A socio-historical account of the formation of the creole language of Antigua
The present paper constructs a socio-historically oriented account of Antiguan Creole (hereafter AC) formation based on the chronology, demographics, economy, and origin and distribution of the population groups of colonial Antigua. During the first decades after the establishment of the colony in the mid seventeenth century until the end of that century, Antigua based its economy on small holdings not dependent on slave labor, where contact among different linguistic groups was so close and direct as to create a second language variety (hereafter L2). By the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the demographic make-up changed radically as sugar became the dominant crop, enslaved peoples were massively imported, and a plantation economy dominated the island’s affairs. It is during this period that segregation increased, creating a gap between groups of European and African origin, which resulted in a process of restructuring that created a more divergent form of the earlier L2. Thus I argue that AC formation involved both the pre-plantation and the plantation phases, so the creolization process was not completed until the importation of slaves stopped and the balance between the locally-born and the foreign-born population shifted in favor of the former. Furthermore, I survey the language groups that may have been available during both phases and argue that AC formation was modeled on its lexifier during the first decades of its existence but its formation continued afterwards adopting more substrate traits. Therefore, moderate superstrate and substrate positions account for AC formation.
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