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SLA AND THE EMERGENCE OF CREOLES

  • Salikoko S. Mufwene (a1)
Abstract

Although the emergence of creoles presupposes naturalistic SLA, current SLA scholarship does not shed much light on the development of creoles with regard to the population-internal mechanisms that produce normalization and autonomization from the creoles’ lexifiers. This is largely due to the fact that research on SLA is focused on individuals rather than on communities of speakers producing their own separate norms, whereas genetic creolistics deals precisely with this particular aspect of language change and speciation. It is not enough to prove that transfer from the first to the second language is possible and can evolve into substrate influence on the emergent vernaculars—transfer is not ineluctable and varies from one learner to another. Additionally, how and why particular features of some speakers spread to a whole population (or to parts thereof), whereas others do not, must be accounted for. Consistent with colonial socioeconomic history, the gradual emergence of creoles suggests a complex evolution that cannot be accounted for with simplistic invocations of either interlanguage or relexification. This article presents limitations in the cross-pollination that has been expected from genetic creolistics and research on SLA.

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*Address correspondence to: Salikoko S. Mufwene, University of Chicago, Department of Linguistics, 1010 E. 59th Street, Chicago, IL 60637; e-mail: s-mufwene@uchicago.edu.
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