Edited by Marlyse Baptista and Jacqueline Guéron
[Creole Language Library 31] 2007
► pp. 145–169
5. On the interpretation of bare noun phrases in Guinea-Bissau Portuguese Creole (Kriyol)
Guinea-Bissau Portuguese Creole or Kriyol is one of those languages where bare nouns have free access to syntax. Bare nouns are given a restrictive definition: only nouns appearing in their root form, i.e. not marked for number, are considered bare. Kriyol is thus different from Portuguese or English insofar as so-called bare nouns in these languages must be pluralized. Another distinctive feature of Kriyol is the absence of a definite determiner analogous to English the. The conjunction of these features – bare nouns unmarked for number, no overt definite determiner – makes the interpretation of Kriyol noun phrases appear problematic in many cases. The aim of this article is to show that, once semantic (does the noun refer to a person or not?) and syntactic (is the noun a subject or an object?) factors have been taken into account, Kriyol actually is no more ambiguous in this domain than natural languages normally are.