The evolution of language and elaborateness of grammar

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Starting from the assumption that creole languages present an opportunity for testing hypotheses on the evolution of complexity in language, we examine the number of markers used to construct relative clauses, more specifically in relativization on subjects. On the basis of a sample of 52 creole languages, we show that such languages more often than not have simply marked relative clause constructions, encoded by no more than one relativization marker. This typological result stands out as particularly significant if we view it against the background of non-creole languages, for which we have been able to identify cases with up to five relativization markers. Keywords: Relative clause; creole languages; language contact; language evolution


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