Seychelles: German professor dedicated to the study of Seychellois Creole dies at the age of 84
A German national in Seychelles is remembered as an ardent defender and promoter of the development of the Creole language.
Annegret Bollée died last weekend in her homeland at the age of 84. The professor – a linguist – is described as a pioneer in the research of Seychellois Creole.
Anna, as her friends affectionately called her, first arrived in the islands in 1973. She edited the very first Creole language dictionary in 1982.
The entries in this dictionary formed the basis of the current lexical database maintained by the Creole Institute for all of its linguistic tool development projects, including an ongoing monolingual dictionary and a Creole spell checker.
The Creolist, as she called herself, has also produced several folk tales and stories from the Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.
Penda Choppy, a close collaborator of the late linguist for more than 20 years, is the former director of the Creole Institute and the current director of the Institute for Research on Creole Language and Culture at the University of Seychelles.
She told SNA last Thursday that “Bollée’s greatest achievement has been to initiate scientific research into the language”.
Choppy explained that she first met Anna in 1999, during one of the latter’s annual visits to the island nation. It was when Choppy was planning to organize a first conference on the Creole language. In October, the colloquium came to fruition and Anna was among the participants.
She says: “One of my fondest memories is that she stood with me on the steps of the Creole Institute building, greeting the participants in the conference after the closing ceremony. She was waving her handkerchief, kind of like a movie star in an old movie, I thought. “
Choppy added that once Bollée made a commitment to Seychelles as a field of study, she only had the best interests of the country and its people at heart. “In Seychelles, Anna worked with people and not on them, and she even did it from a distance. In doing so, she left a legacy.”
According to Choppy, “This work, along with many others that she has published with other researchers, is the cornerstone of reference for anyone working on Seychellois Creole, especially in the area of language and linguistics. In addition to this, Anna has produced many other documents which trace the history of language development in Seychelles. “
“Anna did not retain a monopoly on Creole studies in Seychelles, but instead engaged other researchers, mostly her former students, in different types of research projects,” Choppy said.
In a joint press release last Thursday, the University of Seychelles and the Seychelles Creole Institute said Bollée’s passing “has left a great void in the Creole studies community, and a legacy of love, of hope and belief in the Creole language as an emerging language that represents progress, diversity, resilience and human interaction. “