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Substrate Influence in Hawai'i Creole English

Jeff Siegel
Language in Society
Vol. 29, No. 2 (Jun., 2000), pp. 197-236
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4169002
Page Count: 40
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Substrate Influence in Hawai'i Creole English
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Abstract

Since the 1970s, it has been assumed that the diverse languages of plantation laborers in Hawai'i had little effect on the development of Hawai'i Creole English (HCE); this view supported theories that emphasize the role of innate linguistic universals in creolization. But recent research has revealed (a) widespread bilingualism among locally born children of laborers before HCE emerged, and (b) the dominance of two ethnic groups at the time -- the Chinese and Portuguese. This article re-examines the issue of substrate influence in HCE by concentrating on these two groups. Socio-historical and linguistic evidence is presented to show the likelihood that the Cantonese and Portuguese substrates reinforced and expanded various features of existing pidgins that had diffused to Hawai'i. Portuguese also appears to be the origin of several key features of HCE which differ from those of other creoles. The implications of these findings for universalist theories of creole genesis are discussed.

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