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Today embedded structures such as relative clauses are found not only in the speech of Tok Pisin s native speakers often children of interethnic marriages growing up in a multi-ethnic urban setting but also in the speech of adults who are not native speakers Sankoff and Brown ; cf. Tok Pisin text in section 3. Such social conditions were often the result of slavery.

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For example, from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, Africans of diverse ethnolinguistic groups were brought by Europeans to colonies in the New World to work together on sugar plantations. For the 6. Normally the Africans had no language in common except what they could learn of the Europeans language, and access to this was usually very restricted because of the social conditions of slavery. The children born in the New World were usually exposed more to this pidgin and found it more useful than their parents native languages. Since the pidgin was a foreign language for the parents, they probably spoke it less fluently; moreover, they had a more limited vocabulary and were more restricted in their syntactic alternatives.

Furthermore, each speaker s mother tongue influenced his or her use of the pidgin in different ways, so there was probably massive linguistic variation while the new speech community was being established. Although it appears that the children were given highly variable and possibly chaotic and incomplete linguistic input, they were somehow able to organize it into the creole that was their native language, an ability which may be an innate characteristic of our species.

Holm_An Introduction to Pidgins and Creoles

This process of creolization or nativization in which a pidgin acquires native speakers is still not completely understood, but it is thought to be the opposite of pidginization: a process of expansion rather than reduction although a pidgin can be expanded without being nativized. For example, creoles have phonological rules e. Creole speakers need a vocabulary to cover all aspects of their life, not just one domain like trade; where words were missing, they were provided by various means, such as innovative combinations e. For many linguists, the most fascinating aspect of this expansion and elaboration was the reorganization of the grammar, ranging from the creation of a coherent verbal system to complex phrase-level structures such as embedding.

There are many questions about the process of creolization that remain unresolved. Is it qualitatively different from the expansion of a pidgin that does not acquire native speakers? How crucial is the uprooting of those who begin the new speech community? There are creoles whose speakers were never uprooted, such as the Portuguese-based varieties in Asia Holm 98 , although in a sense the Portuguese fathers of the first generations were indeed uprooted and their racially mixed progeny formed not only a new speech community but also a new ethnic group.

It has been proposed Gilman that the significant difference between creoles and extended pidgins is not nativization, since the designation of what is a first as opposed to a primary language is arbitrary and irrelevant in many multilingual contexts, but rather whether the language is one of ethnic reference.

However, this does not decide the issue of whether the differences between creoles and 7. Singler argues that The evidence from other West African pidgins and, especially, from Tok Pisin argues for the rejection of the centrality of nativization in the expansion of fledgling pidgins and the recognition of the fundamental commonality of creoles with extended pidgins. Both Sankoff s and my own findings indicate that, instead of radical restructuring, the trends already present in expanded Tok Pisin are carried further in its creolized varieties.

Some linguists distinguish between the creolization of an extended pidgin, which is both socially and linguistically gradual, and the creolization of an early pidgin or even an unstable jargon, called early creolization Bickerton in Bickerton et al. If Caribbean and other creoles did indeed grow out of nativized varieties of unstable pre-pidgin jargons, then the classical definition of a creole as any language with a pidgin in its ancestry is technically wrong.

The crucial element would seem to be a variety that has been radically reduced a jargon or a pidgin rather than one that has stabilized a pidgin but not a jargon.

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However, our knowledge of the earlier stages of particular creoles is usually quite sketchy and based on speculation rather than direct evidence. It may be prudent to reserve judgement on this issue.

There are other major issues regarding creolization that remain unresolved. To what extent did adult speakers of the pidgin or jargon help their creolespeaking children organize their speech? To what extent did these adults draw on their native languages to do this?


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What was the role of universal trends in the acquisition of a first or second language? These issues will be discussed in detail in chapter 2, and a number of them will be illustrated in chapter 3 in actual case studies.

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The following text Park is in Ndyuka, an English-based creole spoken in the interior of Suriname in northern South America see section 3. Abe wan bun I had gone hunting with a dog of mine. He was a good onti dagu. Da fa mi waka so, a tapu wan kapasi na a hunting dog. Then as I walked so, he cornered an armadillo in the.

Alon go so, a tyai wan he kon na a olo.

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He ran away so, he brought a capybara into the hole. Note that unlike the pidgin text in Tok Pisin, the above creole text has an embedded subordinate clause, fa mi waka so. Before leaving our discussion of the terms pidgin and creole, a word about their origin may be of interest. The etymology of pidgin is uncertain, and an entire article has been devoted to it Hancock a.

The Oxford English Dictionary derives it from the English word business as pronounced in Chinese Pidgin English, which was of course used for transacting business. The origin of the term creole is more certain. Latin creare to create became Portuguese criar to raise e. Crioulo, with a diminutive suffix, came to mean an African slave born in the New World in Brazilian usage. The word s meaning was then extended to include Europeans born in the New World. The word finally came to refer to the customs and speech of Africans and Europeans born in the New World. They are largely confined to or have a particular meaning in pidgin and creole linguistics sometimes shortened to creolistics; cf.

