Creoles and creolization

Salikoko Mufwene
Table of contents

Strictly speaking, creoles are new vernaculars which developed out of contacts between colonial nonstandard varieties of a European language and several non-European languages in the Atlantic, Indian, and to some extent the Pacific Oceans during the seventeenth through the early twentieth centuries. Examples include Saramaccan and Sranan in Surinam (‘lexified’ by English, with the former also heavily influenced by Portuguese and the latter by Dutch), Papiamentu in the Netherlands Antilles (‘lexified’ by Portuguese and influenced by Spanish), Haitian, Mauritian, and Seychellois (‘lexified’ by French), and Gullah in the United States, Hawaiian Creole, Jamaican, and Guyanese (also ‘lexified’ by English). Hawaiian Creole, locally identified as Pidgin, is the only vernacular of the Pacific identified as ‘creole’. Vernaculars such as Tok Pisin (spoken in Papua New Guinea) and Bislama (spoken in Vanuatu) are typically labeled as ‘expanded pidgins’ (see below).

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