Decreolization as emergent grammar(s): Some Afro-Bolivian data

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Abstract

A restructured variety of Spanish spoken by small communities of Afro-descendents in Bolivia differs from modern Spanish in exhibiting no noun-adjective agreement for gender or number. Only a few individuals continue to speak this most basilectal variety; the majority of speakers exhibit at least some gender and number concord, in a fashion that proceeds generally rightward, from determiners and other prenominal modifiers to head nouns, postnominal modifiers, and predicate nominatives/adjectives. Number concord (plural marking) usually appears before gender concord in mesolectal varieties, and occurs at a higher rate than gender concord across the entire range of Afro-Bolivian speakers. A variationist analysis based on a corpus of recorded material suggests that this gradual emergence of (feminine) gender and plural marking represents a systematic form of decreolization governed largely by structural principles, namely the stepwise activation of agreement projections. Decreolization is represented as a series of nested intermediate grammars, each of which properly contains the preceding one(s).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-340
Number of pages65
JournalJournal of Pidgin and Creole Languages
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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