Terms having to do with theory e. In some areas where the speakers of a creole remain in contact with its lexical donor language e. This process of decreolization can result in a continuum of varieties from those farthest from the superstrate the basilect to those closest the acrolect , with mesolectal or intermediate varieties between them.

After a number of generations some varieties lose all but a few vestiges of their creole features those not found in the superstrate through decreolization, resulting in post-creole varieties such as according to some African American Vernacular English or Brazilian Vernacular Portuguese. However, others say that these particular varieties are rather the products of semi-creolization, which occurs when people with different first languages shift to a typologically distinct target language itself an amalgam of dialects in contact, including fully restructured varieties under social circumstances that partially restrict their access to the target language as normally used among native speakers.

The processes that produce a semicreole include dialect levelling see koineization below , preserving features that may be archaic or regional in the standard language; language drift, following internal tendencies within the source language, such as phonotactic, morphological or syntactic simplification; imperfect language shift by the entire population, perpetuating features from ancestral languages or interlanguages see below in the speech of monolingual descendants; and borrowing features from fully pidginized or creolized varieties of the target language spoken by newcomers, or found locally but confined to areas where sociolinguistic conditions were favourable to full restructuring; and in some cases secondary levelling, corresponding to the decreolization which full creoles can undergo.

These processes result in a new variety with a substantial amount of the source language s structure intact, including the inflections not found in basilectal creoles, but also with a significant number of the structural features of a creole, such as those inherited from its substrate or the interlanguages that led to its preceding pidgin Holm a, b, fc. The term creoloid has been used for so many different kinds of vaguely creole-like languages that its usefulness has become rather limited; here it will be used only to mean languages that superficially resemble creoles in some way e.

This may have been caused by the language shift of an entire speech community, such as the adoption of Old High German by Romance-speaking Jews, producing Yiddish, or the adoption of English by Puerto Ricans in New York, producing Nuyorican. These xenolects or slightly foreignized varieties spoken natively, akin to what Siegel calls Nor are interlanguages intermediate varieties of a target language spoken by foreign learners to be considered pidgins since they lack shared norms or stability or even jargons since they are targeted toward the native-speaker s variety and are not confined to a particular domain.

As mentioned above, contact of closely related languages can result in koineization, in which dialect levelling produces some morphological simplification but leaves intact many fairly complex grammatical features common to both language varieties. This is particularly true in new speech communities overseas, as in the case of the closely related languages of northern India that formed new varieties of Hindustani or Bhojpuri in Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname, Mauritius and Fiji, spoken by the descendants of contract labourers Siegel There is also a tendency toward simplification in isolated overseas enclave varieties such as Missouri French, particularly when they are used by a dwindling number of speakers who are bilingual in the surrounding language Maher However, language death or attrition can also take place in a language s original location if it gradually loses speakers to an encroaching language and is finally spoken only by bilinguals who lack native-speaker competence in the dying language.

Finally there are mixed languages that are none of the above, both in the trivial sense that practically all languages are mixed to some degree by contact with other languages and also in a miscellaneous category of very mixed languages whose genesis had to be quite different from that of pidgins or creoles. For example, there is the strange case of Mbugu or Ma a in Tanzania, a Cushitic language that acquired Bantu grammar, apparently under duress Goodman , Thomason a.

Then there is Anglo-Romani: basically English syntax, phonology and function words holding together Romani or Gypsy lexical items, used principally between English-speaking Gypsies in the presence of English-speaking non-gypsies in order to maintain secrecy Hancock It consists largely of perfectly formed Cree verb phrases and perfectly formed French noun phrases, e. Thomason hypothesizes that Michif was created by racially mixed bilinguals cf.

Such bilingual mixtures Thomason c are said to result from language intertwining Bakker and Muysken However, decisions as to what data are important enough to be included, even before any question of their interpretation, always imply a theoretical position. To be explicit, this book reflects the belief that while universal tendencies in adult second-language acquisition carried over into pidginization and creolization 2. Together with creole-internal innovations, borrowings from adstrate languages those which are neither superstrate nor substrate and the convergence of all or some of the above, these account for the features that distinguish creoles from their lexical source languages.

This moderate substratist position 2. These are the Atlantic creoles, a term first applied to the English-based creoles of the Caribbean area and coastal West Africa Hancock and later extended to include the other creoles in these areas, those whose lexicons are based on Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and French. The Atlantic creoles share many structural features on all linguistic levels that are not found in their European lexical source languages, as chapters 4 to 6 will demonstrate.

Many of these features can be attributed to the substratum of African languages that these creoles share.