Economy, innovation and degrees of complexity in creole formation

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This paper explores the idea that in contact situations, there exists a process whereby so-called morpho-syntactic simplification is correlated to semantic complexification. In examining this process in the verbal and nominal domains, we show that a given morpheme may actually carry in Cape Verdean Creole (CVC) and Guinea-Bissau Creole (GBC) a cluster of semantic feature values where the European language only has one. In order to measure degrees of simplification versus complexification, this paper uses Kusters’ (2003) complexity evaluation metrics involving inflectional morphology specifically. This paper also shows to what extent two sister creoles such as CVC and GBC, assumed to have emerged from the same source languages, display similarities and distinct differences in their morphological properties.


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