Session 1

A discussion concerning 'relexification' in creole genesis and its implication for the semantic relations between creoles and their base languages
(Jürgen Lang, Erlangen)

For many creolists, it’s not their functioning, but their emergence which is specific to creole languages. So far, the main focus has been on the genesis of their grammar (including syntax), and of lexical items with a signifiant going back to a L1 of the creolisers. The emergence of the phonology and lexical semantics of creole languages is not less interesting, though. Concerning the lexical semantics of creoles, it is noticeable that the meanings of words which, materially, appear to be a clear continuation of base language items often differ more or less significantly from the meanings of these base language items. It can be taken for granted that in each case, various factors prove as responsible for these differences. There are shifts of meaning we can trace back to situational misunderstanding, for example when pg. fácil became fáxi in the Capeverdian creole of Santiago and, while doing so, extended its meaning from ‘easy’ to include ‘fast’ as well. There are shifts of meaning we can trace back to the application of base language lexicon to exotic realities, for example pg. cabo meaning 'cape' became kábu, káu, meaning 'place' in Santiago creole – probably this is because in earlier times, the only access to the Capeverdian islands was from the coast and the capes served as land-marks for orientation. Finally, there are words which emerged from close contact with the non-European L1 languages of the creolisers. Here we have to distinguish at least two possible cases: In the case of so-called conflation or convergence, the material similarity of a base language item with a word of the respective L1 can lead to a partial identification. For example, pg. lombo meaning ‘someones back’ could have become the Santiago creole word bónbu bánbu, bunbu, meaning ‘to carry on one’s back’, under the influence of the Mankanya and Manjaku word bamb with the same meaning. In the case of so-called relexification, an overlapping of the use of a base language item and that of an L1 item leads to a semantic approximation to the latter; for example, the Santiago creole so meaning ‘alone’ disposes of meanings not known for its portuguese etymon pg.so, but very common for wolof rekk, ‘alone’. Explanations following one or the other model generally do not exclude each other. In fact, things are even much more complicated, since the signifiant of a creole is also a result of creoliziation. Neither its phonological structure nor its syntagmatic borders do necessarily coincide with those of the base language etymon.

Preparatory Reading:

  • Koch, Peter (1993), “Kyenbé - tyonbo. Wurzeln kreolischer Lexik”, in: Neue Romania 14, 259-287.
  • Koch, Peter (2009), “Pragmatik und Kognition.Gedanken zur Genese kreolischer Lexik”, Contribution to a colloquium at Erlangen (20.02.09).
  • Lang, Jürgen (2008), “Explications universelles et explications historiques. Les emplois de so en créole santiagais”, in: Stark, Elisabeth; Schmidt-Riese, Roland; Stoll, Eva (eds.) Romanische Syntax im Wandel, Tübingen: Narr, p. 487-497.
  • Lang, Jürgen (2009), Les langues des autres dans la créolisation. Théorie et exemplification par le créole d’empreinte wolof à l’île Santiago du Cap Vert, Tübingen: Narr.
  • Lefebvre, Claire (2001), “Relexification in creole genesis and its effects on the development of the creole”, in: Smith, Norval;Veenstra, Tonjes (eds.), Creolization and contact, Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: Benjamins, p. 9-42.
  • Lumsden, John S.(1999), “Language acquisition and creolization”, in: DeGraff, Michel (ed.), Language creation and language change: Creolization, diachrony, and development, Cambridge, MA – London: MIT Press, p. 129-157.
  • Quint, Nicolas (2008), L'élément africain dans la langue capverdienne, Paris: L'Harmattan.
  • Rougé, Jean-Louis (1999), “Apontamentos sobre o léxico de origem africana dos crioulos da Guiné e de Cabo Verde (Santiago)”, in: Zimmermann, Klaus (ed.), Lenguas criollas de base lexical española y portuguesa, Frankfurt a. Main – Madrid: Vervuert – Iberoamericana, p. 49-65.
  • Thomason, Sarah G. (2001b), Language contact. An introduction, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Session 2

