Vol. 1:1 (1986) ► pp.33–50
African Areal Characteristics
Sprachbund, not Substrate?
Two arguments against the influence of African languages as an explanation for the typological similarities among the Afro-European Pidgins and Creoles have been the variety of the African languages and the unlikelihood that a single substrate language would have contributed the same feature to so many different languages, each with its own history. It is demonstrated that many of the features widespread among Afro-European languages are equally widespread among African languages, regardless of their genetic affiliations. They are thus legitimately regarded as at the same time African and Atlantic Creole areal features. They encompass the local varieties and require no single substrate or group of substrates to explain their appearance among Afro-European languages. The large number of examples and their wide geographical extension is evidence for the validity of the areal explanation. It is expected that further research will increase the number of examples, as well as demonstrate their even greater frequency among African languages. Universal and genetic explanations of resemblance should be supplemented by the areal hypothesis, which explains African influence as resulting from very common and widely distributed features, rather than to a single substrate language or group of languages.
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