Substrate influences in Kriyol

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Kriyol is a Portuguese-related creole language spoken in Guinea-Bissau (former Portuguese Guinea) and Senegalese Casamance. Besides being the primary language of an important community, it also serves as a lingua franca in a multilingual country where Portuguese, although being the official language, actually has little currency. Kriyol counts among the oldest Creoles in the world, having emerged probably during the sixteenth century from a pidginised variety of Portuguese used by the local intermediaries (grumetes) between the few Portuguese settlers and the local populations. Given this situation, one would expect a high degree of substrate influence. In fact, substrate influence, although readily visible, turns out to be limited as can be shown by comparing core grammatical phenomena between Kriyol and a selection of local languages (Balanta, Diola, Manjaku, Mankanya). It is proposed that the main reasons for such a limitation are (1) that the creole-creating grumetes soon formed a tightly united group with its own culture; and (2) that they were perfectly bilingual in Kriyol and one or several local languages, therefore able to keep their grammars separate.


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