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A creole language, or simply creole, is a stable
natural language In neuropsychology Neuropsychology is a branch of psychology. It is concerned with how a person's cognition and behavior are related to the brain and the rest of the nervous system. Professionals in this branch of psychology often focus on ...
that develops from the simplifying and mixing of different languages into a new one within a fairly brief period of time: often, a
pidgin A pidgin , or pidgin language, is a grammatically simplified means of communication that develops between two or more groups that do not have a language in common: typically, its vocabulary and grammar are limited and often drawn from several lan ...

pidgin
evolved into a full-fledged language. While the concept is similar to that of a mixed or hybrid language, creoles are often characterized by a tendency to systematize their inherited grammar (e.g., by eliminating irregularities or regularizing the conjugation of otherwise irregular verbs). Like any language, creoles are characterized by a consistent system of
grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the ...
, possess large stable vocabularies, and are acquired by children as their
native language A first language, native tongue, native language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1) is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) ...
. These three features distinguish a creole language from a pidgin. Creolistics, or creology, is the study of creole languages and, as such, is a subfield of
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo ...

linguistics
. Someone who engages in this study is called a creolist. The precise number of creole languages is not known, particularly as many are poorly attested or documented. About one hundred creole languages have arisen since 1500. These are predominantly based on European languages such as English and French due to the European
Age of Discovery The Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration (sometimes also, particularly regionally, Age of Contact or Contact Period), is an informal and loosely defined term for the early modern period approximately from the 15th century to the 18th century ...
and the
Atlantic slave trade The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of various enslaved African African(s) may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa: ** ...
that arose at that time. With the improvements in
ship-building Shipbuilding is the construction Construction is a general term meaning the and to form , , or ,"Construction" def. 1.a. 1.b. and 1.c. ''Oxford English Dictionary'' Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) Oxford University Press 2009 and c ...
and
navigation Navigation is a field of study that focuses on the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another.Bowditch, 2003:799. The field of navigation includes four general categories: land navigation, ...

navigation
, traders had to learn to communicate with people around the world, and the quickest way to do this was to develop a pidgin, or simplified language suited to the purpose; in turn, full creole languages developed from these pidgins. In addition to creoles that have European languages as their base, there are, for example, creoles based on Arabic, Chinese, and Malay. The creole with the largest number of speakers is
Haitian Creole Haitian Creole (; ht, kreyòl ayisyen, links=no; french: créole haïtien), commonly referred to as simply ''Creole'', or ''Kreyòl'' in the Creole language, is a French-based creole language A French creole, or French-based creole language, ...
, with over ten million native speakers, followed by
Tok Pisin Tok Pisin (,Laurie Bauer, 2007, ''The Linguistics Student’s Handbook'', Edinburgh Tok Pisin ), often referred to by English speakers as "New Guinea Pidgin" or simply "Pidgin", is a creole language Creole may refer to: Anthropology * Creo ...
with about 4 million, most of whom are second-language speakers. The
lexicon A lexicon is the vocabulary A vocabulary is a set of familiar words In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, pra ...

lexicon
of a creole language is largely supplied by the parent languages, particularly that of the most dominant group in the social context of the creole's construction. However, there are often clear
phonetic Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) an ...
and
semantic Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another o ...
shifts. On the other hand, the grammar that has evolved often has new or unique features that differ substantially from those of the parent languages.


Overview

A creole is believed to arise when a
pidgin A pidgin , or pidgin language, is a grammatically simplified means of communication that develops between two or more groups that do not have a language in common: typically, its vocabulary and grammar are limited and often drawn from several lan ...

pidgin
, developed by adults for use as a second language, becomes the native and primary language of their children – a process known as
nativization Nativization is the process through which in the virtual absence of native speakers, a language undergoes new phonological Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the a ...
. The
pidgin A pidgin , or pidgin language, is a grammatically simplified means of communication that develops between two or more groups that do not have a language in common: typically, its vocabulary and grammar are limited and often drawn from several lan ...

pidgin
-creole life cycle was studied by American linguist Robert Hall in the 1960s. Some linguists, such as Derek Bickerton, posit that creoles share more grammatical similarities with each other than with the languages from which they are phylogenetically derived. However, there is no widely accepted theory that would account for those perceived similarities. Moreover, no grammatical feature has been shown to be specific to creoles. Many of the creoles known today arose in the last 500 years, as a result of the worldwide expansion of European maritime power and trade in the
Age of Discovery The Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration (sometimes also, particularly regionally, Age of Contact or Contact Period), is an informal and loosely defined term for the early modern period approximately from the 15th century to the 18th century ...
, which led to extensive
European colonial empires European, or Europeans, may refer to: In general * ''European'', an adjective referring to something of, from, or related to Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convent ...
. Like most non-official and minority languages, creoles have generally been regarded in popular opinion as degenerate variants or
dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * One usage refers to a variety (linguis ...
s of their parent languages. Because of that prejudice, many of the creoles that arose in the European colonies, having been stigmatized, have become
extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biol ...
. However, political and academic changes in recent decades have improved the status of creoles, both as living languages and as object of linguistic study. Some creoles have even been granted the status of official or semi-official languages of particular political territories. Linguists now recognize that creole formation is a universal phenomenon, not limited to the European colonial period, and an important aspect of language evolution. For example, in 1933 Sigmund Feist postulated a creole origin for the
Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...

