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Pidgins and Creoles

From the mid 1970s to the present, the study of pidgins, creoles and creole continua has been an important component of the sociolinguistics program at Stanford. The Stanford library has been actively collecting primary and secondary books, articles and other documents on pidgins and creoles, and its extensive holdings can be searched in "Socrates," the library's online catalog. The Carrier Pidgin (a newsletter for the field) was edited and published at Stanford for many years. Directed readings and courses on pidgins and creoles (e.g., "English Trans-planted, English Transformed: Pidgins and Creoles" and "Sociolinguistics and Pidgin-Creole Studies") are regularly offered. Among our main research and teaching foci (reflected in part in the lists of dissertations and publications below) are these:

Variability in creole continua (esp. Guyana, Jamaica, Hawai'i) and its implications for variationist models (e.g. diglossia, quantitative, implicational, acts of identity) and for sociolinguistic concepts of and approaches to social stratification, speech community, ideology and identity, ethnicity, gender, age, style and change

     First and Second Language Acquisition in Creoles

     Creole genesis

     Creole vs. Anglicist/dialectological hypotheses about the origin of African American Vernacular English

     Applied creolistics, including attitudes towards creoles, and the use of creoles in education,
     government, and public life

     Descriptions of relatively understudied pidgin-creole varieties and features

Faculty members principally involved in this area are John R. Rickford (Linguistics, a native speaker of Guyanese Creole English, who has done fieldwork on and written about this variety as well as Jamaican Creole, Barbadian, and S. Carolina Gullah), Elizabeth Closs Traugott (emerita, Linguistics, who has written about pidgins and creoles as part of her larger work on grammaticalization and other aspects of language change), and James Fox (Anthropological Sciences, an expert on Russenorsk, the Russo-Norwegian pidgin). Charles A. Ferguson, one of the founding members of the Linguistics Department, now deceased, left an important legacy of work on pidgins and creoles through his research on diglossia, copula absence, and foreigner talk/simplified registers. Eve Clark and Penelope Eckert have also played important roles on the dissertation committees of students researching language acquisition and sociolinguistic variability, respectively.

Graduate student dissertations on pidgins and creoles at Stanford include:

Blake, Renee A. 1997. All o we is one? Race, class & language in a Barbados community. (Linguistics)

DeBose, Charles. 1975. Papiamentu: A Spanish-based creole. (Linguistics)

Jean-Charles, Herve. 1981. Attitudes of teachers and parents toward French and Creole in Haiti. (Education)

McWhorther, John. 1993. Towards A new model of creole genesis. (Linguistics)

Nichols, Patricia C. 1976. Linguistic change in Gullah: Sex, age and mobility. (Linguistics)

Roberts, Sarah J. 2004. The emergence of Hawai'i Creole English in the early 20th century: The sociohistorical context of creole genesis. (Linguistics)

Shepherd, Susan. 1981. Modals in Antiguan, Creole, child language acquisition and history. (Linguistics)

Simmons-McDonald, Hazel. 1988. The learning of English negatives by speakers of St. Lucian French Creole. (Education)

Swearingen-Davis, Martha. 1997. A syntactic, semantic & diachronic analysis of Palenquero BA. (Linguistics)

Stanford undergraduates have also done senior honors theses in this area (Jabari Anderson on Afro Ecuadorian Spanish, Todd Morrow on Barbadian), and John Rickford has served on the dissertation committees of graduate students (e.g.Janina Fenigsen, Peter Patrick, John Singler, Maureen Warner-Lewis) doing creole research at other universities.

Selected pidgin-creole publications by Stanford faculty, students and graduates include:

Blake, RenEnglish: Insights into class and race identity. Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies 4.1:37-54.

_____. 2004. Bajan Phonology. In Edgar Schneider, ed., A Handbook of varieties of English: The Americas and the Caribbean. Berlin: Mouton.

Blake, Renee. 1996. Barbadian Creole English: Insights into class and race identity. Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies 4.1:37-54.

_____. 2004. Bajan Phonology. In Edgar Schneider, ed., A Handbook of varieties of English: The Americas and the Caribbean. Berlin: Mouton.

Blake, Renramaccan and Haitian as young grammars: The pitfalls of syntacto-centrism in creole genesis research. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 19:77-138.

_____. 2005. Defining creole. [Collection of articles.] Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rickford, John R. 1974. The insights of the mesolect. In David De Camp and Ian F. Hancock, eds. Pidgins and Creoles: Current Trends and Prospects, 92-117. Washington, D. C.: Georgetown University Press.

_____. 1986a. Me Tarzan, you Jane: Cognition, expression and the creole speaker. Journal of Linguistics 22.2:281-310.

_____. 1986cThe need for new approaches to social class analysis in sociolinguistics. Language and Communication 6.3:215-21.

_____. 1987a. Dimensions of a Creole Continuum. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

_____. 1987b, ed. Sociolinguistics and Pidgin-Creole Studies. Issue #71, International Journal of the Sociology of Language. Mouton, The Hague.

_____. 1998. The creole origins of African American Vernacular English: Evidence from copula absence." In Salikoko S. Mufwene, John R.

Rickford, Guy Bailey and John Baugh, eds., African American English,154-200. London: Routledge.

_____. 2003. Pidgins and Creoles. International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, Oxford University Press.

Rickford, John R., and John McWhorter. 1996. Language contact and language generation: Pidgins and creoles. In Florian Coulman, ed., The Handbook of Sociolinguistics, 238-256. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Rickford, John R., and Suzanne Romaine. 2005. Creole genesis, attitudes and discourse. Studies celebrating Charlene Sato, Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins

Rickford, John R., and Elizabeth Closs Traugott, 1985. Symbol of powerlessness and degeneracy, or symbol of solidarity and truth? Paradoxical attitudes towards pidgins and creoles. In S. Greenbaum., ed., The English language today, 252-61. Oxford: Pergamon,

Roberts, Sarah. 1998. The role of diffusion in the genesis of Hawaiian Creole. Language 74.1:1-39.

_____. 1999. The TMA system of Hawaiian Creole and diffusion. In John R. Rickford and Suzanne Romaine, eds., Creole Genesis, Attitudes and Discourse, 45-70. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

_____. 2000. Nativization and the genesis of Hawaiian Creole. In John McWhorter, ed., Language change and language contact in pidgins and creoles, 257-300. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

_____. 2003. Reduplication in pidgin Hawaiian. In Silvia Kouwenberg, ed., Twice as meaningful: Reduplication in pidgins and creoles, 307-18. London: Battlebridge.

_____. 2004. The role of style and identity in the development of Hawaiian Creole. In Genevieve Escure and Armin Schwedler, eds., Creoles, contact and language change, 333-352. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Sharma, Devyani, and John R. Rickford. To appear. Creole/AAVE copula absence patterns as evidence of L2 Learning effects. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages (under review).

Traugott, Elizabeth Closs. 1976. Pidgins, creoles, and the origin of Vernacular Black English. In Deborah Sears Harrison and Tom Trabasso, eds., Black English: A seminar. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

_____. 1977. Pidginization, creolization and language change. In Albert Valdman, ed., Pidgin and creole linguistics, 70-98. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

_____. 2003. Grammaticalization in situations of extreme language contact. Chapter 8 in Paul Hopper and Elizabeth Closs Traugott, Grammaticalization, 2nd. revised edition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press,.

Websites for further publications and information: