Sarnámi Faq

What is Sarná

Sarná is a website dedicated to the Sarnámi language. The primary focus of the website is on promoting any written activity of the Sarnámi language.

What is Sarnámi?

Sarnámi means Surinamese. Sarnámi (Hindustani) is a variant of Caribbean Hindustani spoken by descendants of Indian Indentured Labourers that were brought to Suriname in the 19th century. It is one of the few non-moribund variants of the contact languages that formed on the plantations where indentured labourers worked (together with Fijian Hindi). There are no recent estimates of the number of Sarnámi speakers, but estimates range from 120.000 to 250.000 L1 or L2 speakers.

The language is primarily spoken by Sarnámi Hindustani communities in Suriname and the Netherlands.

Eh, Suriname?

Suriname is the smallest independent country in South America and holds the distinction of being the most densely forested country in the world. It has a population of 550.000+ inhabitants, comprising of several ethnic groups. Next to being a hotspot for biodiversity, it is a hotspot for languages with more than 15 (native) languages being spoken within the country.

Why Sarná

The section ‘Why Sarnámi’ elaborates on the reason for setting up this initiative. The main aim is to demonstrate, promote and discuss innovation in relation to the Sarnámi language. Though the language is currently widespread, its every day use is diminishing and little to no formal use is endorsed. For those who have a heart for the language, there is still time to create, produce and innovate. This site is a minor platform dedicated to these purposes.

Are you a foundation?

Sarná is not (yet) a foundation, it is an individual project. The site is maintained by two individuals, based outside of Suriname or the Netherlands.

I have got suggestions for translations or publications!

Excellent, please contact the site admin.

Are you a lone voice in the desert? Surely there must be other activities?

The Sarnámi language has a vibrant history of song and music. There is poetry and recently there have been several wonderful initiatives online that promote use of the language. One of this is Sarnámi Bol (non-affiliated). If you are interested in learning more (about) Sarnámi, this site is an excellent resource:

What’s next?

Sarná’s main project for 2021 is the publication of the Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) in Sarnámi. Please stay tuned for more information.

In addition, ideas relating to the language will be published on this site, including suggestions for a more legible orthography.

Also please note that the site contains other ideas or concepts to showcase that innovation could be possible in the Sarnámi language, these include: A translation of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights into Sarnámi, the translation of a short story written by American novelist Virginia Woolf and the creation of web app in Sarnámi, the Imlie Browser. We hope to add more of these concepts in the future.