The differentiation of the Afro-Caribbean English-lexicon Creoles

Ouidah (Benin)

The Afro-Caribbean English-lexicon Creoles form one of the largest and youngest linguistic families of the Western hemisphere. Genetic and areal forces function as push and pull factors in the ongoing differentiation of the family.

I have been gathering data from various English-lexicon creoles in West Africa and the Caribbean, as well as from a cross-section of West African languages (see map of field research locations). In focusing on particular aspects such as tone systems, locative constructions, and modality, I explore questions like the following ones: How has continuous contact of the African creoles with African languages and differing degrees of contact with the lexicon-providing language English contributed to differentiation from the Caribbean creoles? Which differences may be attributed to internal development? Detailed investigations of the fate of particular features across this relatively young language family could allow conclusions about the general mechanisms of genealogical differentiation and the role of language contact in this process.


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