The Tense, Mood, and Aspect System of Haitian Creole and the Problem of Transmission of Grammar in Creole Genesis
It is often assumed that creolization involves a break in the transmission of grammar. On the basis of data drawn from the TMA system of Haitian creole, as compared with those of its source languages — French, the superstratum language, and Fongbe, one of the substratum languages — this paper argues that creolization does not involve a break in transmission of grammar. The properties of the Haitian creole TMA system are shown to reflect in a systematic way those of its contributing languages. While the syntactic and the semantic properties of the TMA markers of the creole parallel those of Fongbe, the markers' phonological form appears to be derived from phonetic strings found in the superstratum language. This systematic division of properties is predicted by the hypothesis that relexification has played a major role in the formation of the creole. The fact that the lexical entries of the creole have phonological representations which are derived from phonetic strings found in the superstratum language is the visible signal that creolization involves the creation of a new language. The fact that the lexical entries of the creole show semantic and syntactic properties that parallel those of the languages of the substratum argues that there has been no break in the transmission of grammar in the formation of the creole.
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