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Langues créoles, diachronie et procédés de reconstruction

Abstract : Title : Creole languages, diachrony and processes of reconstruction

At the beginning, there were two worlds : Africa and Europe. Then those two worlds met abruptly, at the end of the Middle Ages, within communities where slavery was the most common rule, where the Whites acculturated the Blacks, where captive women gave birth to half-caste children, who themselves framed hybrid tongues : the Creole languages.
Creole languages and most especially the Afro-European ones, continue to excite many a linguist's curiosity. They were born suddenly, within one or two generations' span, they display half-African, half-European characteristics, and the mistery of their origins overlaps partly or totally with the question of the origins of Language.
Those Creole tongues are said to be French or English or Dutch or Portuguese-based. Provided that the base is mentioned, everything seems to be clear. For example, if the Creole X is Portuguese-based, many people will assert immediately that any romance-looking word they may find in X can be traced to Portuguese. To Portuguese, yes, quite surely, but which Portuguese Classical or modern ?
When studying the genesis of Creole languages, many people neglect the notion of diachrony. Nonetheless, a lot of Afro-European Creole languages already have a history, which sometimes exceeds a half-millennium, and a simple glance into a contemporary dictionary of the lexifier language is by no means sufficient to give a full account of their formation.
In order to lay the foundation of a decent philological approach in creolistics, one must absolutely take into consideration the diachrony of the lexifier languages and of the new-borne Creole tongues that descend from them. Such a work enables one to produce reliable reconstructed forms and more solid and fruitful comparative studies.
That is what I will try to show through this communication, basing myself on examples taken from my own research on West-African and Gulf-of-Guinea Afro-Portuguese Creoles.
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Contributor : Nicolas Quint <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, November 25, 2008 - 4:10:16 PM
Last modification on : Friday, March 27, 2020 - 3:32:24 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00341633, version 1


Nicolas Quint. Langues créoles, diachronie et procédés de reconstruction. Bulletin de la Société de Linguistique de Paris, Peeters Publishers, 2001, 1 (XVI), pp.265-284. ⟨halshs-00341633⟩



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