LINC47H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Cou-Cou, Papiamento, Monogenetic Volcanic Field

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21 Jun 2016

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LINC47 Chapter 4: Lexicosemantics
In the early contact situation, the original pidgins and then the creoles that grew out of them had to use
vocabulary that came primarily from the lexical source languages in order to serve their 1st function as
bridges for communication.
In the Atlantic colonies the Europeans spoke the language of political, economic and social power and the
Africans, who had no such power in their state of slavery, had to do most of the linguistic accommodating.
The influence of European languages was further reinforced during the centuries where most of the
creoles were used in colonies whose official language of administration was the same as their lexical
-therefore, the creoles retained relatively few words (usually less than 10% of the lexicon) that were not
from the lexical source language and therefore there are very few words shared by the Atlantic creoles
based on Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French and English which might form the basis of a comparison.
While vocabularies differ from one lexical group to another in form, they do share certain traits in the kinds
of words they retain (e.g. Words that they are today archaic or regional in Europe) and the kinds of changes
these words underwent.
some of these changes are at least partly attributable to a common African substratum (e.g. calques,
certain semantic shifts and reduplication) and some to the wholesale restructuring which is characteristics
of pidginization and creolization (e.g. the reanalysis of morpheme boundaries).
The only thing distinctive about pidgin and creole lexicon is not the kind of changes that words have
undergone but rather the extent to which the vocabulary has been affected by them.
ex. While one might w/ luck find a dozen examples of the reanalysis of morpheme boundaries in
English , e.g. a napron becoming an apron, hundreds of examples of this phenomenon can be found in any
creole based on French.
4.1 Pidginization and the lexicon:
The size, structure and development of the lexicons of such extended varieties contrast sharply w/ those of
reduced pidgins, and even more w/ those of pre-pidgin jargons.
Estimates of a total lexicon of several hundred words or less have been given for the 19th century South
Seas Jargon.
Regarding pidgins, Bauer estimates that a knowledge of some 700-750 Chinese Pidgin English was
sufficient for most purposes in trade, the pidgin’s only real domain.
there is still every indication that the lexicons of early (i.e., non-extended) pidgins are very much smaller
than those of natural languages.
-h/e, certain characteristics of such lexicons partly compensate for their restricted size:multifunctionality
(one word having many syntactic uses), polysemy (one word having many meanings) and
circumlocution( lexical items consisting of phrases rather than single words).
Polysemy can be illustrated by the broad range of meanings usually found in pidgin prepositions such as
Tok Pisin bilong, Cameroonian fo, Russenorsk pa or Chinese Pidgin Russian za, used to express nearly
every locative relationship imaginable.
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h/e, this apparently universal tendency in pidgins may also reinforced by substrate influence in some
cases: like West African Pidgin English fo, Ibo na and Yoruba ni ‘both refer…to location in a general way’.
It seems likely that there is a relationship b/w polysemy in pidgins and the fairly frequent semantic
broadening found in Creole words, e.g., Krio CE na, which is also a general locative proposition.
Stolz has pointed out to the fact that Afrikaans vir can replace almost every other proposition as evidence
of an earlier pidgin stage.
Polysemy in pidgins naturally leads to circumlocution w/ modifying phrases to specify the intended
meaning, e.g. Tok Pisin gras bilong fes ‘beard’ as opposed to gras bilong hed ‘hair’.
4.2 Superstrate sources:
Creole languages have typically drawn a considerable part of their lexicon from their source languages
in form s virtually identical to those of the standing and variety except for certain fairly regular sound
Even these often happened not to affect particular items, leaving words such as Jamaican CE brij or
Haitian CF indistinguishable from English bridge or French pont.
moreover, those creoles that remained in contact w/ their lexical source languages, either through
diglossia or a continuum, kept drawing on them for terms needed in modern life, such as French
Antillean CF
In a comparative lexical study, found that such parallels to contemporary standard French
usage constitute over 60% of the Haitian CF lexicon; in Seychellois CF, which has coexisted w/
standard English rather than French since 1810, such parallels still constitute nearly 55% of the
4.2.1 Survival of archaic usages:
The word ‘from’ is found in a number of English-based Atlantic creoles as a conjunction w/ the temporal
meaning of ‘since’
e.g. ‘From I was a child I do that.’
-this usage is part of both archaic and regional English
The last recorded use of from w/ this meaning in the Oxford English Dictionary was in 1602, suggesting
that it was still current in standard speech when English began spreading throughout the Carribean in the
17th century.
-Thus there is no way of knowing whether from meaning ‘since’ was brought into Caribbean English
creoles by speakers of standard (but archaic) English or by speakers of regional British dialects.
The word bay or ba meaning ‘give’ is current in many of the New World varieties of Creole French; it is
from bailler ‘give, deliver’ (cf. English ‘bail’), which was current in standard French until the 17th century
but which is now archaic.
Another kind of archaism found in creoles is the preservation of pronunciation that is no longer current in
the metropolitan variety.
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Miskito Coast CE retains the diphthong that was currently in polite 18th century British speech in
words like bail ‘boil’ and jain ‘join’
-this sound became in standard English after about 1800.
-this makes the creole word for ‘lawyer’ homophonous w/ the standard English liar (but there is no
confusion since the latter takes the dialectal form liard analogous to criard ‘crier’ and stinkard ‘stinker’- cf.
standard drunkard).
The preservation of archaic pronunciations can be found in the creoles of other lexical bases as well.
eg. Haitian CF
-the earliest pronunciation of French chat, now
4.2.2 Survival of regional usages:
Creoles also preserve forms, meanings, and pronunciations that are now found only in regional dialects of
their lexical source languages.
In the case of the Atlantic creoles, this is a consequence of the fact that the great majority of Europeans
who went to live in African or Caribbean colonies from the 16th to the 18th centuries were uneducated
speakers of regional dialects.
Studies of British regionalisms in Krio CE and Miskito Coast CE suggest that there might be a relationship
b/w the proportion of regionalisms from various districts in the creole and patterns of actual immigration
from these districts to the colony where the creole developed.
h/e, there are a # of factors that complicate such an inference.
1) There is often an insoluble problem of determining whether a particular creole word preserves a
regional rather than archaic usage.
2) The accuracy of European dialect studies in the 19th century (when many such words were already
falling out of use) was often spotty (patterned) regarding a word’s actual geographic distribution.
3) It is by no means clear where the particular mix of dialect forms occurred.
ex. Whether it was in the colony itself or another colony from which there had been immigration to
the colony in question.
In the English-based creoles so studied ( Krio, Miskito Coast, and the Bahamian) the similarity of the
proportion of words from the North Country, Scotland and Ireland suggests that a general colonial variety
of English may have formed before being creolized and spread by diffusion.
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