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4. Tense marking and inflectional morphology in Indo-Portuguese creoles

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Abstract

Some Indo-Portuguese creoles exhibit morphological patterns that are characteristic of inflecting languages such as Latin or Portuguese. Verb forms contain not only overt tense and aspect suffixes but also theme vowels which identify the conjugation class of the verb. The genuine theme vowels are meaningless inflectional units which make no contribution to the overall meaning of the verb. They are however an inherent part of the verbal paradigm and determine the shape of inflected verb forms. Because of the presence of genuine theme vowels, the inflectional paradigms of Indo-Portuguese make a clear distinction between roots, stems and suffixes. Both stems and suffixes also exhibit allomorphic shape alternations that are triggered solely by conjugation class distinctions.The question as to why verbal inflection survived in this small group of Indo-Portuguese creoles will be tentatively explored from the perspective of naturalistic adult second language learning. Based on the growing consensus that creole formation involves substantial L2 acquisition by adults, we examine the extent to which sociocultural and attitudinal factors may have had an effect on the L2 grammars that emerged in the early stages of contact between Portuguese and the substrate languages. It will be argued that Indo-Portuguese creoles were shaped by substrate speakers who, as a result of their favourable attitude towards the Target Language community, acquired a L2 variety with overt verbal inflection (or “Post-Basic Variety”).

References

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