One of the most compelling questions in the field of pidgins and creoles consists in identifying the linguistic sources and cognitive forces that shape a given creole: why does a particular creole look and sound the way it does? Where do its linguistic properties come from? What are the original populations and languages that contributed to its genesis? The
investigation of such questions hopes to shed light on how the mind pulls together linguistic materials from distinct sources to form a creole, and to reveal the nature of the cognitive processes involved in creole formation. Recent developments in language contact studies
combined with the findings in other disciplines like developmental psychology are contributing to a better understanding of how creole languages emerge and develop.
Topics in this course will include:
- socio-historical contexts of creole genesis and how a distinct
history of population contact results in distinct structural outcomes;
- examination of the morpho-syntactic properties of a set of creole languages;
- findings in experimental psychology regarding language learning and development;
- identification of the cognitive
processes (L1 and L2 acquisition) that contributed to the emergence of specific features. On this issue, we focus particularly on the process of convergence in creole formation and demonstrate how such a hypothesis can be experimentally tested.