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The typology of Caribbean Creole reduplication

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Abstract

Although many aspects of Creole languages remain relatively unexplored, the morphology of Creole languages has been especially neglected. This is largely because it is still widely believed that Creoles have very little in the way of morphology, even compared to an inflection-poor language such as English. Moreover, the morphology that Creoles do have is often assumed to be quite similar from one Creole language to another and is further thought to be predictable and transparent. However, there is an emerging body of research on Pidgin and Creole morphology showing that the hypothesis of semantic transparency and regularity in Creole morphology does not stand up to scrutiny. The purpose of this paper is to explore the typological characteristics of morphological reduplication in Caribbean Creole (CC) languages, and to assess these characteristics against this background. To this purpose, we will examine reduplication in a sample of CC languages of different lexifiers (Dutch, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish), with respect to their form, semantics and distribution. Our research confirms that morphological reduplication is not uniform across these languages. Moreover, it shows that reduplication is surprisingly complex within a single language.

References

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