1

English being a great mess of multiple languages such as French and Old Norse, would it be safe to consider the language that came about a creole? Obviously, most would not consider English a Germanic/Romance creole, but my question is how this distinction can be clarified.

The difference between Haitian Creole and Spanish (the Arabic influence) is obvious, yet how about such languages like Maltese and English, that are a mix of multiple languages? I also understand the idea of partial-creolization, yet would still like where you draw the metaphorical line.

  • 3
    Language contact can produce a variety of outcomes, many of which have been studied. Maltese and English are both languages that show massive borrowing but retain clear continuity with earlier states in their lineages. They are not creoles, nor are they mixed languages or cases of metatypy. – Gaston Ümlaut Oct 23 '18 at 21:14
6

A creole is usually defined as a specific form of socially-influenced language change, one where a pidgin language was spoken, and it gained sufficiently wide-spread usage to the point that it was acquired as a native language by children. A pidgin language is a simplified communicative system created by two or more adult populations who do not have a language in common. The question, then, is whether a pidgin arose given contact between Saxons and Vikings, or later English speakers and Norman invaders. However, the domain of "creole" is expanded by some linguists (Mufwene for example) to include cases of significant contact induced influence, without the pidginization requirement. So it would really depend on how you define "creole", and how you distinguish it from other forms of contact-induced language change (such as Arabic influence on Spanish, or English influence on Korean). There is no independent metric of whether a language should be called a creole versus something else. Rather than expanding the definition of creole to include all forms of language contact (leaving us with no distinction between cases like Kituba or Haitian versus Korean), we could leave the definition of creole alone, and construct a different terminological category for Louisiana French.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.