Theories of Creole Genesis, Sociohistorical Considerations, and the Evaluation of Evidence
The Case of Haitian Creole and the Relexification Hypothesis
In an early Caribbean colony the conversion from other crops to sugar monoculture utterly transformed the colony's society and arguably its language as well. A comparative quantitative analysis of the populations of Haiti and Martinique makes the case that the initial period of creole genesis on each island extended as much as 50 years beyond the introduction of sugar growing. The reconstruction of the ethnic distribution of the African population brought to the French Caribbean in the late 17th century suggests that speakers of Gbe dialects would have been numerically dominant in Haiti during the first several decades of the sugar era. This fact may seem to lend plausibility to Lefebvre and Lumsden's application of the Relexification Hypothesis, but a number of vexing issues call this hypothesis into question.
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