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Glossary of Pidgin and Creole Terms D-F

by María Rosa Fernández Bell and Glenn Gilbert
Editing by Alicia Spiegel and Jeffery Parsell

decreolization – A process of change in which a creole "gradually merges with the corresponding standard language." (R: 157) It occurs whenever a creole language is in direct contact with its superstrate." (R: 158). Antonym: recreolization.

defective tense hypothesis – It "predicts that in the early stages of acquisition only inherent aspectual distinctions are encoded by verbal morphology and not tense or grammatical aspect ... not only is aspect prior to tense, but emerging tense morphology is defective in its function since it does not encode deitic relations." However, "other studies of first language acquisition have not demonstrated the priority of aspectual over tense marking." (R: 281) The same disagreement is found in creole studies.

deitic theory of discourse reference – Some linguistic elements, like demonstrative pronouns and adverbs and other referring expressions (you, now, here), can be used to alert the listener to a referent. They are called "deitic forms" (C: 418) In pidgins and creoles, relativizers often are deitics.

diachronic vs. synchronic history – Diachronic linguistics is "the study of development of language and languages over time: (C: 422), also historical linguistics. It contrasts with synchronic linguistics, "an approach that studies language at a theoretical 'point' in time." (C: 431) Givón says that creoles do not have diachronic, only ontogenic history. (See ontogeny vs. phylogeny.)

diagrammatic iconic relation – "A systematic arrangement of signs, none of which necessarily resembles its referent, but whose relationships to each other mirror the relationship to their referents." (R: 35) It is exhibited by grammatical languages. In Tok Pisin, for example, the words gras 'grass', mausgras 'moustache', gras belong fes 'beard', and gras belong pisin 'feather' present this kind of relation among them, "which is expressed by the fact that they are all encoded by means of constructions incorporating the word gras ... One could say that gras has the same relationship to the ground or earth that feathers have to a bird, a beard to a face, etc." (R: 35–36).

dichotic listening test – A test in which subjects receive different auditory stimul in each ear . . . These tests are arguably not the best and most reliable measures of language lateralization.

dimensionality – A way of explaining the creole continuum visually. The uni-dimensional model assumes that a single linear division is enough to order the mesolects, while the multi-dimensional model argues for both vertical and horizontal dimensions. (See also creoleness vs. standardness.)

discontinuity – This has to do with the disruption of continuity which distinguishes creoles. There is "a disruption of grammatical input patterns on every linguistic level." Creoles then generate "new grammatical, particularly syntactic innovations." (R: 53) "The discontinuous developments of pidgins and creoles are not marginal accidents, but, in all likelihood, constitutive of their nature." (M: 258) Similar to disruption. (See also catastrophic change.)

disruption – (See discontinuity.)

domain – "Certain institutional contexts in which one language variety is more likely to be appropiate than another. Domains are taken to be constellations of factors such as location, topic, and participants." (F: 183) While creoles are used in all domains, pidgins usually are restricted in their domains.

dominant language – "The most important language in a multilingual speech community. The language a bilingual knows best." (C: 419) (See dominant language, superstrate, and recessive vs. dominant language.)

double illusion – Also called "the illusion of double communication" (R: 122), it is found in the jargon stage. "The contact jargon is systematically relatable to both parties' native languages, and is perceived as a kind of lexical extension of some variant of the native grammatical system [e.g., the jargon between the French and Indians in Quebec in 1633] which was neither French nor Indian, and nevertheless when the French use it, they think they are speaking Indian, and the Indians in taking it up think they are speaking good French." (R: 120).

elaboration – In the process of creolization, according to Hymes, elaboration involves two aspects: an expansion of inner form and complexification of outer form (see inner vs. outer form).

