Next: Objections to Polygenesis
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Problems with these hypotheses:
- All French Creoles are mutually intelligible, no matter where they are
found (Caribbean, AFrica, Indian Ocean)
- All early reports indicated the masters learned from the subalterns, not
- All Creoles are typologically similar, so could be based on lots of
different kinds of baby-talk.
- Similarities were originally explained as due to the African
origin of the first subalterns, such that the universally-seen features were
supposedly to be found in the African donor languages.
- But these similarities surface in areas even where no African influence
can be imputed: Pitcairnese, Chinook Jargon, Nagamese, Bazaar Hindi, etc.
Strong Proponents of Polygenesis:
R. Hall explains two mechanisms:
- Spontaneous Generation of Pidgin (eventually becomes CReole?)
- Diffusion from old to new situation.
How to explain similarities where no genetic link is known?
- Elimination of inflection, gender, PNG
- identity of adjectives and adverbs
- iteration (reduplication) for intensification of adv/adj `big-big'
- development of aspect instead of tense
- development of compound prepositions using Portuguese ``na" and ``de"
Strong defense of
- Navarro Tomas (1951) argued that
Papiamento was not a blend of port/Spanish/African elements but originated
in Portuguese pidgin used in slave trade. Key importance of Portuguese in
slave trade, and even in origin of Afrikaans? (Hesseling 1923).
- Whinnon (1956) showed that 4 diff. creoles in Philippines didn't have
diverse origins but came from common source in Moluccas which originated in
Portuguese pidgin. Similar to Goan Portuguese-Creole in India, Sri Lanka, etc.
- 16th C. Portuguese pidgin replaced Arabic and Malay as trade
languages in Far East, was used from India to Indonesia to Japan. Asian
Spanish Crs. were relexified (Spanish replaced Portuguese). Case
can be made that Chinese Pidgin E. was relexified from pidgin Portuguese
Thus almost all Pidgin(s)/Creole(s) can be shown to have some Portuguese
origin, which then goes back to Sabir.
- In any event, it is easier to posit divergence and
relexification of all Pidgin(s)/Creole(s) than to posit
convergence toward structural similarity.
Bickerton posits the notion that some
former Creoles are beginning to merge with the standard language they received
their vocabulary from, in the post-colonial situation. Thus Jamaican Creole
has clearly merged with Standard Jamaican English---there is a continuum
of styles or levels from
or the lowest
form. Usu. spoken by least
educated rural males; on plantations, ``field" hands.
Mesolects or higher prestigious
forms than the Basilect; on
plantations, spoken by house servants/slaves.
Acrolect, which is the
prestige form and may even be
classified as a regional or social dialect of the donor language (e.g.
English). Influences and is influenced by regional (e.g. southern) SAE.
Thus American Black English, seen as having a Creole origin similar
to Gullah or Jamaican Crl., is now supposedly a Post-Creole continuum, merging
at the acrolect level with `Standard' American English. In most Creole
situations, speakers control a number of levels and can shift up or down;
noone controls all levels. White (or Standard) speakers are never
confronted with basilect forms, only the ``highest" forms are shown to them.
How to deal with the variability of BEV (or
Jamaican Creole, or Haitian Creole) in schools? Previously teachers
considered it substandard, corrupt, an evidence of linguistic and mental
deficit. More enlightened attempts try to build on it, valorize it,
emphasize that the diglossia is natural but that BEV is not marketable; teach
SAE (Standard French in Haiti, etc.) as a second dialect? Begin literacy in
BEV, switch to SAE? BEV is clearly a strong marker of ethnic identity,
especially among teenage males. BEV forms seem to increase during
adolescence (machismo? Covert prestige?) which is counterproductive to the
last modified 10/30/00