Volume 28, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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This paper revisits the debate between Bickerton on the one hand and Seuren, Corne, Coleman and Curnow on the other on the question of whether serial verb constructions exist in the French creoles of the Indian Ocean (namely Seychelles Creole and Mauritian Creole). It examines data particularly from Mauritian Creole (which was rather marginally represented in that discussion) and argues in agreement with Bickerton (1989, 1996) that serial verbs do indeed exist in this creole just as they do in Seychelles Creole. However, it also argues that their presence in these languages must be attributed not to an innate linguistic mechanism (as claimed in Bickerton 1989, 1996) nor to a substrate source (contra Corne et al. 1996, Corne 1999) but to an independent internal development in which consecutive imperatives were reanalyzed as serial verb constructions. It is assumed that, given the socio-historical nature of creole contact situations, consecutive imperatives would have been a prominent part of early input as interchanges between those who spoke French and those who did not would have mostly been in the form of directives (commands, instructions, etc.) which are more often than not expressed through the imperative . However, it is recognized that this development could have benefited from substrate (particularly Malagasy) influence but it remains in the main the result of an internal diachronic process. The proposal outlined has interesting implications for the role of input and the role that adults may have played in the development of creole languages in general and serial verb constructions in particular. Some aspects of creole languages, it is suggested, can be adequately accounted for without having to implicate either an innate linguistic mechanism or wholesale transfer from substrate sources.


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