Creoles and Typology
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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That creole languages resemble each other beyond the diversity of their lexifiers and formative environments is a fact. Similarity should not be overstated, however, as creole languages also differ from each other in important ways. Hence the fundamental issues of creole studies: why are Creoles similar and what makes them different? What kind of a language group do they constitute? A genetic family they certainly are not, nor are they a typological group: creole languages do not constitute a type of their own. Assuming universal grammar viewed as a language bioprogram (LB) to be the principle of creole similarity strongly overstates this similarity. Moreover there are reasons to doubt the reality of the LB. Actually the kind of partial similarities exhibited by creole languages looks rather like what languages in a sprachbund or linguistic area have in common. How can languages scattered all over the world constitute an area, though? An answer is proposed in this study, which rests on two assumptions. First, creole languages constitute a virtual (non-spatial) area by virtue of their very similar origins, namely strong punctuations (catastrophes in a technical sense) involving Basic Variety (pidgin) episodes. Secondly, the (by no means necessary) aftermath of the catastrophe was an exceptional and limited repairing recourse to default grammar, whereby is meant a non-innate (at least not genetically coded), usage-based organization of the sound-meaning interface ensuring semantic transparency, that is the most direct mapping possible given (a) the organization of language sound; (b) the nature of meaning; (c) human preferred ways of associating forms and notions, also relevant for drawing, tool making, and so forth. Beyond that, creole languages are free to differ according to their lexifiers, substrates, adstrates, and so forth.


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