Topics in Linguistics: Creole Languages and Caribbean Identities >> Content Detail

Study Materials


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Part 1: Introduction and Overview
1Overview of syllabus.

"Creole" people and "Creole" languages in space and in time.

General and language - and linguistic - specific background.

Introduction of basic terminology and fundamental - and often erroneous -assumptions in Creole linguistics. (The linguistic study of Creole languages is also known as "CREOLISTICS".)

The set of assumptions that we will critically examine throughout this class includes the foundational axiom of Creolistics, namely the so-called "PIDGIN-TO-CREOLE LIFE-CYCLE."

[According to the PIDGIN-TO-CREOLE LIFE-CYCLE, any Creole language would have emerged abruptly as the antecedent PIDGIN acquired native speakers. One correlate of that axiom is that Creole languages fall outside the class of structurally "normal" / "genetic" languages with "normal" / "genetic" pedigree as defined by the family-tree model of gradual linguistic change / speciation: languages in the standard family-tree (e.g., French) are assumed to have developed gradually from "normal" full-fledged languages (e.g., Latin), not from structurally reduced Pidgins.]
Amazon logo Chaudenson, Robert and Salikoko Mufwene. "Creole People and Languages." In Creolization of Language and Culture. New York: Routledge, 2001. ISBN: 0415145937.

Amazon logo Holm. "Introduction to Pidgin and Creole Linguistics." In Pidgins & Creoles. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. ISBN: 0521271088.

Amazon logo Muysken, and Smith. "The Study of Pidgin and Creole Languages." In Pidgins & Creoles: An Introduction. Edited by Arends, Muysken, and Smith. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishers, 1995. ISBN: 1556191707.

Arends. "The Socio-historical Background of Creoles." In Pidgins & Creoles: An Introduction .

Amazon logo DeGraff. "Creolization, Language Change and Language Acquisition: A Prolegomenon." In Language Creation & Language Change: Creolization, Diachrony and Development. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999. ISBN: 0262041685.
Part 1 (continued): Introduction and Overview
2What is the subject matter? Recapitulate from last time: What does it mean to study Creole Languages and Caribbean Identities?

How does it all happen? The socio-historical and cultural context of Creolization. The dynamics of language contact.

What can Creole linguistics and attitudes about Creoles teach us about Caribbean identities?

What can Creole linguistics and attitudes about Creoles teach us about identity formation outside the Caribbean? And what can Creolistics teach us about (the identities of) linguists and other scholars who write about Creole languages? Creolistics as a case study of the interface between power and (the production of) knowledge.

Implications for, or parallels with, other kinds (e.g., cultural) 'creolization'. Linguistic creolization and/vs. cultural creolization.
Mintz. "The Socio-historical Background to Pidginization and Creolization." In Pidginization and Creolization of Languages. Edited by Dell Hymes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. ASIN: 0521098882.

Hancock. "Creoles Language Study and an Overview of the Caribbean Creoles." Ms., University of Texas at Austin, 1994.
Part 2: Socio-historical and Linguistic Issues. Case Study I: West-Indian Creoles
3The 'anglophone' Caribbean. Introduction. Socio-historical overview.

What does 'West-Indian Creole' sound like? What does it look like? A sampling.

Are all Creoles equal? The so-called Creole Continuum.

Linguistic sketches. Morphology and syntax of West-Indian (English - lexicon based) Creoles.

Gaining familiarity with Jamaican Creole aka Patwa - analyzing a Patwa text, Big Tings Laas Wiik.

Can we identify 'Creole features'? How?

Meta-linguistic attitudes. Issues of (mis - ?) identification. The politics of Patwa.

The socio-linguistics of stigmatized language varieties - in the Caribbean and else-where. Why are certain stigmas (which?) associated with Creole languages? By whom?

Prescriptivism vs. descriptivism revisited.
Amazon logo Burton. "Introduction" and "From African to Afro-Creole: The Making of Jamaican Slave Culture, 1655-1838." In Afro-Creole: Power, Opposition and Play in the Caribbean. Ithaca, NY: Cornell, 1997. ISBN: 0801432499.

Amazon logo Roberts, Peter. West Indians and their Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. ISBN: 0521359554. (Selected passages.)

Christie. "Attitudes to Creole: Some Jamaican Evidence." Ms. Society for Pidgin & Creole Languages, 1995. (Selected passages.)

Beckford-Wassink. "Historic Low Prestige and Seeds of Change: Attitudes toward Jamaican Creole."  Language in Society 28 (1999).


Amazon logo Thompson. The Making of the African Diaspora in the Americas 1441-1900. New York: Longman, 1987. ISBN: 0582642388. (Selected passages.)

Part 3: Socio-historical and Linguistic Issues. Case Study II: Haitian Creole
4The case of Haiti.