Germanic languages
. Other scholars, such as
Salikoko MufweneSalikoko Mufwene is a linguist born in Mbaya-Lareme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo (french: RD Cong ...
, argue that pidgins and creoles arise independently under different circumstances, and that a pidgin need not always precede a creole nor a creole evolve from a pidgin. Pidgins, according to Mufwene, emerged in trade colonies among "users who preserved their native vernaculars for their day-to-day interactions". Creoles, meanwhile, developed in settlement colonies in which speakers of a European language, often
indentured servants Indentured servitude is a form of forced labor in which a person (an indenture) is forced to work without salary for a specific number of years for eventual compensation or debt repayment. Historically, it has been used to punish and relocate cap ...
whose language would be far from the standard in the first place, interacted extensively with non-European
slave Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that gives ...

slave
s, absorbing certain words and features from the slaves' non-European native languages, resulting in a heavily
basilectA post-creole continuum (or simply creole continuum) is a dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are mutually intelligible In ...
alized version of the original language. These servants and slaves would come to use the creole as an everyday vernacular, rather than merely in situations in which contact with a speaker of the superstrate was necessary.


History


Etymology

The English term ''creole'' comes from French , which is cognate with the Spanish term and
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...
, all descending from the verb ''criar'' ('to breed' or 'to raise'), all coming from Latin ('to produce, create'). The specific sense of the term was coined in the 16th and 17th century, during the great expansion in European maritime power and trade that led to the establishment of European colonies in other continents. The terms ''criollo'' and ''crioulo'' were originally qualifiers used throughout the Spanish and Portuguese colonies to distinguish the members of an ethnic group who were born and raised locally from those who immigrated as adults. They were most commonly applied to nationals of the colonial power, e.g. to distinguish '' españoles criollos'' (people born in the colonies from Spanish ancestors) from (those born in the Iberian Peninsula, i.e. Spain). However, in Brazil the term was also used to distinguish between ''negros crioulos'' (blacks born in Brazil from African slave ancestors) and ''negros africanos'' (born in Africa). Over time, the term and its derivatives (Creole, Kréol, Kreyol, Kreyòl, Kriol, Krio, etc.) lost the generic meaning and became the proper name of many distinct ethnic groups that developed locally from immigrant communities. Originally, therefore, the term "creole language" meant the speech of any of those
creole peoples Creole people are ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, moralit ...
.


Geographic distribution

As a consequence of colonial European trade patterns, most of the known European-based creole languages arose in coastal areas in the equatorial belt around the world, including the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with th ...

Americas
, western
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
,
Goa Goa () is a state on the southwestern coast of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the ...

Goa
along the west of
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
, and along Southeast
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...

Asia
up to
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
,
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign state, sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bor ...

Singapore
,
Macau Macau or Macao (; ; ; ), officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (MSAR), (RAEM) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. Lond ...

Macau
,
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Pe ...

Hong Kong
, the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Malaysia
,
Mauritius Mauritius ( ; french: Maurice, link=no ; mfe, label=Mauritian Creole Mauritian Creole or Morisien or formerly Morisyen ( mfe, kreol morisien, links=no ) is a French-based creole language spoken in Mauritius Mauritius ( ; french: ...

Mauritius
, Reunion,
Seychelles Seychelles (; ), officially the Republic of Seychelles (french: link=no, République des Seychelles; Creole: ''La Repiblik Sesel''), is an archipelagic island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country ...

Seychelles
and
Oceania Oceania (, , ) is a geographic region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Eart ...

Oceania
. Many of those creoles are now extinct, but others still survive in the
Caribbean The Caribbean (, ; es, Caribe; french: Caraïbes; ht, Karayib; also gcf, label=Antillean Creole Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole, which is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles ...
, the north and east coasts of
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

South America
(
The Guyanas The Guianas, sometimes called by the Spanish loan-word ''Guayanas'' (''Las Guayanas''), is a region in north-eastern South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, wit ...
), western
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
,
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
(see
Australian Kriol language Australian Kriol is an English-based creole language A creole language, or simply creole, is a stable that develops from the simplifying and mixing of different languages into a new one within a fairly brief period of time: often, a e ...
), the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
(see
Chavacano Chavacano or Chabacano is a group of varieties spoken in the . The variety spoken in , located in the southern Philippine island group of Mindanao, has the highest concentration of speakers. Other currently existing varieties are found in Cavit ...

