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Grammaticalization from a Typological Perspective$
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Heiko Narrog and Bernd Heine

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795841

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198795841.001.0001

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Is grammaticalization in creoles different?

Is grammaticalization in creoles different?

(p.394) 19 Is grammaticalization in creoles different?
Grammaticalization from a Typological Perspective

John H. McWhorter

Oxford University Press

Most work on creoles and grammaticalization has focused on creoles’ calquing of grammaticalizations in their source languages, which is of little import to scholars of grammaticalization itself. Beyond this, arguments that creoles emerge not from pidgins but from the same kind of language mixture that yields other languages has discouraged any sense that creoles’ grammaticalizations are of any particular interest. I argue here that this sense is mistaken. There is indeed no kind of grammaticalization particular to creole languages. However, grammaticalization has taken place at a much more rapid rate, and has been more prolific, in creoles than in older languages, as can be seen in how much of Saramaccan’s grammatical machinery is traceable to grammaticalization after the language’s emergence. I propose that the reason for this proliferation is that creoles originally, even as full languages, have more ‘space’ for the emergence of new items because of their origin in second-language acquisition of a highly substractive nature—i.e. what many analysts would term ‘pidginization’.

Keywords:   creole, pidginization, grammaticalization, substrate transfer, copula

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