Re: Is English a creole? (was: Indo-European Studies)

Coby (coby@euler.Berkeley.EDU)
23 Jul 1995 00:22:34 GMT

In article <3upepu$>,
Anthea F Gupta <> wrote:

> Some people (e.g. Bickerton) define creole very strictly as language
>which arose when people started speaking a pidgin (very limited language,
>informally learnt & used for inter-group contact of a basic sort) to
>their children. On this definition Modern Standard English is definitely
>not a creole.
> Other people (e.g. C-J Bailey) define it very loosely, as any language
>which has had substantial influence from another language. In this case
>ModStdE is definitely a creole.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said ... , "it means just
what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less."
The problem with this attitude that sooner or later a word
may stop having any meaning at all. Hardly any language has not "had
substantial influence from another language." The Bickerton
definition is of great sociolinguistic value, which it would be a
shame to lose. The distinction between the many variants of modern
(not necessary standard) English and English-based creoles is quite