The simplicity of creoles in a cross-linguistic perspective

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This paper discusses the possibility of quantifying complexity in languages in general, and in creoles in particular. It argues that creoles are indeed different from non-creoles, primarily in being less complex. While this has been argued before, this is the first attempt to prove it through the use of an extensive typological database. It is noteworthy that the diff ering complexity is not related to the relative lack of morphology in creoles, since they are also simpler than analytical languages. Finally, the parallels between pidgins and creoles (and in particular the fact that languages sociologically intermediate between the two categories are also structurally intermediate) support the increasingly questioned belief that pidgins are born out of pidgins.


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