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Modeling the Evolution of Creoles

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image of Language Dynamics and Change

Various theories have been proposed regarding the origin of creole languages. Describing a process where only the end result is documented involves several methodological difficulties. In this paper we try to address some of the issues by using a novel mathematical model together with detailed empirical data on the origin and structure of Mauritian Creole. Our main focus is on whether Mauritian Creole may have originated only from a mutual desire to communicate, without a target language or prestige bias. Our conclusions are affirmative. With a confirmation bias towards learning from successful communication, the model predicts Mauritian Creole better than any of the input languages, including the lexifier French, thus providing a compelling and specific hypothetical model of how creoles emerge. The results also show that it may be possible for a creole to develop quickly after first contact, and that it was created mostly from material found in the input languages, but without inheriting their morphology.

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Analytical Sociology, Linköping University, and Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution, Stockholm University fredrik.jansson@intercult.su.se ; 2: Department of Linguistics, Stockholm University parkvall@ling.su.se ; 3: Institute for Analytical Sociology, Linköping University, and Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution, Stockholm University pontusstrimling@gmail.com

10.1163/22105832-00501005
/content/journals/10.1163/22105832-00501005
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/content/journals/10.1163/22105832-00501005
2015-01-01
2017-09-21

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