Pidgin and Creole Languages:
A Linguistic, Historical and Cognitive Overview

Instructor(s): Marlyse Baptista

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, history and human genetics (population genetics in Africa) are contributing to a better understanding of how creole languages emerge and develop. Topics in this course will include:

  1. Socio-historical contexts of creole genesis and how a distinct history of population contact results in distinct structural outcomes;
  2. Examination of the morpho-syntactic properties of a set of creole languages
  3. Findings in human genetics about populations' origins in former colonies
  4. Identification of the cognitive processes (L1 and L2 acquisition) that contributed to the emergence of specific features

Graduate-level course in "Introduction to Linguistics" (a survey course)