The invisible hand in creole genesis

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This paper considers the historical context in which Berbice Dutch was formed before turning to the significance of the presence in that language of function words derived from the Eastern Ịjọ substrate. The view that transfer of Eastern Ịjọ grammatical properties took place in the formation of Berbice Dutch, is subjected to detailed scrutiny for tense-mood-aspect marking and negation. Despite similarities, important areas of divergence or discontinuity between Berbice Dutch and its substrate are identified – areas which point to reanalysis of substrate-derived functional material in the genesis of Berbice Dutch. This runs counter to the view that Eastern Ịjọ speakers played a central role in the formation of Berbice Dutch, and suggests that ‘the invisible hand’ in its genesis must have been another group, possibly the mixed progeny of the plantation population, which included Dutch, Eastern Ịjọ and Arawak speakers.


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