A language of Suriname


23,000 in Suriname (1995 SIL). 1,000 Matawari. Total users in all countries: 26,000.


Brokopondo district: Brownsweg, Centrum, Klasskreek, and Kwakoegron, communes, small border area; Para district: Bigi Poika commune; Paramaribo district; Sipaliwini district: Boven Saramaccan and Boven Suriname communes.

Language Status

5 (Developing).


Matawari (Matawai, Matoewari, Matuari). Possibly Portuguese [por] based rather than English [eng] (Hancock 1988). Linguistic influences from Koongo [kng] (Hancock 1988). Lexical similarity: 20% with African component.


Tonal, one tone per vowel.

Language Use

All domains. All ages. Also use Dutch [nld]. Used as L2 by Kwinti [kww].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: 15%–25%. Saramaccan is being used for religious instruction in Moravian schools along the Suriname River. Poetry. Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 1991–2009.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

A Bush Negro ethnic group with background similar to the Ndyuka. Traditional religion.

Also spoken in:

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