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[WS125] Rethinking Creole Morphology


Authors: Ana R. Luis, Joseph Clancy Clements

Rethinking Creole Morphology

Creole languages that formed because of the Western European colonial expansion in the world were thought to have very little morphology or none at all. In the recent decades, however, considerable progress has been made in the study of creole morphology and significant discoveries have led to new insights into the nature of creole word structure and its relation to the morphology of the contributing languages (Clements 1996; Braun&Plag 2002; Clements & Koontz-Garboden 2002; Kihm 2003; Kouwenberg 2003; Steinkrüger 2003; Siegel 2004a,b; Clements 2007; Farraquason 2007; Luis 2008; Plag 2008, 2009; Braun 2009).

While these individual investigations have contributed significantly to our understanding of creole morphology, little systematic comparative study has been undertaken yet and a non-trivial degree of uncertainty persists regarding the exact range of morphological phenomena (inflectional, derivational, compounding, and other) that exist in creole languages. Also, little attention has been paid to the fact that creoles may develop morphological phenomena at different points in their lifecycle, i.e., both during and after creolization. In addition, there is yet no consensus on whether certain phenomena should be identified as morphological or not, partly because of an unclear/doubtful use of morphological diagnostics to determine the grammatical status of linguistic units.

Given that our knowledge of the properties of creole morphology has far-reaching consequences on our understanding of how grammars emerge and evolve (Siegel 2008, Crowley 2008, Luís 2011), the goal of this workshop is to bring together, in a meaningful way, the wide range of issues and problems that have been raised in recent years from various perspectives and contribute towards an assessment of the present state of findings and developments. The idea is to document, describe, and analyse morphological phenomena and investigate how such phenomena correlate with typological, socio-historical and acquisitional factors. The specific issues we would like to address include the following:

  • Observed morphological patterns: Which morphological phenomena (inflection, derivation, compounding, reduplication, conversion, among others) are attested in creoles and how do they function?
  • Cross-linguistic studies on the presence/absence of morphological phenomena: Are there morphological similarities that are common to creoles, irrespective of their origin, their substrates and their lexifiers? If so, what are they and how can we account for them?
  • Loss and survival of lexifier-language morphology: Which type of morphology develops first? Why are some morphological phenomena more abundant than others?
  • Creole morphology in contact: To what extent can/does creole morphology change? In which area (inflectional, derivational, compounding or other) is it likely to change and why?
  • Formal accounts of creole morphology: Which contribution can creoles make to Morphological Theory, Typology, Psycholinguistics and other linguistic areas?
  • Methodological issues: Which morphological diagnostics help determine the inflectional/derivational status of linguistic units in creole languages? How can phylogenetic networks and quantitative methods increase our understanding of morphological systems? 



Braun, Maria. 2009. Word-formation and creolisation: the case of early Sranan. Tübingen: Max Nimeyer.

Braun, Maria and I. Plag. 2002. How transparent is creole morphology? A study of Early Sranan word formation. In G. Booij and Jaap van Marle, eds. Yearbook of Morphology.  Dordrecht: Kluwer, pp.81-104.

Clements, J. Clancy.  1996.  The Genesis of a Language: The formation and development of Korlai Portuguese.  Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Clements, J. Clancy 2007. Korlai Creole Portuguese. In John Holm and Peter Patrick. London: Battlebridge Press, 153-173.

Clements, J. Clancy and Andrew Koontz-Garboden. 2002. Two Indo-Portuguese Creoles in Contrast. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 17:2. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 191-236.

Crowley, Terry. 2008. Pidgin and Creole Morphology. In Sylvia Kouwenberg and J. V. Singler (ed.) The Handbook of Pidgin and Creole Studies. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Farqhuason, Joseph. 2007. Typology and grammar: Creole morphology revisited. In Ansaldo, Umberto et. al. eds.2007. Deconstructing Creoles. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 21-37.

Luís, Ana R. 2008. Tense marking and inflectional morphology in Indo-Portuguese. In Susanne Michaelis. ed. Roots of creole structures: Weighing the contribution of substrates and superstrates, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 83-121.

Luís, Ana R. 2011. Morphomic structure and loan-verb integration: evidence from Lusophone creoles. In M. Maiden, J. C. Smith, M. Goldbach and O. Hinzelin. eds. Morphological Autonomy: Perspectives from Romance Inflectional Morphology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 235-254.

Kihm, Alain. 2003. Inflectional categories in creole languages. In Ingo Plag, ed. Phonology and Morphology of Creole Languages. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 333-363.

Kouwenberg, Silvia. 2003. Twice as meaningful. Reduplication in pidgins, creoles and other contact languages. Battlebridge Publications: London.

Plag, Ingo. 2009. Creoles as interlanguages: word-formation, Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 24.2., 339-362.

Plag, Ingo. 2008. Creoles as interlanguages: inflectional morphology, Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 23.1, 109-130.

Siegel, J. 2004a Morphological simplicity in pidgins and creoles. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 19(1), 139-162.

Siegel, J. 2004b Morphological elaboration. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 19(2), 333-362.

Siegel, Jeff. 2008. The emergence of pidgin and creole languages. Oxford: OUP.

Steinkrüger, Patrick. 2003. Morphological processes of word-formation in Chabacano. In Ingo Plag, ed. Phonology and Morphology of Creole Languages. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 253-268.

23.07.2013   10:30-12:30

Chair: Ingo Plag

10:30 - 11:10 Jeff SIEGEL
The role of substrate transfer in creole morphological development
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11:10 - 11:50 Silvia KOUWENBERG
Early morphology in Berbice Dutch and the process of language creation
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11:50 - 12:30 Clancy CLEMENTS
Old and new morphology in Indo-Portuguese
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23.07.2013   14:00-16:00

Chair: Jeff Siegel

14:00 - 14:40 Olivier BONAMI et al.
A morphologists perspective on creole complexity
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14:40 - 15:20 Fermin MOSCOSO DEL PRADO
The grammatical complexity of Tok Pisin: A quantitative assessment
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15:20 - 16:00 Angela BARTENS
A comparison of the ideophones of African Portuguese-lexifier creoles
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23.07.2013   16:30-18:30

Chair: Alain Kihm

16:30 - 17:10 Alain KIHM et al.
The morphosyntactic status of TMA markers in two Romance-based Creoles
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17:10 - 17:50 Ana LUÍS et al.
Creole verbal paradigms and stem allomorphy
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17:50 - 18:30 Parth BHATT et al.
A new look at Haitian Creole morphophonology
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