Complexification or regularization of paradigms

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In Honiara, capital city of the Solomon Islands, speakers of the local variety of Pijin are making extensive usage of the transitive suffix -em (and its variants -im and -um) to transform prepositions into prepositional verbs: daon /down/ becomes daonem /to lower/; ap /up/ becomes apum /to raise/; insaet /inside/ becomes insaetim /to insert, to take inside/; aot /out/ becomes aotim /to remove/, etc. Looking at data gathered in Honiara since 1981, this paper will hypothesize that the formation of prepositional verbs in Solomon Island Pijin (SIP) is best understood as an instance of paradigmatic regularization that is also present in other parts of the morphosyntax. The paper will argue that: (1) simplification and complexification are not the only types of linguistic changes affecting the life of PCs (Pidgin and Creole language); and (2) that regularization is internally-induced, and may not be linked to any substrate or superstrate effect.


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