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ven. 12/10/2018 Séminaire DTT - Conférence
How special are creole grammars? Typological comparisons with lexifiers, substrates and the languages of the world.
Peter Bakker (University of Arhus, Denmark)
ISH - salle Bollier

Creole languages are known mostly from the Circum-Caribbean area, West Africa, East Africa, the Indian Ocean, India, the Pacific and Northern Australia, with Arabic, Dutch, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish as well as Amerindian, Indian and African lexifiers.
Thirty years ago, Pieter Muysken published an article with the title “Are creoles a special type of language?”, and he concluded they were not, at least from the viewpoint of UG.
In the meantime, however, evidence has been amassed that creoles, despite their structural diversity, occupy a very small typological space among the languages of the world, very close to each other, and distinct from both their lexifiers and from samples of the languages of the world. See e.g. Szmrecsanyi & Kortmann (2009) and Schneider (2012) for English-lexifier creoles, Parkvall (2008) from the viewpoint of complexity, and Bakker et al. (2011), Daval-Markussen (2013) and Bakker et al (2017) for creole typology.
Sources for creole structures could in principle come from the lexifiers/superstrates (e.g. French in the case of Haitian Creole), from substrate languages (e.g. Kikongo or Fon) which were spoken by African populations in the New World, from universals, or from shared patterns of grammaticalization/innovation. The influence of superstrates and substrates appear much less.
In my talk I will present some recent results of the research in this area, both from Aarhus and elsewhere, that leave the conclusion of the special place of creoles within the typology of the world’s languages inescapable.

Bakker, P., Daval-Markussen, A., Parkvall, M. & Plag. I. 2011. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 26(1): 5–42.

Daval-Markussen, A. 2013. First steps towards a typological profile of creoles. Acta Linguistica Hafniensia. 45(2): 274–295. doi: 10.1080/03740463.2014.880606

Muysken, Pieter. 1988. Are creoles a special type of language? In Frederick J. Newmeyer (ed.), Linguistics: The Cambridge Survey, Volume II: Linguistic Theory: Extensions and Implications, 285-301. Cambridge: University Press.

Parkvall, M. 2008. The simplicity of creoles in a cross-linguistic perspective. In Language Complexity. Typology, Contact, Change, ed. by M. Miestamo, K. Sinnemäki & F. Karlsson, 265–285. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/slcs.94.17par

Schneider, Agnes. 2012. Typological Profile: Pidgins and Creoles. In Bernd Kortmann & Kerstin Lunkenheimer (eds.), The Mouton World Atlas of Variation in English. 874-904. Berlin/Boston: Mouton De Gruyter.

Szmrecsanyi, B. & Kortmann, B. 2009. The morphosyntax of varieties of English worldwide: A quantitative perspective. Lingua 119: 1643–1663. doi: 10.1016/j.lingua.2007.09.016



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