LINGUIST List 7.1551

Sat Nov 2 1996

Qs: Gaston Gross, [j] coronal, Creoles and Bickerton theory

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  1. Nancy Antrim, Gaston Gross (publication info)
  2. Sam Wang, Is [j] coronal?
  3. Kate Gladstone & Andrew Haber, question on creoles & other natural languages per Bickerton theory

Message 1: Gaston Gross (publication info)

Date: Thu, 31 Oct 1996 15:36:09 MST
From: Nancy Antrim <>
Subject: Gaston Gross (publication info)
I am hoping someone on the list can help me with a reference. A
colleague of mine gave me an article written in French by Gaston Gross
entitled Syntaxe du determinant possessif. Unfortunately the copy was
not dated nor could my colleague remember the publication it appeared
in. If anyone is familiar with this article and could tell me when and
where it was published I would appreciate it. Thank you.

Nancy Mae Antrim
Dept. of Languages and Linguistics
University of Texas at El Paso
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Message 2: Is [j] coronal?

Date: Wed, 30 Oct 1996 08:30:55 +0800
From: Sam Wang <>
Subject: Is [j] coronal?
Dear Linguist,

In SPE, the palatal glide [j] (or [y]) is specified as [-coronal]
(p. 176), but many other linguists such as Ladefoged (A Course in
Phonetics, 3rd ed,p. 44) and Kenstowicz (Phonology in Generative
Grammar, p.31) consider it [+coronal].

My question is: since [j] corresponds to the vowel [i] in its place
of articulation, should [i] be considered as [+coronal] as well if
[j] is [+coronal]?


 H. Samuel Wang 
 Department of Foreign Languages
 National Tsing Hua University
 Hsin-Chu 300 Taiwan
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Message 3: question on creoles & other natural languages per Bickerton theory

Date: Sat, 02 Nov 1996 01:21:07 EST
From: Kate Gladstone & Andrew Haber <>
Subject: question on creoles & other natural languages per Bickerton theory
Hello -- I have a question on Bickerton's theory, specifically

 -1- his statements that creole grammar represents natural
"default settings" (for natural-language grammar), that reveal
themselves in the absence of other consistent over-riding
grammatical inputs


-2- his statements (or implications) that creole grammar
represents a phylogenetically earlier stage of language
development, post-dating the very beginnings of language (which
he sees as pidgin-like) & pre-dating later natural languages
which usually do not have 100% creole grammar.

If creole grammar evolves among all children exposed to pidgin
(or pidgin-like Homo erectus (?) pre-language) as their native
language ...

and if creole grammar is a sort of "default setting" for human
grammar that persists unless & until it is eventually over-ridden
by a differently grammared set of inputs (i.e., another language
with different grammar) ...

Than how could languages with non-creole grammar (i.e., most of
the world's languages) ever have developed out of languages with
creole grammar in the first place?


-1- Bickerton says somewhere that a sentence like "I no see
nobody" (for "I see nobody" or "I don't see anybody") is an
example of creole grammar popping out in a child's
English-language acquisition -- & that this is why children
create & persistently use such sentences for many years, despite
all the surrounding adult English-speakers' examples (and
corrections) to the contrary. So ...

-2- To Bickerton, a small child's sentence like "I no see nobody"
reflects a grammar which would have been considered -- at some
earlier stage of humans' evolution into "languaged" creatures --

NOT "creoles' grammar", NOT "baby-talk" for parents to try &
"correct", NOT "broken English (or "broken -whatever- "), but ...

just the way *everybody* talked -- perhaps 50,000 years ago -- in
some lost creole-like precursor of all later languages (including
all the NON-creole languages). If so ...

-3- then where/how/why, pray tell, did all the non-creole natural
languages get all their *non*-creole grammatical
baggage?... since (at whatever time this happened), Bickerton's
theory tells us that everybody grew up hearing only creole-like
grammar -- i.e., grammar which was at NO point in conflict with
any human-language "default-setting", because it was created by
brains which were "languaging" on the basis of those
default-settings with NO other grammatical input.

In other words -- how and WHY (according to Bickerton's views)
could/did an early creole-like language evolve into something as
very NON-creole in its grammar as (say) PIE or Proto-Semitic?
What would/could have been the mechanism that allowed (and/or
encouraged) this?

Yours for better letters,

Kate Gladstone
Handwriting Repair
325 South Manning Boulevard
Albany, NY 12208-1731

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