15. <i>A la recherche du "superstrat"</i>: What North American French can and cannot tell us about the input to creolization
Within the field of French creolistics it is above all Robert Chaudenson who, in various publications, has emphasized that a better knowledge of the “marginal Frenches” in North America may help to answer certain questions concerning the European input into creolization. On the basis of data collected for a research project on the varieties of Acadian French I will try to show that a closer investigation of Acadian French does indeed shed light on the language spoken by the settlers, one major component of the “feature pool” (Mufwene) accessible to the slaves, and thus provides the source of numerous specific creole forms and structures.Apart from being a linguistic “window to the past”, the varieties of North American French enable us to discern areas within French grammar that are particularly prone to intrasystemic changes. The question, however, remains as to what extent the phenomena observed in Acadian French can be usefully applied in explaining the creolization process, especially since some of the developments that are particularly interesting from a creolist’s point of view are rather recent. On the basis of some examples, I will show that the heuristic value of a close examination of marginal Frenches lies above all in retracing the source of specific formal, functional and semantic peculiarities of creole languages; creolization itself, however, implies restructuring processes that go far beyond those that marginal Frenches have undergone in the course of time.