Productive bimorphemic structures and the concept of gradual creolization

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In pidgin and creole (P/C) studies, ‘bimorphemic’ is normally associated with bimorphemic interrogatives (‘question words’). I demonstrate that these are merely part of a wider range of bimorphemic structures which play an important vocabulary-building role in P/Cs. I then discuss Arends’ (1989) concept of gradual creolization and claim that its importance lies in identifying the length of time it took P/Cs to attain grammatical consistency, during which these bimorphemic structures and many of the better known ‘typical creole features’ became established. Data from several creoles indicate that it required 150 years or more for grammatical consistency to be achieved. This suggests that ancestral languages were actively spoken alongside the emergent creole for far longer than has generally been supposed.


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