Locating Haiti in space and in time. A socio-historical and cultural sketch.

A (socio-) linguistic sketch. Diglossia?

Meta-linguistic attitudes vis-à-vis Haitian Creole.

Morphology and syntax of Haitian Creole.
Amazon logo Mintz, Sidney. "The Case of Haiti." In Caribbean Transformations. Edited by Mintz. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989. ISBN: 9780231071154.

Amazon logo Chomsky, Noam. "The Tragedy of Haiti." In Year 501: The Conquest Continue. South End Press, 1993. ISBN: 0896084442.

Amazon logo Smith, Jennie. When the Hands are Many: Community Organization and Social Change in Rural Haiti. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001. ISBN: 0801486734. (chapter 1 and 2)

Dejean. "An Overview of the Language Situation in Haiti." International Journal of the Sociology of Language 102 (1993).

Amazon logo "Haitian Creole." In Comparative Creole Syntax. Edited by John Holm and Peter Patrick. Battlebridge Press, 2000. ISBN: 1903292018. (Westminster Creolistics Series.)

Various newspaper articles on Haiti.
Part 4: Elucidating Creole Genesis: Theoretical Debates. Myths and Facts
5More on Haitian Creole morpho-syntax.

Creole Genesis: The Haitian case. What's to be explained?

Earlier theories and their assumptions about the contributions of Europeans and Africans in Creole genesis. Prejudices, fallacies and facts.

Problems for traditional approaches to language classification and to the classification of diachronic phenomena (e.g., "language change" vs. "Creole genesis": cf. the deeply-rooted dualism that opposes Creole vs. non-Creole languages from the 17th-century onwards).

An overview of 'modern' attempts to explain linguistic creolization.

Three major theories: Substratist (pro-Africanist), Superstratist (pro-Europeanist) and universalist (pro-'creationist'). A debate.

Creole-genesis theories and their (implicit) claims on the origins of Creole culture and on the formation of Caribbean identities.

Does Creole genesis really require a 'separate' (i.e., sui generis) theory? "Cartesian-Uniformitarian" approaches.
Holm. "Theory: A Historical Overview." In Pidgins & Creoles.

Bickerton. "How to Acquire Language without Positive Evidence: What Acquisitionists can Learn from Creoles." In Language Creation and Language Change .

Chaudenson, and Mufwene. "Toward a Theory of Creolization." In Creolization of Language and Culture.

Amazon logo Lefebvre, Claire. "HC Morphology." Chapter 10 in Creole Genesis and The Acquisition of Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. ISBN: 0521593824.

Amazon logo Mufwene, Salikoko. "What Research on Development of Creoles can Contribute to Genetic Linguistics." In The Ecology of Language Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN: 0521794757.
Part 5: Toward a Cartesian-Uniformitarian Perspective on "Creolization"
6Did all Creoles develop in the same "catastrophic" way? Did Creoles develop in radically different ways from how non-Creoles have evolved? Can Creole morphology be used to typologically set apart from non-Creole morphology on the basis of purely-synchronic and purely-structural criteria?

What role do language acquisition (first and second) and language use and processing play in Creole genesis and in language change more generally?

Interaction between internal/cognitive and external/sociohistorical factors in the creation and transmission of linguistic structure.

Creole-genesis theories and meta-linguistic attitudes. The role of (post -) colonial history and of culture in the formation of Creole languages and Creole studies. Relationship between power and the production of knowledge - in Creole studies and beyond.
Amazon logo DeGraff, Michel Anne-Frederic. "Morphology in Creole Genesis: Linguistics and Ideology." In Ken Hale: A Life in Language. Edited by Michael Kenstowicz. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001. ISBN: 0262611600.

———. "Relexification: A Reevaluation." Linguistic Anthropology 44.4 (2002).

———. "Morphology and Word in 'Creolization' and Beyond." In The Handbook of Comparative Syntax. Oxford University Press. (Forthcoming.)

———. "Against Creole Exceptionalism." Language 79.2 (2003).
Part 6: Bringing it Back Home
7Are there any "Creole" (- like) languages in the U.S.? A socio-linguistic look at African-American English (AAE) and at Gullah.

On the genesis (or geneses) of AAE and of Gullah?

AAE, Gullah and 'de-creolization' - myth or reality?

AAE: Creole origins + de - Creolization?

The socio-linguistics and politics of AAE. The Ebonics debate.

Validation AAE. Learning from Oprah and others.

A comparative look at West-Indian Creoles, Gullah and AAE.
Amazon logo Smitherman, Geneva. Talkin and Testifyin. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1986. ISBN: 0814318053. (Selected passages.)