embedded questions – A question inserted within another (She does not know where he is). Pidgins lack question inversion and some language learners also do (She does not know where is he / What this is?). This is attributed to the pidginization hypothesis of second language learning. (R: 213–214)

embeddedness vs. focus – These two factors contribute to the complexity of relative clauses. "Embeddedness varies according to the function in the matrix sentence of the antecedent NP modified by the relative clause, while the focus varies according to the function in the relative clause itself of the relativized element." (R: 232) According to this, some constructions can be subject- or object- embedded relatives, and subject- or object- focus relatives. "It has been proposed that there is a relation between ease of processing and the order in which children acquire these four types of relative clause . . . researchers have claimed that object-embedded relativization is easier than subject-embedded relativization . . . but the experimental literature has produced conflicting findings." (R: 233–234) (See also accessibility hierarchy.)

equating verb – A verb that relates two elements that are identical in meaning. In patois, it is the copula a used before nominals Di first one a me woman 'The first one is my woman'.

ergative language – "Languages which have a construction where the object of a transitive verb and the subject of an intransitive verb are in the same case." (C: 420) The distinction causative/noncausative is marked on the subject in these languages.

error analysis – "An analysis of the actual errors produced by particular learners," which (in conjunction with contrastive analysis — a means of comparing two languages in order to pinpoint the areas of difference and similarity) "was used to predict and/or account for the problems and errors likely to result in the learning of a particular language by a learner with a given language background." (R: 206) It formed the basis for transfer theory.

evidential vs. non-evidential – This distinction has to do with whether the speaker has had a direct or an indirect experience of an event. Depending on this distinction, the speaker will use different morphemes as markers. It is not one of the parameters of Bickerton's LBH.

expanded pidgin – A pidgin which never creolized, but it is standardized and used in all domains. It "has a complex grammar, a developing word formation component, and an increase in speech tempo. It is used in almost all domains of every-day life, for self-expression, word play, literature and is instrumental in providing cohesion in heterogeneous groups . . . the best known expanded pidgins are West African Pidgin English and Tok Pisin." (R: 138) Contrasts with first generation pidgin.

factorization principle – "Each invariant element of meaning should be expressed by at least one phonologically separate and invariant stress bearing form." (R: 276)

fertiges patois – Schuchardt makes a distinction between kein fertiges patois, which refers to a jargon, and ein fertiges patois, referring to an established pidgin. According to Reusch's claim (1895), Russenorsk would belong to the latter category, because it is "not a simple mixture of the two languages [Russian and Norwegian] which each individual makes up as best he can when he needs it, but it is really a fixed idiom." (R: 125)

finite verb – "A form of a verb that can occur on its own in a main clause and permits variations in tense, number, and mood (They ran, He is running); contrasts with non-finite." (C: 421)

first law of creole studies – According to Bickerton, "every creolist's analysis can be directly contradicted by the creolist's own texts and citations." (R: 274)

focalizing rules – A type of "grammatical device for non-referential purposes." (R: 156) (See referential vs. non-referential power of a language.)

focusing vs. diffusion – Terms used by Le Page in his characterization of the recreolization process, they are key concepts in his theory of language use. Focusing a language means to adopt fixed, regular patterns of speech which are consistent with that of a particular social group with which speakers identify, which is the case of young black Britons in London: "Adolescents whose parents or grandparents come from Caribbean islands other than Jamaica . . . appear to be adopting forms which are typical of Jamaican creole rather than those of other Caribbean creoles . . . a diffuse linguistic system is being focused" (R: 188). (See act of identity, assertion of identity, projection.)

foreigner talk – "The kind of language native speakers use to others whom they perceive to be less than fully competent in their language (and in this case specifically foreigners). "Since languages were thought to be learned by imitation, pidgins were said to reflect the foreigner-talk register used by speakers of the superordinate language when addressing uneducated foreigners." (M: 38) But "Mühlhäusler concludes that the importance of foreigner talk in pidgin formation is probably confined to the relatively early stages of development." (R: 81)

fossilization – Selinker calls fossilization the stage at which some language learners stopped learning because their interlanguage still contains some rules which are different from those of the target. (R: 210) (See also interference.)

founder principle – "This amounts to a set of features which are attested in a particular population not necessarily because the features were statistically dominant where the population originated but simply because they happened to have been dominant among the original settlers (i.e., the founder population) of the colony and therefore had a great chance of being transmitted to the settlers' offspring." (MUF: 198)