Lesson #405: Creole Languages

Sometimes I arrive at a lesson in a very roundabout way. I’ve been preparing to transition at work tomorrow, so my learning has been limited this week to finding out the physical fitness requirements for Survivor contestants.* (There was context for this, but it’s inconsequential.)

That’s not so interesting, so I sat down today, decided to mess around on Wikipedia (completely unsuccessfully) and eventually got to thinking about Belgium, which took me to Flemish, which took me to Afrikaans, which took me to creole, which is apparently not just a French thing.

I think most people’s understanding of creole is the French-based creole languages of the Caribbean — particularly Haiti, but also Guadeloupe — and/or Louisiana. But creoles are actually any stable language (meaning it has native speakers) with an advanced vocabulary and grammar structure (not pidgin) that emerged suddenly at a specific point in time and is influenced by another language or languages. Creole languages exist almost exclusively in former colonial territories and developed, necessarily, as lingua francas. Linguists estimate around 100 creoles have emerged since 1500. Technically speaking, Afrikaans is a creole language, developed in South Africa in the late 17th century and incorporating aspects of Southern African languages into Dutch, though it is more typically considered a daughter language to Dutch.

For academic sources (journal articles) on creole languages, see here,  here, and here.

For quicker, less detailed reading on creole languages, see herehere, and here.

*For the record, the best information we could find came from the Australian incarnation of the show and involves surprisingly little — mostly, the ability to carry a small amount of weight over a short distance, to get up from a prone position on your own power, to squat and recover…basically everyday motions we all execute without much thought.

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