The Missing Spanish Creoles: Recovering the Birth of Plantation Contact Languages

By John H. McWhorter | Go to book overview

2
Where Are the
Spanish Creoles?

2.1 INTRODUCTION

Forty years of articles, books, dissertations, and presentations have enshrined limited access to a lexifier language as a driving force behind the emergence of plantation creoles. As noted in the previous chapter, while there is great variety among the genesis theories proposed in the field, all of them share the limited access conception as a pivotal component. It is important to recall, However, that the limited access mechanism has never been observed, and documentation sheds only the dimmest of light on the facts. Unlike, say, an interpretation of the causes of World War I, the limited access hypothesis springs not from an examination of empirical documentation, since this would be impossible, but simply from a natural interpretation of the fact that creoles are so often spoken in former plantation colonies, leading to the supposition that something about plantations created the creoles. It is a thoroughly plausible induction that demographic disproportion was the key.

However, what is plausible is not always true. Truth can be identified only via systematic testing, and the limited access conception has yet to be tested per se. To truly test it, creolists would have to search out as many plantation contexts as possible where demographic disproportion developed along the lines typical of European plantation colonies, and to ascertain that creoles have emerged in all or most such contexts.

When we actually test the limited access model in this fashion, we find that while superficially plausible when reconstructed for former English, French, Portuguese, or Dutch colonies, the model founders when applied to Spanish colonies. This is a first indication that a large-scale revision of creole genesis theory is necessary.

-6-

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The Missing Spanish Creoles: Recovering the Birth of Plantation Contact Languages
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Where Are the Spanish Creoles? 6
  • 3 - Sisters Under the Skin 41
  • 4 - Afrogenesis and the Atlantic English-Based Creoles 99
  • 5 - The French-Based Creoles 146
  • 6 - Synthesis 195
  • 7 - Conclusion 224
  • References 243
  • Index 265
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