Metaphorical and metonymical expressions of quantity: universal beaten paths vs. (single) creole particularities
(Elissa Pustka, Munich)

Quantity is a semantic domain predestined to exaggeration and understatement, making it a center of attraction for linguistic innovation (Koch/Oesterreicher 1996), e.g. gua. zong SMALL QUANTITY < fr. ongle ‘fingernail’. Previous research on Romance languages (Deutschmann 1936, Koch 2005) has shown that these innovations are not as innovative as they might seem at first view, but that they originate mainly from three source domains: 1) the human and his environment (human body, eating & drinking, space, nature), 2) contexts of quantification (agriculture, stock, transport & commerce, numbers & measures, cooking), 3) emotions (swear words). On the basis of a large amount of data from French-based Creoles, Papiamentu and Caboverde, the session will deal with the question whether all Creoles follow the same ‘beaten paths’ and whether these are the same as those of their Romance lexifiers. The data so far shows that the borrowings and innovations found in the Creoles entirely correspond to the concept metaphors and metonymies of the lexifiers, which may be universal (e.g. hait. zikak < fr. icaque (fruit) for ZERO QUANTITY, cf. Rhaeto-Romanic negation particle betg(a) < lat. bacca(m) ‘berry’; réu. in palanké < fr. palanquée ‘shipload’ for BIG QUANTITY; cf. fr. cargaison). Compared to their lexifiers, the number of quantity words listed in the dictionaries is by far lower for the Creoles as is the number of exploited source domains. E.g., we cannot find expressions derived from emotionally charged concepts such as sp. una barbaridad de, pt. um horror de, fr. terriblement de, etc. This asymmetry is surprising, considering that innovations in the quantity domain originate from expressive orality, and that Creoles are mainly oral languages, whose evolution (at least for a long time) has not been slowed down by prescriptive norm and literacy. However, the generally small vocabulary of the Creoles suggests that the difference is due to their youth (which is supposed to be responsible for their less complex grammar, too; McWhorter 2001, Parkvall 2008). Apart from the three source domains of the lexifiers, no supplementary domains could be found in the Creoles that could have come from African, Caribbean or Asian culture or from the exceptional contact situation during the period of creolization.

Session 3

Syntactical Analysis of Spoken and Written Papiamentu (PAP)
(Bettina Lämmle, Mannheim)

Syntactical structures of Creole languages have always received a lot attention in the scientific world and studies done on Papiamentu take the same line (e.g. Muysken, Pieter/ Kouwenberg, Silvia 1992; Kouwenberg, Silvia/ Lefebvre, Claire 2007; Lefebvre, Claire/ Therrien, Isabelle 2007; Van Putte, Florimon/ García, Erica C. 1990; Kouwenberg, Silvia 1990). Considering that Papiamentu represents a Creole language that is both, spoken and written, and shows an elaboration process throughout several scopes, there is at least one syntactical aspect left for analysis: This session tries to figure out if Papiamentu shows significant differences in its syntactical structures regarding the written versus the spoken language. In this context we will not only talk about Ausbau of languages and the distinction of orality and literacy, but also about the various usages of sentence structures in different types of texts. As this session is meant to be interactive, participants are highly welcome to present and refer to their own work on syntactical structures during discussions.

  • Kouwenberg, Silvia (1990): “Complementizer PA, the finiteness of its complements, and some remarks on empty categories in Papiamento”, in: Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, 5:1, S.39-51.
  • Kouwenberg, Silvia/ Lefebvre, Claire (2007): “A New Analysis of the Papiamentu Clause Structure”, in: Probus. International Journal of Latin and Romance Linguistics, Bd.19(1).
  • Lefebvre, Claire/ Therrien, Isabelle (2007): “The Multiple Facets of Papiamentu ku”, in: Creolica, 20.01.07 (online).
  • Muysken, Pieter & Kouwenberg, Silvia (1992): “On the typology of clauses in Papiamentu”, Universiteit van Amsterdam.
  • Van Putte, Florimon/ García, Erica C. (1990): “Where there is a message there is a way: KU versus NULL in Papiamentu”, in: Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, 5:2, S.187-222.