Chavacano
) and in the
Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's five ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of and contains 97% of . Another definition is "any of the large ...

Indian Ocean
.
Atlantic CreoleAtlantic Creole is a term used in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is ...
languages are based on European languages with elements from African and possibly
Amerindian languages Over a thousand Indigenous languages An indigenous language or autochthonous language, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lan ...
.
Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's five ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of and contains 97% of . Another definition is "any of the large ...

Indian Ocean
Creole languages are based on European languages with elements from
Malagasy Malagasy may refer to: *Someone or something from Madagascar *Malagasy people *Malagasy language *Malagasy Republic *Related to the culture of Madagascar See also

*Madagascar (disambiguation) {{disambiguation Language and nationality disambi ...
and possibly other Asian languages. There are, however, creoles like
Nubi The Nubi language (also called Ki-Nubi) is a Sudanese Arabic-based creole language spoken in Uganda around Bombo, Uganda, Bombo, and in Kenya around Kibera, by the Nubians (Uganda), Ugandan Nubians, many of whom are descendants of Emin Pasha's Sud ...
and Sango that are derived solely from non-European languages.


Social and political status

Because of the generally low status of the Creole peoples in the eyes of prior European colonial powers, creole languages have generally been regarded as "degenerate" languages, or at best as rudimentary "dialects" of the politically dominant parent languages. Because of this, the word "creole" was generally used by linguists in opposition to "language", rather than as a qualifier for it.See . Another factor that may have contributed to the relative neglect of creole languages in linguistics is that they do not fit the 19th-century
neogrammarian The Neogrammarians (German: ''Junggrammatiker'', 'young grammarians') were a German school of linguists Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods ...
"tree model" for the evolution of languages, and its postulated regularity of sound changes (these critics including the earliest advocates of the
wave model In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes ...
, Johannes Schmidt and
Hugo SchuchardtHugo Ernst Mario Schuchardt (4 February 1842, Gotha (Thuringia Thuringia (; german: Thüringen ), officially the Free State of Thuringia ( ), is a states of Germany, state of Germany. Located in central Germany, it covers , being the sixth small ...
, the forerunners of modern
sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, ...
). This controversy of the late 19th century profoundly shaped modern approaches to the
comparative method In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
in
historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change Language change is variation over time in a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including s ...
and in creolistics. Because of social, political, and academic changes brought on by decolonization in the second half of the 20th century, creole languages have experienced revivals in the past few decades. They are increasingly being used in print and film, and in many cases, their community prestige has improved dramatically. In fact, some have been standardized, and are used in local schools and universities around the world. At the same time, linguists have begun to come to the realization that creole languages are in no way inferior to other languages. They now use the term "creole" or "creole language" for any language suspected to have undergone
creolization Creolization is the process through which creole languages and cultures emerge. Creolization was first used by linguists to explain how contact languages Language contact occurs when speakers of two or more languages A language is a structure ...
, terms that now imply no geographic restrictions nor ethnic prejudices. There is controversy about the extent to which creolization influenced the evolution of
African-American Vernacular English African-American Vernacular English (AAVE, ), also referred to as Black Vernacular, Black English Vernacular (BEV), Black Vernacular English (BVE), occasionally as Ebonics (word), Ebonics (a colloquial, Ebonics (word)#Common usage and controversy ...
(AAVE). In the American education system, as well as in the past, the use of the word ''ebonics'' to refer to AAVE mirrors the historical negative connotation of the word ''creole''.


Classification


Historic classification

According to their external history, four types of creoles have been distinguished: plantation creoles, fort creoles,
maroon Maroon (American English, US/British English, UK , Australian English, Australia ) is a brownish crimson color that takes its name from the French language, French word ''marron'', or chestnut. "Marron" is also one of the French translatio ...
creoles, and creolized pidgins. By the very nature of a creole language, the
phylogenetic In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanism ...

phylogenetic
classification of a particular creole usually is a matter of dispute; especially when the pidgin precursor and its parent tongues (which may have been other creoles or pidgins) have disappeared before they could be documented. Phylogenetic classification traditionally relies on inheritance of the lexicon, especially of "core" terms, and of the grammar structure. However, in creoles, the core lexicon often has mixed origin, and the grammar is largely original. For these reasons, the issue of which language is ''the'' parent of a creole – that is, whether a language should be classified as a "French creole", "Portuguese creole" or "English creole", etc. – often has no definitive answer, and can become the topic of long-lasting controversies, where social prejudices and political considerations may interfere with scientific discussion.


