Sociolinguistic Studies, Estudios de Sociolingüística 7.1 2006

Semantic primes in Atlantic Iberoromance-based Creoles: Superstrate continuity or innovation?

Angela Bartens, Niclas Sandström
Issued Date: 19 Apr 2007


Much of the literature on Creole languages has focused on their genesis. In this
study, we take the Natural Semantic Metalanguage framework as a starting point for
yet another genesis-oriented comparative study of f ive Iberoromance-based Creoles,
Kabuverdianu, São-Tomense, Angolar, Papiamentu and Palenquero. The proposal of
the NSM framework is to establish a natural semantic metalanguage consisting of aset of semantic primes common to and translatable into all languages. Whether these
semantic primes consist of items retained from the lexifier language, or whether they
have been taken from the sub- and/or adstrate can be argued to be of certain interest
to the debate on the origin and nature of Creole languages. Our results confirm our
initial hypothesis that the semantic primes of Creole languages are in their majority
derived from the corresponding lexifier language. Differences in the exact amount
of non-lex i fi e r- d e r ived primes roughly correspond to the amount of non-lex i fi e r
items in the Creole’s lexicon at large.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.v7i1.31


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