LINGUIST List 7.1721

Fri Dec 6 1996

Sum: Creolistics

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  •, Summary: creolistics queries

    Message 1: Summary: creolistics queries

    Date: Wed, 04 Dec 1996 10:12:11 EST
    From: <>
    Subject: Summary: creolistics queries
    I posted the following queries:

    In the debate over the creole status of Afrikaans, it has been asserted that Afrikaans is a "creoloid," and that the transmission preceding/feeding its generation was "bent, but not broken."

    To which scholar(s) are these two notions attributable? and With whom does the term 'fusion language' originate, and does it apply strictly to Yiddish?

    Thanks to all who corresponded:

    S.Thomason L.Cseresnyesi A.F. Gupta E.Prince G.Stegman J.Allen E.Vriends K.Battarbee A.Fraser P.Baker

    I received very detailed contents from several scholars. I submit here the following points as a summary of responses:


    Weinreich, M. 1980. History of the Yiddish language. Trans. by Fishman, J. and Noble, S. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

    To my knowledge, Max Weinreich (father of Uriel Weinreich and an eminent Yiddishist in his time) coined the term and applied it to Yiddish alone.

    Ellen F. Prince ****

    The expression _fusion language_ was used about Yiddish by Max Weinreich even before WW II in an article written after the war.

    S. ROMAINE _Pidgin & Creole Languages_ Longman, 1988:47ff. for a convenient summary of the problem (as well as for references).

    I believe, _mixed language_ and _fusion language_ are pre-theoretical terms, i.e. they have no technical definition. In other words, if you develop a typology of mixture, you are free to define their meanings.

    Why does anyone need such a typology? One reason may be that there are languages which have an extraordinary amount of lexical and grammatical features derivable from quite diverse sources, e.g. Yiddish. In the absence of a clear structural definition of _creole_, Yiddish does not qualify as a creole language, since the sociolinguistic pattern of its genesis is different from prototypical creoles, cf. Fishman (1987): *Post-exilic Jewish Languages...* (_Multilingua_ 6.7-24 or in his _Yiddish Turning to Life_, Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1991, 19-35) and Wexler 1981 (in _Language_).

    Laszlo Cseresnyesi ****


    The two people to whom it is generally attributed are: Loreto Todd (University of Leeds) and [separately] John Platt (deceased)

    Platt, John. 1975. The Singapore English Speech Continuum. ANTHROPOLOGICAL LINGUISTICS 17, 7, 363-374.

    Todd, Loreto. 1975. 'Pidgins and creoles: the case for the creoloid'. Paper presented at Intnl. Conference on Pidgins and Creoles, Honolulu.

    Notions of normal transmission are most clearly discussed by Thomason & Kaufman.

    Anthea Fraser ****

    Reinecke et al.'s Bibliography (published 1975). Look at the intro for the Afrikaans section and titles of articles listed there. It might also be worth checking Barbados (Bajan) since this is another language to which the term might have been applied.

    Philip Baker, per Jeff Allen ****

    Markey, T. L. (1982) "Afrikaans: Creole or Non-Creole?", in: Zeitschrift fuer Dialectologie und Linguistiek IL:169-207.

    In this article Markey assesses the case of Afrikaans by comparing it to Negerhollands (NegroDutch), a now extinct Dutch-based creole spoken in the Virgin Islands until the 1940s. Markey uses a checklist of features as a startingpoint for his comparison (e.g. tense-aspect markers, passives, negation, etc.) Whereas Negerhollands has all these features, Afrikaans has only two. Markey concludes that Afrikaans is only marginally creoloid.

    Markey does not make a distinction, however, between Standard European Afrikaans and Afrikaans as spoken by the coloured and black communities (these differ quite significantly, as I can hear around me here (I'm Dutchspeaking myself)). Try the following on theses differences:

    Gilbert, G. and Makhudu, D. (1984) "The creole continuum in Afrikaans: A non-Eurocentric view', unpubl. manuscript, Department of linguistics, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

    Janson, T. (1983) "A language of Sophiatown, Alexandra and Soweto", York papers in Linguistics II.

    Eric Vriends ****

    I first saw the term "creoloid" in the works of Loreto Todd...I noticed a use of the term in something by Peter Trudgill, I *think* maybe earlier than Loreto Todd's usage.

    Paul Roberge has published an excellent study, _The Formation of Afrikaans_ (Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics, no. 27, 1993), and I would recommend that highly to anyone wanting to understand the language's origins & development.

    The phrase "bent but not broken" is, as far as I know, original with me: see p. 253 of Thomason & Kaufman, _Lg. Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics_ (1988).

    I should add that I no longer believe that there is such a thing as a separate category of contact language that one might call "creoloid" or "semicreole": it's hard, and I now think actually impossible, to find any useful criteria for identifying members of such a category. I think that there are prototypical creoles, and also languages whose origins share some, but not all, of the linguistic and especially the sociolinguistic features of creole genesis. In other words, something like a continuum between normal transmission and broken transmission.

    Sarah Thomason ****

    Thank you again for your responses. Charlie Rowe