Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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Bickerton's bioprogram hypothesis uses serial verbs as a primary demonstration that Saramaccan represents the closest approximation to Universal Grammar extant, judging from the fact that speakers of mutually unintelligible West African languages formulated it with little contact with European languages. Closer examination of Saramaccan and its substrate languages suggests, however, that the creole is a prime demonstration of substrate influence. The uniformity of serials across the substrate languages can be shown to have provided the opportunity for compromise between the small differences in the constructions in forming the language, according to perceptual saliency relative to the languages involved. A survey of serializing language families shows that serials in Saramaccan are most similar to those in its substrate, while a survey of créoles around the world shows that serials appear in créoles with similar substrates and almost never in those with nonserializing substrates. Furthermore, the explanation of serials as compensation for missing categories in Saramaccan is belied by an evaluation of this argument as applied to prepositions, which shows that the Saramaccan system mirrors that of its substrate with limited accommodations to its superstrate.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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