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Post-Creole Continuum

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
  1. Basilect or the lowest prestige form. Usu. spoken by least educated rural males; on plantations, ``field" hands.
  2. Mesolects or more prestigious forms than the Basilect; on plantations, spoken by house servants/slaves.
  3. Acrolect, which is the highest 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.

Take a look at some examples of the Creole Continuum in this table.

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.

Harold Schiffman
Tue Mar 25 08:54:40 EST 1997