Structure dataset 32: Cape Verdean Creole of São Vicente

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 32.

Cape Verdean Creole of São Vicente is spoken by 76,107 (2010) inhabitants of São Vicente island (Barlavento group), in the Atlantic Ocean (west of Senegal), and an unknown number of diaspora speakers (in Europe and the United States).

Although an official alphabet for Cape Verdean Creole exists, there is no standard orthography and the language is predominantly oral. Though its use in media, new technologies and formal situations (courts, banks, professional meetings) is increasing, the lexifier Portuguese, used as L2, continues to be the only official language and the language of formal schooling and writing. The level of literacy in São Vicente is 86.3% (2010) and nowadays roughly 60% of São Vicente youth complete secondary education (12 years).

The small size of the island (approximately 227 km2) and the fact that over 90% of its population live in the port-city of Mindelo contribute to the relative homogeneity of the lect. The São Vicente variety is spoken on a daily basis by all social classes, including resident foreigners, and the differences between the speech of the city dwellers and the speech of the inhabitant of a few interior oases and fishing villages are minor and affect mostly the lexicon. The default lect documented in APiCS is based on extensive field-work and participant observation and is intended to be representative of the entire speech community. Constructed examples are from Dirceu Rocha, a young urban native speaker of Cape Verdean Creole of São Vicente, who has a university degree and training in linguistics.

Glossed text (83.2KB, application/pdf)
No. Feature Value Details Source
No. Feature Value Details Source


Pulmonic Consonants
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
↓ Manner Bilabial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Alveolo-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal
/ Epiglottal
Nasal m n ɲ
Stop p b t d k g
Sibilant affricate t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
Non-sibilant affricate
Sibilant fricative s z ʃ ʒ
Non-sibilant fricative f v
Approximant l ʎ
Flap or tap
Lateral affricate
Lateral fricative
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back Close Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open ihigh front unrounded vowel nasalized high front unrounded vowel uhigh back rounded vowel nasalized high back rounded vowel ehigher mid front unrounded vowel nasalized higher mid front unrounded vowel ohigher mid back rounded vowel nasalized higher mid back rounded vowel əmid central unrounded vowel ə̃nasalized mid central unrounded vowel ɛlower mid front unrounded vowel ɛ̃nasalized lower mid front unrounded vowel ɔlower mid back rounded vowel ɔ̃nasalized lower mid back rounded vowel alow central unrounded vowel nasalized low central unrounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments


       Exists (as a major allophone)
       Exists only as a minor allophone
       Exists only in loanwords
No. Feature Value Details Source