chapter  12
24 Pages

Some Offspring of Colonial English Are Creole

BySALIKOKO S. MUFWENE

Linguists have cherished the following myth in discussions of the evolution of English and its speciation into several varieties, viz., those spoken by descendants of Europeans, wherever they evolved, are English dialects, whereas most of the nonstandard vernaculars that have evolved among populations of non-European descent are creoles and separate languages altogether. Holm (1988, 2004) and some other creolists have attempted to accommodate the ‘cline’ in the evolution of colonial English (Schneider 1990) and other European colonial languages by positing an intermediate category of semi-creoles, which include varieties such as African American Vernacular English (AAVE), but not Old Amish English. Although AAVE and the like have diverged extensively enough to be considered separate languages by some (as is evident from the literature on ‘Ebonics’, like on Afrikaans), they have not developed enough of those features (so far controversial) that would make them ‘creole’.