The creole continuum and individual agency

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This paper analyses creolisms in a set of conversations among educated Jamaicans. It focuses on morphology and syntax but lexis is also considered. Two different approaches are applied: a quantitative approach in the framework of the creole continuum and a qualitative, interaction-based approach. The quantitative approach is useful to locate the set of data within the continuum – between the upper mesolect and the high acrolect – and to determine the relative “creoleness” of different features. The qualitative approach focuses on the fine details of variation within the data such as code-switching and helps to explain speakers’ choices. The paper concludes that the creole continuum and individual agency complement each other as approaches to stylistic variation in Jamaican speech.


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