Creoles (here including expanded pidgins) are commonly viewed as being more analytic than their lexifiers and other languages in terms of grammatical marking. The purpose of the study reported in this article was to examine the validity of this view by measuring the frequency of analytic (and synthetic) markers in corpora of two different English-lexified creoles — Tok Pisin and Hawai‘i Creole — and comparing the quantitative results with those for other language varieties. To measure token frequency, 1,000 randomly selected words in each creole corpus were tagged with regard to word class, and categorized as being analytic, synthetic, both analytic and synthetic, or purely lexical. On this basis, an Analyticity Index and a Syntheticity Index were calculated. These were first compared to indices for other languages and then to L1 varieties of English (e.g. standard British and American English and British dialects) and L2 varieties (e.g. Singapore English and Hong Kong English). Type frequency was determined by the size of the inventories of analytic and synthetic markers used in the corpora, and similar comparisons were made.The results show that in terms of both token and type frequency of grammatical markers, the creoles are not more analytic than the other varieties. However, they are significantly less synthetic, resulting in much higher ratios of analytic to synthetic marking. An explanation for this finding relates to the particular strategy for grammatical expansion used by individuals when the creoles were developing.
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