The myth of creole “exceptionalism”

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Recently claims that the universalist approach to creole languages treats them as “exceptional” are misconceived. The only thing “exceptional” about creoles is the sociohistorical context within which creoles originated. Creoles utilize the same processes that are deployed during “normal” language acquisition: children form sentences according to inborn algorithms, then adjust the results to conform to structures encountered in input. “Normal” and creole-forming situations differ only in that in the latter, with reduced input, less adjustment is required. Since the same strategies apply wherever input falls below optimal, it is unsurprising that similar phenomena occur in “ordinary” language change and creolization. However, in creolization changes are simultaneous, and exact patterns of change repeat across multiple languages, while changes elsewhere are stochastic.


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