Amazon logo Mufwene. "On Decreolization: The Case of Gullah." In Language and The Social Construction of Identity in Creole Situations. Edited by Marcyliena Morgan, Los Angeles: UCLA Center for African-American Studies, 1994. ISBN: 0934934401.

O'Neil. "Ebonics in the Media." Radical Teacher 54 (1998).

Rickford. "The Ebonics Controversy in my Backyard: A Sociolinguist's Experiences and Reflections." Journal of Sociolinguistics 3 (1999).

Mufwene. "The development of American Englishes: Factoring Contact in and The Social Bias Out." In The Ecology of Language Evolution .

Various newspaper articles on Gullah.

Various newspaper articles on the Ebonics debate.
Part 7: West-Indian Literature
8Patwa in West-Indian literature: siiryos bizniz !

'Creole literature': an oxymoron?

Literature and/vs. 'Orature'.

What language(s) should West-Indian poets express themselves in?

Language and identity in Caribbean literature.

Louise Bennett, Mutabaruka, Michael Smith, Derek Walcott, Lorna Goodison, etc.
Amazon logo Chamberlin, Edward. Come Back to Me, My Language. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993. ISBN: 0252019733.

Walcott. "The Sigh of History." New York Times , 8 Dec 1992.
Part 8: Back to Beginnings: Caribbean Plantation Life
9La Ultima Cena 'The Last Supper' (film). An apercu from 19th-century Cuba.

The socio-historical context of creolization (revisited).

Slavery within European civilization.

Christianity and slavery. The docile slave as good Christian.

Christianity and slavery. Irreconcilable conflicts.

Linguistic and cultural continua.

Maroon phenomena.

Sex and gender in the formation of Caribbean identities.

Re/production and resistance.
Berlin. "Time, Space and The Evolution of Afro-American Society on British mainland North-America." The American Historical Review 85, no. 1 (1980).

Amazon logo Price, Richard. Maroon Societies. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press, 1973. ISBN: 0385065086. (Selected passages)

Amazon logo Hall, Gwendolyn. Africans in Colonial Louisiana. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992. ISBN: 0807116866. (Selected passages)
Green. "Reclaiming Women's Life." Against the Current 7, no. 4 (1992).

Bush. "Defiance or Submission? The Role of the Slave Woman in Slave Resistance in the British Caribbean." Immigrants & Minorities (March 1982).

——–. "White 'Ladies', Coloured 'Favourites' and Black 'Wenches'; Some consideration on Sex, Race and Class Factors in Social Relations in White Creole Society in the British Caribbean." Slavery & Abolition 2, no. 2 (1981).

Beckles. "Historicizing Slavery in West-Indian Feminisms." Feminist Review 59 (1998).
Part 9: Creole Identities
10Discuss proposals for term papers.

Repeating creoleness. Perspective from history, from orthography, from literature and from sociology.

What is to be represented, and how? The Haitian Creole orthographic debates.

How do Creole speakers chose to project themselves to the world? Past, present and future of (representing) Creoleness. Apparent paradoxes.

Creole speakers' attitudes toward elements of their Creole language and culture.

Caribbean Literature (revisited). "How to be a Caribbean writer?"

More on Creole Identities. Haiti vs. the Dominican Republic.

Mirrors of the Heart (film).
Amazon logo James, C. L. R. "The Making of the Caribbean People." In Sphere of Existence. London: Allison & Busby, 1980. ISBN: 085031299X.

Bernabé. "In Praise of Creoleness." Callaloo 13 (1990).

Condé. "Order, Disorder, Freedom and the West-Indian Writer." Yale French Studies 83, no. 2 (1993).

Schieffelin and Doucet. "The 'Real' Haitian Creole: Ideology, Metalinguistics and Orthographic Choice." American Ethnologist 21, no. 1 (1994).

Amazon logo Domínguez, Virginia. White by Definition. Social Classification in Creole Louisiana. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1986. ISBN: 0813511097. (Selected passages)

Various newspaper articles on "Creoleness" and "Creolité".
Part 9 (continued): Creole Identities
11Religion in the Caribbean.

Vodou in Haiti. The Divine Horsemen (film).

Yoruba religion in Cuba. Oggun: Eternally Present (film).

Caribbean religions: 'New world' syncretisms and/or links to a mythical Africa?

Other cultural aspects of Creolization. Dance, music etc.

Creole genesis (revisited).

To conclude: what does it all mean?

Epilogue: where do we go from here?
Amazon logo Desmangles, Leslie. Faces of the Gods. Vodou and Roman Catholicism in Haiti. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992. ISBN: 0807843938. (Selected passages)

Various newspaper articles on Vodou.

Austerlitz. "Local and International Trends in Dominican Merengue." World of Music, 1993.
Part 10: Final Projects and Presentations
12Students presentations of their final projects.


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