Three theories have dominated the field of creole and pidgin studies for the past half century. The amateur linguist formerly had to decide between the substrate, superstrate or bio-program schools. I will not bother referencing the works of these leading theorists for fear that you, gentle reader, might spoil your pristine mind. The proponents of these approaches have taken perfectly clear data and skewed it to match political programs. The coincidences that pepper every1 instance of an appearance of a creole language balk at the misguided interpretations that have sullied this critical field of linguistics. Pidgins and creoles are not the products of a natural process of language formation. They are the children of the age of imperialism and reminders of a time when language was a substance to be molded like so much butter.
Our story begins at the start of the second millennium of the Common Era. William, the Duke of Normandy, had just sacked Hastings and routed Harold Godwinson's bedraggled army. As the victor of this struggle, William ascended to the throne of England and thereby inherited a series of islands swamped in a proper linguistic mess. Scots, Irish, a tribe of Piques, Saxons, Vikings, a few Japanese whose presence confused everyone, two Maasai traders, the English high court speech, uninterpretable Manx speakers and a healthy helping of Danes formed an inter-communicational nightmare.
William immediately commissioned a mandate to be read throughout his new kingdom that demanded allegiance to him. Some months later his messengers returned from their task only to report that the peasants did not understand Old French. Concerned but not discouraged, William removed himself for some time to ponder this conundrum. His solution was ingenious.
The peasants were to give up the complex case systems of their languages. He thought that the elimination of inflections, which he just called those "pesky, unpredictable word bits", would eliminate the superficial differences between the different languages groups. The resultant speech of each group would then become a simplified--if inelegant--method of communication that would more or less resemble the uncouth mutterings of the rest of William's subjects. This was the first part of his program and it was brilliant.
The second part was the re-education of the population of England. He would make them adopt Old French words for things that they already had labels for. The peasants were too dim-witted to see this process in action even before their very eyes. So for instance, when a peasant would say, "What fore shall I must grow thee all of this boeuf? And what is this boeuf that thou speakest of?" William's cronies would slyly respond, "Keep feeding your cows peasant. And drop the -est in speakest!"
Little did William realize, but he had invented an efficient method of combining disparate languages into a mutually intelligible amalgamation--pidginization and creolization had become yet another powerful tool of aspiring despots. After the 100 Years War when the English freed themselves from French rule and engineered an impressive economic recovery, they jumped in their boats and joined the race to collect foreign land under their national flag. The French were quick to follow. The Danish, Spanish and Portuguese were already well versed in the art of imperialism by this point. They were in fact developing their theories of colonialism that the English would later adopt. But the English and French had a strategy in their arsenals that their rivals lacked. Yup, the power of linguistic assimilation. They taught their captains, generals and missionaries the art of creolization that their ancestors had honed for three centuries. The Spanish never learned this trick and their legacy today is a continent full of Spanish speakers. They must have wasted enormous amounts of money training natives to speak Spanish fluently. This ultimately drained their budgets and tossed them out of the world domination game. The same fate befell the Portuguese and the Danish.
Today, the former colonies of the French and English abound with a bouquet of pidgins and creoles. So you see, the instantiation of these neo-languages is not the result of an innate process of language creation induced by contact situations. Neither is their appearance the logical end of a willy-nilly process of speakers trying to tailor their own speech to approximate the speech of an interlocutor. No, this is clearly the fallout of imperialists being methodically imperial right down to the control of language itself.
|A 21st Century Proposal for English Spelling Reform--H. Sanderson Chambers III|
|Adaptive Heuristic Caching in Name Recall--Trey Jones|
|SpecGram Vol CXLIX, No 1 Contents|