Session 4

Verb phrase in Cape-Verdean Creole of São Vicente: problems and finding
(Dominika Swolkien, Mindelo/Coimbra)

Recently, Cape Verdean Creole (CVC) has received a considerable attention within the area of creolistics and the number of fine-grained descriptions and analysis on CVC has been growing steadily (cf. Lang et al. 2002, Baptista 2002, Pratas 2006, and Märzhäuser 2009). However, the overwhelming majority of the contemporary publications have focused on the Sotavento varieties of CVC while the Barlavento dialects have remained largely undocumented and unknown.

This presentation will focus on the Barlavento variety of CVC spoken on the island of São Vicente. The goal of the session is three-fold. Firstly, the socio-historic scenario of the genesis of Cape Verdean Creole of São Vicente (CCSV) will be briefly presented. Secondly, basing on the data collected during extensive field work I will present basic features of the CCSV verb phrase such as the interpretation of unmarked verbs, imperative constructions, the use of epistemic verbs, passivization strategies, and verbal negation. Finally, I will focus on presenting the most problematic issues related to CCSV verb phrase such as copula and TMA markers interpretation of which is particularly challenging due to their multifunctional nature. I will also present cases of suppletion and inflection-like verb forms, a feature uncommon in world’s creoles and that distinguishes CCSV from the basilectal Sotavento varieties suggesting different degrees of restructuring in the varieties of CVC.

Session 5

Creole prosody
(Kofi Yakpo, Nijmegen/Berlin)

Advances in the study of the prosody of Atlantic Creole languages have revealed prosodic systems, in which the traditional division into prosodic types like stress, pitch-accent and tone languages appears to be blurred: We find typologically mixed systems that unite features from two, even three of these types (cf. e.g. Alleyne 1980, Berry 1971, Devonish 1998, 2002; Faraclas 1987; Finney 2004; Fyle 1971; Good 2004, 2006; Jones 1990; Rivera Castillo 1998; Rivera Castillo and Faraclas 2005; Rountree 1972a). For example, Papiamentu (Dutch Antilles) has been described as a language that uses both stress and tone (Rivera Castillo 1998) and Nigerian Pidgin as a language that employs stress, pitch-accent and tone (Faraclas 1984; 1996). Additionally, many of these languages, e.g. Pichi (Yakpo 2009) and Santomense (Maurer 2008), appear to feature a stratified lexicon, in which individual words are classified as pitch-accented or tonal. Mixed systems appear to be particularly common with Creoles that have maintained a considerable African lexical component and thrived in relative isolation from non-tonal languages such as Saramaccan in Surinam (Good 2004, 2006) and the Portuguese-lexifier Creoles of the Gulf of Guinea islands like Santomense (Maurer 2008) and Fa d’Ambo (Post 1994). Mixed systems are also found with virtually all English-lexifier Creoles of West Africa – hence languages which are in direct contact with tone languages. In the latter group, we find languages like Krio (e.g. Finney 2004), Nigerian Pidgin (Faraclas 1996) and Pichi (Yakpo 2009). The evidence is gathering that residual tone systems also typify languages that had previously been assumed to exhibit pure stress or pitch-accent systems, for example African American Vernacular English (e.g. Spears 2008) and Sranan (Smith & Adamson 2006). It therefore remains to be seen whether the prosodic systems of the French-lexifier Atlantic Creoles are also as ‘toneless’ as they are commonly assumed to be (cf. e.g. Brousseau 2003 for Haitian Creole). Mixed prosodic systems are not only highly unusual from a typological perspective. They also point to the intrinsically mixed character of Creole languages in general. Like in other structural areas, we seem to find the usual mix of substrate, lexifier and universal-typological forces at play in the design of these prosodic systems. In this session, I will first present an overview of prosodic typology by relying descriptions of the the prosodic systems of a number of Atlantic Creole languages. Secondly, I will present a detailed analysis of the mixed prosodic system of Pichi, the English-lexifier Creole of Equatorial Guinea by drawing on field data. Participants are highly welcome to refer to and present their own ongoing work on Creole prosody during discussions.