Substrate and superstrate

The terms
substrate Substrate may refer to: Physical layers *Substrate (biology), the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the surface or medium on which an organism grows or is attached **Substrate (locomotion), the surface over which an organism loco ...
and
superstrate In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
are often used when two languages interact. However, the meaning of these terms is reasonably well-defined only in
second language acquisition Second-language acquisition (SLA), sometimes called second-language learning — otherwise referred to as L2 (language 2) acquisition, is the process by which people learn a second language. Second-language acquisition is also the scientific disc ...
or language replacement events, when the native speakers of a certain source language (the substrate) are somehow compelled to abandon it for another target language (the superstrate). The outcome of such an event is that erstwhile speakers of the substrate will use some version of the superstrate, at least in more formal contexts. The substrate may survive as a second language for informal conversation. As demonstrated by the fate of many replaced European languages (such as
Etruscan__NOTOC__ Etruscan may refer to: Ancient civilisation *The Etruscan language, an extinct language in ancient Italy *Something derived from or related to the Etruscan civilization **Etruscan architecture **Etruscan art **Etruscan cities **Etruscan ...
,
Breton Breton most often refers to: *anything associated with Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part ...
, and Venetian), the influence of the substrate on the official speech is often limited to pronunciation and a modest number of loanwords. The substrate might even disappear altogether without leaving any trace. However, there is dispute over the extent to which the terms "substrate" and "superstrate" are applicable to the genesis or the description of creole languages. The language replacement model may not be appropriate in creole formation contexts, where the emerging language is derived from multiple languages without any one of them being imposed as a replacement for any other. The substratum-superstratum distinction becomes awkward when multiple superstrata must be assumed (such as in
Papiamento Papiamento () or Papiamentu (; nl, Papiaments) is a Portuguese-based creole language spoken in the Dutch Caribbean. It is the most widely spoken language on the Caribbean The Caribbean (, ; es, Caribe; french: Caraïbes; ht, Karayib; als ...
), when the substratum cannot be identified, or when the presence or the survival of substratal evidence is inferred from mere typological analogies. On the other hand, the distinction may be meaningful when the contributions of each parent language to the resulting creole can be shown to be very unequal, in a scientifically meaningful way. In the literature on
Atlantic CreoleAtlantic Creole is a term used in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is ...
s, "superstrate" usually means European and "substrate" non-European or African.


Decreolization

Since creole languages rarely attain official status, the speakers of a fully formed creole may eventually feel compelled to conform their speech to one of the parent languages. This decreolization process typically brings about a post-creole speech continuum characterized by large-scale variation and
hypercorrection In sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural Norm (sociology), norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and society's effect on language ...
in the language. It is generally acknowledged that creoles have a simpler grammar and more internal variability than older, more established languages. However, these notions are occasionally challenged. (See also
language complexityLanguage complexity is a topic in linguistics which can be divided into several sub-topics such as Phonology, phonological, Morphology (linguistics), morphological, Syntax, syntactic, and Semantics, semantic complexity. The subject also carries impor ...
.) Phylogenetic or typological comparisons of creole languages have led to divergent conclusions. Similarities are usually higher among creoles derived from related languages, such as the
languages of Europe Most languages of Europe belong to the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures ...

languages of Europe
, than among broader groups that include also creoles based on non-
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
(like Nubi or Sango).
French-based creole languages A French creole, or French-based creole language, is a creole language Creole may refer to: Anthropology * Creole peoples, ethnic groups which originated from linguistic, cultural, and racial mixing between colonial-era emigrants from Europe ...
in turn are more similar to each other (and to varieties of French) than to other European-based creoles. It was observed, in particular, that
definite article An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases A noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a that has a or as its or performs the same grammatical function as a noun. Noun phrases are very common , and the ...
s are mostly prenominal in
English-based creole languages An English-based creole language (often shortened to English creole) is a creole language Creole may refer to: Anthropology * Creole peoples, ethnic groups which originated from linguistic, cultural, and racial mixing between colonial-era em ...
and English whereas they are generally postnominal in French creoles and in the variety of French that was exported to what is now Quebec in the 17th and 18th century. Moreover, the European languages which gave rise to the creole languages of European colonies all belong to the same subgroup of Western
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation ...
and have highly convergent grammars; to the point that Whorf joined them into a single
Standard Average European Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard (metrology), an object that bears a defined relationship to a unit ...
language group. French and English are particularly close, since English, through extensive borrowing, is typologically closer to French than to other Germanic languages. Thus the claimed similarities between creoles may be mere consequences of similar parentage, rather than characteristic features of all creoles.


