Caribbean Creole Languages

Silvia Kouwenberg

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:
Caribbean Creole Languages

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  • History of the Americas
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The intersection of the fields of Atlantic history and creole studies lies first and foremost in their shared interest in the origins of the African and African-descended populations who created the cultures and languages of the Caribbean. For students of Caribbean creoles who hope to reconstruct the sociohistorical context of the emergence of these languages, it is important that the perspective taken be “historically realistic.” This entails reliance on research carried out by historians, but also, frequently, independent and innovative historical research by linguists. From the point of view of students of Atlantic history, linguistic findings may fill gaps in historical knowledge—gaps with regard to the ethnic origins of the early African enslaved populations of plantation societies and their movements within the region, and especially with regard to the impact that particular ethnolinguistic groups of enslaved Africans had in the formation of creole languages and cultures. Additional interest may be found in the discussions among creolists on the rapidity of stabilization of creole languages—an issue that has ramifications for our views of the rate of emergence of creole cultures more generally—and the relation between stabilization and demographic factors such as sex ratio, the rate of population renewal, and the number of children in the population, as well as factors pertaining to the nature of the plantation crops, plantation size, specialization within the enslaved work force, and so on. Finally, research on the historical text corpora available for some Caribbean creoles has yielded evidence for the existence of social and/or ethnic variation within creole languages, with implications for the way we view the social structure of plantation societies. The entries that follow focus on the historical component in creolist work and/or their ramifications for our understanding of Atlantic history.

Article.  7857 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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