Peter Green and the English of Tristan da Cunha

At the moment Bas van Elburg is doing research into the English of Pieter Groen (Peter Green), a Dutchman who spent most of his life on the island of Tristan da Cunha (Atlantic Ocean) in the 19th and early 20th centuries. With hardly any formal education Pieter Groen boarded ships at an early age to hunt seals until he was shipwrecked off the coast of Tristan da Cunha in 1836. He decided to stay on the island and lived in a small community of people who, by the time of his arrival, had already developed an English dialect consisting of features from several British input varieties. A number of letters written by Pieter Groen in his later life, however, show a variety that is close to standard British English. A possible explanation for this is that he was an autodidact. Bas van Elburg would like to know if other cases exist of self-taught persons who acquired second (standard) language learning in similar circumstances.

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