Creole genesis

There are a variety of theories on the origin of creole languages, all of which attempt to explain the similarities among them. outline a fourfold classification of explanations regarding creole genesis: # Theories focusing on European input # Theories focusing on non-European input # Gradualist and developmental hypotheses # Universalist approaches In addition to the precise mechanism of creole genesis, a more general debate has developed whether creole languages are characterized by different mechanisms than traditional languages (which is McWhorter's 2018 main point) or whether in that regard creole languages develop by the same mechanisms as any other languages (e.g. DeGraff 2001).


Theories focusing on European input


Monogenetic theory of pidgins and creoles

The monogenetic theory of pidgins and creoles hypothesizes that all Atlantic creoles derived from a single Mediterranean Lingua Franca, via a West African Pidgin Portuguese of the seventeenth century, relexified in the so-called "slave factories" of Western Africa that were the source of the
Atlantic slave trade The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of various enslaved African African(s) may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa: ** ...
. This theory was originally formulated by
Hugo SchuchardtHugo Ernst Mario Schuchardt (4 February 1842, Gotha (Thuringia Thuringia (; german: Thüringen ), officially the Free State of Thuringia ( ), is a states of Germany, state of Germany. Located in central Germany, it covers , being the sixth small ...
in the late nineteenth century and popularized in the late 1950s and early 1960s by Taylor, Whinnom, Thompson, and Stewart. However, this hypothesis is now not widely accepted, since it relies on all creole-speaking slave populations being based on the same Portuguese-based creole, despite no to very little historical exposure to Portuguese for many of these populations, no strong direct evidence for this claim, and with Portuguese leaving almost no trace on the lexicon of most of them, with the similarities in grammar explainable by analogous processes of loss of inflection and grammatical forms not common to European and West African languages. For example, points out that relexification postulates too many improbabilities and that it is unlikely that a language "could be disseminated round the entire tropical zone, to peoples of widely differing language background, and still preserve a virtually complete identity in its grammatical structure wherever it took root, despite considerable changes in its phonology and virtually complete changes in its lexicon".


Domestic origin hypothesis

Proposed by for the origin of English-based creoles of the West Indies, the Domestic Origin Hypothesis argues that, towards the end of the 16th century, English-speaking traders began to settle in the Gambia and
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone (, also , ), officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, informally Salone, is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 co ...

Sierra Leone
rivers as well as in neighboring areas such as the Bullom and Sherbro coasts. These settlers intermarried with the local population leading to mixed populations, and, as a result of this intermarriage, an English pidgin was created. This pidgin was learned by slaves in slave depots, who later on took it to the West Indies and formed one component of the emerging English creoles.


European dialect origin hypothesis

The French creoles are the foremost candidates to being the outcome of "normal" linguistic change and their creoleness to be sociohistoric in nature and relative to their colonial origin. Within this theoretical framework, a French creole is a language
phylogenetic In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanism ...

phylogenetic
ally based on , more specifically on a 17th-century koiné French extant in
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Paris
, the French Atlantic harbours, and the nascent French colonies. Supporters of this hypothesis suggest that the non-Creole French dialects still spoken in many parts of the Americas share mutual descent from this single koiné. These dialects are found in
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
(mostly in
Québec Quebec ( , sometimes ; french: Québec, link=no )According to the Government of Canada, Canadian government, ''Québec'' (with the acute accent) is the official name in Canadian French and ''Quebec'' (without the accent) is the province's official ...

Québec
and in
Acadian The Acadians (french: Acadiens, ''Acadiennes'' ) are the descendants of the French colonial empire, French who Old Acadian Villages of Nova Scotia, settled in Acadia during the 17th and 18th centuries. Some are also descended from the Algonqui ...
communities),
Louisiana Louisiana (Standard French Standard French (in French: ''le français standard'', ''le français normé'', ''le français neutre'' eutral Frenchor ''le français international'' nternational French is an unofficial term for a standard ...

Louisiana
, and as isolates in other parts of the Americas. Approaches under this hypothesis are compatible with
gradualism Gradualism, from the Latin ''gradus'' ("step"), is a hypothesis, a theory or a tenet assuming that change comes about gradually or that variation is gradual in nature and happens over time as opposed to in large steps. Uniformitarianism at Jedburg ...
in
change Change or Changing may refer to: Alteration * Impermanence Impermanence, also known as the philosophical problem of change, is a philosophical concept addressed in a variety of religions and philosophies. In Eastern philosophy it is notable ...
and models of imperfect language transmission in koiné genesis.