Session 6

Imposition and Innovation in Phonology: Prominence systems in Crioulo and wolophone French
(Noël Bernard, Paris/Dakar & Uli Reich, Berlin)

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue: With these words coined for a happy wedding characterizes Derek Bickerton (2002) the complex processes of language change that form the grammar of creole languages. Older approaches tried to unterstand creole languages as being a sort of a cocktail mixed of some african grammar with european words, in the case of atlantic creoles. Research in the past decades (Hopper & Traugott 22003, Neumann- Holzschuh & Schneider 2000) suggests, however, that grammar in creole languages does not only rise by imposition of the grammatical rules from substrate languages, but by innovative grammaticalization – seemingly out of the blue, but constrained by cognitive principles and „natural“ grammatical preferences. In our talk, we will try to show the difference between contact based phonology and creole innovative phonology on the grounds of facts from a set of languages spoken in Senegal. The phonology of Dakar French, a contact variety spoken as a second language by Wolof native speakers, can be explained on the grounds of the Wolof metrical system. On the other hand, the portuguese based creole language still spoken in the village Sinedone in Basse Casamance close to the border with Guinea-Bissau shows phonological facts which seem to be independent from the phonologies of the surrounding languages.

  • Bickerton, Derek (2002): “Sobre los pretendidos portuguesismos de la lengua palenquera”, in: Moñino, Yves & Armin Schwegler (eds.): Palenque, Cartagena y Afro-Caribe: Historia y lengua, Tübingen: Niemeyer, 35-42.
  • Hopper, Paul & Elizabeth Closs Traugott (22003): Grammaticalization, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Neumann-Holzschuh, Ingrid & Edgar W. Schneider (eds.) (2000): Degrees of restructuring in Creole Languages, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Session 7

A comparative and problem-orientated approach to nouniness, nominal categorization and noun phrase constituency in Creole languages
(Monika Sokol, Bamberg/Bayreuth)

Ever since the grammars of Creoles have come to constitute dignified objects of scientific attention, verbs, verb phrases and verbal categories seem to have received more of it than their nominal systems. Beginning with the late 1990, however, the interest in aspects of nominal constituency and noun phrase organization in Creoles and in Creole genesis has apparently risen (cf. Baptista, Guéron eds. 2007, to give just one example). This session, therefore, is designed to pay tribute to this development and to relate respective new findings with the typology of word classes, nouns, nominal subclasses, nominal categories and the syntactic make-up of noun or determiner phrases in general. As it is meant to be as interactive and to adapt as much as possible to the specific needs and interests of its participants, I would ask you to read the articles and passages listed below in advance and to contact me via email (Monika.Sokol@uni-bayreuth.de) in order to let me know what your research focuses are and what Creoles you're particularly familiar with or interested in. Please bring in empirical material and your specific competence or view on the above mentioned topics, too.

Prepatory reading:

  • Stark, Elisabeth; Elisabeth Leiss; Werner Abraham (2007): “Introduction”, in: Stark, Leiss, Abraham: Nominal Determination. Typology, context constraints and historical emergence, Benjamins, 1-20
  • Baptista, Marlyse; Jacqueline Guéron (eds.) (2007), Noun Phrases in Creole Languages. A multi-faceted approach, Benjamins
  • Baptista, Marlyse; Jacqeline Guéron, “Noun phrases in creole languages: An introductory overview”, 3-34
  • Baptista, Marlyse, “Properties of noun phrases in creole languages. A synthetic comparative exposition”, 461-470
  • Baptista, Marlyse; Jacqeline Guéron, “Functional deficiency, ellipsis or innovation in creole languages? A postface”, 471-484

Last modified: 2015/12/28 18:38