The Survival of People and Languages: Schooners, Goats and Cassava in St. Barthelemy, French West Indies, Julianne Maher explains a rare linguistic anomaly, how a small homogeneous population of seventeenth century French settlers in the tiny island of St. Barth came to speak four separate languages. With a range of historical documents and eighteenth century eye-witness accounts, Maher reconstructs the island's social ecology that led to its fragmentation. The four speech varieties are closely examined and analyzed, using extensive native speaker interviews; with the impending demise of these languages such documentation is unique. Maher concludes that social factors such as poverty, economics, geography and small population size served to maintain linguistic barriers on the island for over two hundred fifty years.
This book deals with creolization and pidginization of language, culture and identity and makes use of interdisciplinary approaches developed in the study of the latter. Creolization and pidginization are conceptualized and investigated as specific social processes in the course of which new common languages, socio-cultural practices and identifications are developed under distinct social and political conditions and in different historical and local contexts of diversity. The contributions show that creolization and pidginization are important strategies to deal with identity and difference in a world in which diversity is closely linked with inequalities that relate to specific group memberships, colonial legacies and social norms and values.