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Identifying the Creole Prototype: Vindicating a Typological Class

John H. McWhorter
Language
Vol. 74, No. 4 (Dec., 1998), pp. 788-818
DOI: 10.2307/417003
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/417003
Page Count: 31
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Identifying the Creole Prototype: Vindicating a Typological Class
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Abstract

An increasingly influential current in creole studies considers there to have been no appreciable break in transmission or simplification in the birth of creole languages, instead treating creoles as gradual, relatively nondisruptive developments of their lexifiers amidst conditions of heavy language contact. Central to this superstratist view is the claim that creole is a sociohistorical, but not synchronic, term. This article outlines three features which in fact render creoles synchronically distinguishable from other languages, all three of them clear results of a break in transmission followed by a development period too brief for the traits to be undone as they have been in older languages. It is also shown that an expanded data set reveals flaws in the sociohistorical argumentation behind the superstratist framework.

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