Foreigner talk and baby talk

The Foreigner Talk (FT) hypothesis argues that a pidgin or creole language forms when native speakers attempt to simplify their language in order to address speakers who do not know their language at all. Because of the similarities found in this type of speech and speech directed to a small child, it is also sometimes called
baby talk Baby talk is a type of speech associated with an older person speaking to a child. It is also called caretaker speech, infant-directed speech (IDS), child-directed speech (CDS), child-directed language (CDL), caregiver register, parentese, or mo ...
. suggest that four different processes are involved in creating Foreigner Talk: * Accommodation * Imitation * Telegraphic condensation * Conventions This could explain why creole languages have much in common, while avoiding a monogenetic model. However, , in analyzing German Foreigner Talk, claims that it is too inconsistent and unpredictable to provide any model for language learning. While the simplification of input was supposed to account for creoles' simple grammar, commentators have raised a number of criticisms of this explanation: # There are a great many grammatical similarities amongst pidgins and creoles despite having very different
lexifier A lexifier is the language that provides the basis for the majority of a pidgin or creole language's vocabulary (lexicon). Often this language is also the dominant, or superstrate language, though this is not always the case, as can be seen in the ...
languages. # Grammatical simplification can be explained by other processes, i.e. the innate grammar of Bickerton's language bioprogram theory. # Speakers of a creole's lexifier language often fail to understand, without learning the language, the grammar of a pidgin or creole. # Pidgins are more often used amongst speakers of different substrate languages than between such speakers and those of the lexifier language. Another problem with the FT explanation is its potential circularity. points out that FT is often based on the imitation of the incorrect speech of the non-natives, that is the pidgin. Therefore, one may be mistaken in assuming that the former gave rise to the latter.


Imperfect L2 learning

The imperfect L2 (second language) learning hypothesis claims that pidgins are primarily the result of the imperfect L2 learning of the dominant lexifier language by the slaves. Research on naturalistic L2 processes has revealed a number of features of "interlanguage systems" that are also seen in pidgins and creoles: * invariant verb forms derived from the infinitive or the least marked finite verb form; * loss of determiners or use of demonstrative pronouns, adjectives or adverbs as determiners; * placement of a negative particle in preverbal position; * use of adverbs to express modality (natural language), modality; * fixed single word order with no inversion in questions; * reduced or absent nominal plural marking. Imperfect L2 learning is compatible with other approaches, notably the European dialect origin hypothesis and the universalist models of language transmission.


Theories focusing on non-European input

Theories focusing on the substrate, or non-European, languages attribute similarities amongst creoles to the similarities of African substrate languages. These features are often assumed to be transferred from the substrate language to the creole or to be preserved invariant from the substrate language in the creole through a process of relexification: the substrate language replaces the native lexical items with lexical material from the superstrate language while retaining the native grammatical categories. The problem with this explanation is that the postulated substrate languages differ amongst themselves and with creoles in meaningful ways. argues that the number and diversity of African languages and the paucity of a historical record on creole genesis makes determining lexical correspondences a matter of chance. coined the term "cafeteria principle" to refer to the practice of arbitrarily attributing features of creoles to the influence of substrate African languages or assorted substandard dialects of European languages. For a representative debate on this issue, see the contributions to ; for a more recent view, . Because of the sociohistoric similarities amongst many (but by no means all) of the creoles, the
Atlantic slave trade The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of various enslaved African African(s) may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa: ** ...
and the plantation system of the European colonies have been emphasized as factors by linguists such as .


Gradualist and developmental hypotheses

One class of creoles might start as
pidgin A pidgin , or pidgin language, is a grammatically simplified means of communication that develops between two or more groups that do not have a language in common: typically, its vocabulary and grammar are limited and often drawn from several lan ...

pidgin
s, rudimentary second languages improvised for use between speakers of two or more non-intelligible native languages. Keith Whinnom (in ) suggests that pidgins need three languages to form, with one (the superstrate) being clearly dominant over the others. The lexicon of a pidgin is usually small and drawn from the vocabularies of its speakers, in varying proportions. Morphological details like word inflections, which usually take years to learn, are omitted; the syntax is kept very simple, usually based on strict word order. In this initial stage, all aspects of the speech – syntax, lexicon, and pronunciation – tend to be quite variable, especially with regard to the speaker's background. If a pidgin manages to be learned by the children of a community as a native language, it may become fixed and acquire a more complex grammar, with fixed phonology, syntax, morphology, and syntactic embedding. Pidgins can become full languages in only a single generation. "Creolization" is this second stage where the pidgin language develops into a fully developed native language. The vocabulary, too, will develop to contain more and more items according to a rationale of lexical enrichment.


Universalist approaches

linguistic universal, Universalist models stress the intervention of specific general processes during the transmission of language from generation to generation and from speaker to speaker. The process invoked varies: a general tendency towards
semantic Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another o ...
transparency (linguistic), transparency, first-language learning driven by universal process, or a general process of discourse organization. Bickerton's language bioprogram theory, proposed in the 1980s, remains the main universalist theory. Bickerton claims that creoles are inventions of the children growing up on newly founded plantations. Around them, they only heard pidgins spoken, without enough structure to function as
natural language In neuropsychology Neuropsychology is a branch of psychology. It is concerned with how a person's cognition and behavior are related to the brain and the rest of the nervous system. Professionals in this branch of psychology often focus on ...
s; and the children used their own innate linguistic capacities to transform the pidgin input into a full-fledged language. The alleged common features of all creoles would then stem from those innate abilities being universal.


