Creole texts from the 1870s or 1880s written in Dutch orthography and including material subsequently published by Schuchardt, Dalgado, and others. The theoretical focus concerns the translation of European, African, and Asian materials into a Eurasian discourse that displaces the originals, creating a new textual system of Portuguese Creole oral materials in Asia. The texts that give definition to creole culture have proved remarkably persistent, surviving in Sri Lanka from the seventeenth century to the present.
Published online: 01 January 1987
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