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The Scarcity of Spanish-Based Creoles Explained

John H. McWhorter
Language in Society
Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 213-244
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4168602
Page Count: 32
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The Scarcity of Spanish-Based Creoles Explained
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Abstract

Most explanations for the scarcity of Spanish-based creoles have appealed to sociological factors. This article shows that, on the contrary, three historical factors determined the current distribution. First, the Spanish only began cultivating sugar after a century of concentrating on crops requiring smaller plantations; this allowed fuller acquisition of Spanish by the slaves, who then served as models for later arrivals. Second, the Spanish often took over areas formerly occupied by the Portuguese, thus encountering a previously existent pidgin. Third, the Spanish did not establish trade settlements in West Africa, where a Spanish pidgin could have emerged and been transported to the New World. These factors together manifested Spain's low commitment to establishing vigorously capitalistic enterprises in its possessions until the 19th century, which can be seen as the ultimate impediment to the pidginization of Spanish.

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