Recent studies

The last decades have seen the emergence of some new questions about the nature of creoles: in particular, the question of how complex creoles are and the question of whether creoles are indeed "exceptional" languages.


Creole prototype

Some features that distinguish creole languages from noncreoles have been proposed (by Bickerton, for example). John McWhorter has proposed the following list of features to indicate a creole prototype: * a lack of inflectional morphology (other than at most two or three inflectional affixes), * a lack of tone on monosyllabic words, and * a lack of semantically opaque word formation. McWhorter hypothesizes that these three properties exactly characterize a creole. However, the creole prototype hypothesis has been disputed: * Henri Wittmann (1999) and David argue that languages such as Manding languages, Manding, Soninke language, Soninke, Magoua, Magoua French and Riau Indonesian language, Indonesian have all these three features but show none of the sociohistoric traits of creole languages. * Others (see overview in ) have demonstrated creoles that serve as counterexamples to McWhorter's hypothesis – the existence of inflectional morphology in Berbice Dutch Creole, for example, or Tone (linguistics), tone in Papiamentu.


Exceptionalism

Building up on this discussion, McWhorter proposed that "the world's simplest grammars are Creole grammars", claiming that every noncreole language's grammar is at least as complex as any creole language's grammar. Gil has replied that Riau Indonesian has a simpler grammar than Saramaccan, the language McWhorter uses as a showcase for his theory. The same objections were raised by Wittmann in his 1999 debate with McWhorter. The lack of progress made in defining creoles in terms of their morphology and syntax has led scholars such as Robert Chaudenson,
Salikoko MufweneSalikoko Mufwene is a linguist born in Mbaya-Lareme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo (french: RD Cong ...
, Michel DeGraff, and Henri Wittmann to question the value of ''creole'' as a typological class; they argue that creoles are structurally no different from any other language, and that ''creole'' is a sociohistoric concept – not a linguistic one – encompassing displaced populations and slavery. spell out the idea of creole exceptionalism, claiming that creole languages are an instance of nongenetic language change due to language shift with abnormal transmission. Gradualists question the abnormal transmission of languages in a creole setting and argue that the processes which created today's creole languages are no different from universal patterns of language change. Given these objections to ''creole'' as a concept, DeGraff and others question the idea that creoles are exceptional in any meaningful way. Additionally, argues that some Romance languages are potential creoles but that they are not considered as such by linguists because of a historical bias against such a view.


Controversy

Creolistics investigates the relative creoleness of languages suspected to be creole (language), creoles, what calls "the cline (linguistics), cline of creoleness." No consensus exists among creolists as to whether the nature of creoleness is prototypical or merely evidence indicative of a set of recognizable phenomena seen in association with little inherent unity and no underlying single cause.


"Creole", a sociohistoric concept

''Creoleness'' is at the heart of the controversy with John McWhorter and Mikael Parkvall opposing Henri Wittmann (1999) and Michel DeGraff. In McWhorter's definition, creoleness is a matter of degree, in that prototypical creoles exhibit all of the three traits he proposes to diagnose creoleness: little or no inflection, little or no Tone (linguistics), tone, and Transparency (linguistic), transparent derivation (linguistics), derivation. In McWhorter's view, less prototypical creoles depart somewhat from this prototype. Along these lines, McWhorter defines
Haitian Creole Haitian Creole (; ht, kreyòl ayisyen, links=no; french: créole haïtien), commonly referred to as simply ''Creole'', or ''Kreyòl'' in the Creole language, is a French-based creole language A French creole, or French-based creole language, ...
, exhibiting all three traits, as "the most creole of creoles." A creole like Palenquero, on the other hand, would be less prototypical, given the presence of inflection to mark plural, past, gerund, and participle forms. Objections to the McWhorter-Parkvall hypotheses point out that these typological parameters of creoleness can be found in languages such as Manding languages, Manding, Soninke language, Sooninke, and Magoua which are not considered creoles. Wittmann and DeGraff come to the conclusion that efforts to conceive a yardstick for measuring creoleness in any scientifically meaningful way have failed so far. comes to the same conclusion for Riau Indonesian language, Indonesian. have adduced evidence as to creole languages which respond unexpectedly to one of McWhorter's three features (for example, inflectional morphology in Berbice Dutch Creole, Tone (linguistics), tone in Papiamentu). and have argued further that Creole languages are structurally no different from any other language, and that Creole is in fact a sociohistoric concept (and not a linguistic one), encompassing displaced population and slavery. discuss creolistics in relation to colonialism, colonialist ideologies, rejecting the notion that Creoles can be responsibly defined in terms of specific grammatical characteristics. They discuss the history of linguistics and nineteenth-century work that argues for the consideration of the sociohistorical contexts in which Creole languages emerged.


