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Some theoretical possibilities:


  1. Monogenesis: All Pidgin(s)/Creole(s) are historically descended from European, probably Portuguese pidgins (Sabir). This ``explains" all the similarities: vocabulary was orig. Portuguese, got relexified in time with new vocab in other Pidgin(s)/Creole(s). ``Relexification" means vocabulary can be almost totally replaced with new vocab from another donor language, or perhaps relexified with later ``standard" loans from the same donor language.

  2. Polygenetic: There are separate processes of development, but the various different kinds are sort of ``dialects" of an overall system.
    1. Or: are there pidgin and creole ``dialects" of English, French, Portuguese, etc.?
    2. Or: are there structural similarities because of ``linguistic universals"?

  3. Universalist hypothesis: Doesn't matter whether the origins are monogenetic or polygenetic, the similarities result when the donor languages are ``stripped bare" and the languages are built up again according to the principles of ``linguistic universals".

One popular polygenetic theory: Baby Talk: the masters, merchants and plantations owners spoke baby talk to the slaves, who imitated this and spoke it back to the masters, who spoke it back to the slaves, etc.

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