By John H. McWhorter
McWhorter draws on modern techniques of diachronic and sociolinguistic analysis to demonstrate an "Afrogenesis hypothesis". He shows how a single English-based pidgin originating in Africa developed into Atlantic English creoles, and how French-, Portuguese-, and Dutch- based creoles have African-pidgin origins. McWhorter's hypothesis explains why there are no Spanish-based creoles, even though slaves in many Spanish colonies had what was considered to be "limited access" to the lexifier: because Spain had no settlements on the West African coast there was no Spanish pidgin to bring to the New World.
The evidence that most New World creoles were imports traceable to West Africa strongly suggests that the well-established "limited access model" for plantation creole needs revision. In forcing a reexamination of this basic tenet, McWhorter's book will undoubtedly cause controversy. At the same time it makes available a vastamount of data that will be a valuable resource for further explorations of genesis theory.