"Creole", a genuine linguistic concept

On the other hand, McWhorter points out that in languages such as Bambara, essentially a dialect of Manding, there is ample non-transparent derivation, and that there is no reason to suppose that this would be absent in close relatives such as Mandinka itself. Moreover, he also observes that Soninke has what all linguists would analyze as inflections, and that current lexicography of Soninke is too elementary for it to be stated with authority that it does not have non-transparent derivation. Meanwhile, Magoua French, as described by Henri Wittmann, retains some indication of grammatical gender, which qualifies as inflection, and it also retains non-transparent derivation. Michel DeGraff's argument has been that
Haitian Creole Haitian Creole (; ht, kreyòl ayisyen, links=no; french: créole haïtien), commonly referred to as simply ''Creole'', or ''Kreyòl'' in the Creole language, is a French-based creole language A French creole, or French-based creole language, ...
retains non-transparent derivation from French. To the defense of DeGraff and Wittmann it must be said that McWhorter's 2005 book is a collection of previously published papers and that it contains nothing on "defining creole", Manding, Sooninke or Magoua that wasn't already known when DeGraff and Wittmann published their critiques as can be seen from their published debate. As it is, McWhorter's book does not offer anything new by the way of analysis of Manding, Soninke, or Magoua that wasn't already debated on in his exchange with Wittmann on Creolist. The issues in question are, at this point, unresolved as to sustaining McWhorter's hypotheses in any significant way though DeGraff's 2005 contribution addresses their weaknesses as far as Haitian Creole is concerned adding new evidence against. The only conclusion possibly so far as the typological differences between Manding, Soninke, Magoua and Haitian are concerned is that their comparative data do not confirm McWhorter's yardstick approach to defining creole.


Additional resources

critically assesses the proposal that creole languages exist as a homogeneous structural type with shared and/ or peculiar origins. groups creole genesis theories into four categories: :* ''Theories focusing on the European input'' :* ''Theories focusing on the non-European input'' :* ''Gradualist and Developmental linguistics, developmental hypotheses'' :* ''Universalist approaches'' The authors also confine Pidgins and mixed languages into separate chapters outside this scheme whether or not relexification come into the picture.


See also

* Chimwiini * Diglossia * Language contact * Kiswahili * Lingua franca * List of creole languages * Macaronic language * Middle English creole hypothesis * Nation language * Nicaraguan Sign Language * Post-creole continuum


Creoles by parent language

* Arabic-based creole languages * Assamese language, Assamese-based: Nagamese Creole, Nagamese * Chinese language, Chinese-based: Tangwang language, Tangwang * Dutch-based creole languages *
English-based creole languages An English-based creole language (often shortened to English creole) is a creole language Creole may refer to: Anthropology * Creole peoples, ethnic groups which originated from linguistic, cultural, and racial mixing between colonial-era em ...
*
French-based creole languages A French creole, or French-based creole language, is a creole language Creole may refer to: Anthropology * Creole peoples, ethnic groups which originated from linguistic, cultural, and racial mixing between colonial-era emigrants from Europe ...
* German language, German-based: Unserdeutsch language, Unserdeutsch * Hindi-based: Andaman Creole Hindi * Japanese language, Japanese-based: Yilan Creole Japanese, Kanbun, Kanbun Kundoku * Kongo language, Kongo-based: Kituba language, Kituba * Malay-based creole languages * Ngbandi language, Ngbandi-based: Sango * Portuguese-based creole languages * Spanish-based creole languages * Sinhala language, Sinhala-based: Vedda language


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *Wittmann, Henri (2001). "Lexical diffusion and the glottogenetics of creole French.
CreoList debate, parts I-VI, appendixes 1-9.
''The Linguist List'', Eastern Michigan University & Wayne State University. *


Further reading

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Wittmann, Henri (1999)

''The Creolist Archives Papers On-line'', Stockholms Universitet. * Wittmann, Henri (2001)

CreoList debate, parts I-VI, appendixes 1–9. ''The Linguist List'', Eastern Michigan University, Wayne State University


External links


International Magazine Kreol

Association of Portuguese and Spanish Lexically-based Creoles


*

at the Online Dictionary of Language Terminology (ODLT)
Louisiana Creole Dictionary

Society for Pidgin & Creole Linguistics

Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Language Structures (APiCS)


In French


Groupe Européen de Recherches en Langues Créoles
*
Associação Brasileira de Estudos Crioulos e Similares

Society for Caribbean Linguistics
{{DEFAULTSORT:Creole Language Pidgins and creoles, Linguistics terminology