Processes of Creole Formation and Related Contact-Induced Language Change

In: Journal of Language Contact
Donald Winford
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In this paper, I explore the relationship between creole formation and other outcomes of contact induced change and argue that in many respects the comparisons that earlier scholars made between the two have a sound basis in terms of the processes of change that produced such outcomes. I focus my attention only on those aspects of creole formation that result from the kind of cross-linguistic influence that has been referred to variously as 'substratum influence.' I argue that such influence is part of a more general type of contact-induced change that is brought about by imposition, a transfer type that manifests itself in a wide variety of contact situations not traditionally treated as involving the creation of creoles. I illustrate the workings of imposition in a variety of contact situations, including those that involve second language acquisition (including creole formation), and those that involve language attrition. I discuss two linguistic models that have been proposed for the description and analysis of such phenomena in creole formation, namely, Lefebvre's (1998) Relexification model, and Myers-Scotton's (2002) Abstract Level Structure model. I argue that these models are compatible with the view of imposition proposed here, and shed some light on the mechanisms underlying this transfer type, and how they produce the kinds of contact phenomena found in creole formation, as well as in cases of language attrition. I further argue that these mechanisms are essentially psycholinguistic in nature, and can best be understood in the context of psycholinguistic models of bilingual speech production. Finally, I suggest how insights from such models can clarify our understanding of how imposition produces the kinds of convergence phenomena we find in creoles and related outcomes of contact-induced change.

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