[Part III. Morphology, and interfaces, The loss and survival of inflectional morphology]

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Although recent evidence has shown that creoles are not exempt from overt inflectional morphology, little is yet known about the exact range of inflectional categories expressed by creoles. A detailed analysis of the verbal paradigm of Korlai Creole Portuguese reveals that verbs encode conjugation classes but no subject agreement endings. The same inflectional development has taken place in two more Indo-Portuguese creoles, namely Daman and Diu Creole Portuguese, casting serious doubts on the traditional claim that creoles discard semantically dispensable units. In order to understand why creoles select purely formal inflectional categories, this paper draws on the distinction, formulated by Booij (1994, 1996), between inherent and contextual inflection. Based on this distinction, I argue that the retention of conjugation class markers vs. the loss of agreement endings can be subsumed under a wider generalisation about creole languages, namely their preference for inherent rather than contextual inflection (Kihm 2003; Arends et al. 2006; Plag 2008a). Key words: Korlai Creole Portuguese; creole inflection; theme vowels; inherent inflection; contextual inflection


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