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How non-Indo-European is Fanakalo pidgin?

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Abstract

Fanakalo is a southern African pidgin whose main lexifier is Zulu, a non-Indo-European language, and whose genesis lies with Europeans as “imperfect learners” and Africans as “superstrate speakers” in the 19th CE. The question can therefore be raised whether this reversal of social relations and the identity of those who were doing the initial language learning and pidgin creation resulted in a typological reversal too (compared to, say, Caribbean contact varieties). The answer appears to be in the affirmative. The question can also be raised how non-Indo-European this pidgin is. This time the answer is less clear: while the vocabulary is largely from Southern Bantu, its grammar resembles a basic English, or – more plausibly – a basic analytic SVO code.

References

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