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2. The Spanish-based Creoles


Subject Linguistics » Typology
Sociolinguistics » Language Variation and Change

Key-Topics contact, variation

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405198820.2012.00004.x


As with any definition, the definition of a creole language, and its use to classify language varieties formed in contact situations, yields mixed results. In order to define what a creole language (or creole) is, we also need a definition of a pidgin language (or pidgin). A pidgin consists of speech forms that arise among speakers of two or more languages who need to communicate but do not share a common language. Over time, and depending on the nature of the interaction among the speakers of the different languages who are co-creating the pidgin, it may remain in an incipient phase in which speakers communicate using some rough conventions (e.g., a small set of common vocabulary), or it may progress further into a stable phase in which there is a conventionalized lexicon, as well as clear tense and aspect markers. At this stage, a pidgin is typically used for only certain functions, such as an in-group or trade language, or possibly as a lingua franca. If the contact situation supports it, a pidgin can also expand its functions, developing or adopting new vocabulary, increasing its range of expressions, and even undergoing standardization in order to be used as the language on radio, TV and/or in the print media. At this point, one speaks of an expanded phase of a pidgin (cf. Mühlhäusler 1986 ). One key difference generally acknowledged between a pidgin and a creole is that the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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