Typologizing grammatical complexities

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An important theme in work attempting to situate creoles with respect to non-creoles typologically is the extent to which it can be said that creole grammars are relatively simple from a cross-linguistic perspective. Work arguing for and against this position has generally focused on an examination of the synchronic grammars of creoles in order to show that they are either simple or complex in one way or another. By contrast, there has not been a detailed examination of two important related questions: How can we typologize grammatical complexities themselves? And, once we have typologized them, will we find that different types of complexities are affected differently during creolization? This paper examines these questions and proposes that distinguishing between complexities derived from paradigmatic structure as opposed to syntagmatic structure may yield important insights into apparent patterns of simplicity within creoles, in particular with respect to which complexities we might expect to be readily transferred from source languages into an emerging creole.


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