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Re: Language contact question

From:David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Date:Monday, February 5, 2007, 17:34
Thomas wrote:
(1) the fact
that both languages are highly inflected leads to the descendant,
"mixed" language retaining all this morphological complexity, despite
the fact that the parent languages are from different families, or (2)
the fact that the parent languages are from different families leads to
the descendant language being more of a creole, with loss of cases,
complicated verbal inflection, and the like?

The answer is "yes" to both.  Not all creoles lack case marking;
not all creoles are morphologically simplex.  All creoles are
morphologically *simpler* than any of the languages they draw
from, but a "simpler" language descended from the two types
of languages you describe will be much more complex than a
simpler language that draws from, say, English.  The resulting
language will probably have case, but probably a very small
number (two to three), and may inflect for person, but perhaps
not tense or number (depends on what the morphology looks
like).  If there are other strategies available to indicate tense
and number, they may be used in place of affixation.  The speakers
of this language, though, will only know languages with cases
and inflection, though, so they will reason that a language is
supposed to have cases and inflection, and will probably feel
funny speaking a language without any.  Kind of like with
Fanakalo.  Fanakalo speakers come from languages with noun
classifiers.  Fanakalo didn't have one, so the definite article has
been adopted as a kind of default noun classifier, in that no noun
can be used in any circumstance without it.

Related question: the Indo-European parent language has grammatical
gender, while the Uralic parent language does not. Would the descendant
language be likely to have or not have grammatical gender?

I'd say probably not.  Gender itself is kind of a nebulous thing,
in IE languages.  All it's there for, really, is agreement, and
agreement is one of the first things to go (and, not coincidentally,
it's one of the last thing's mastered by second language speakers).

On the subject of creoles, most of the information that's widely
available is based on a handful of creoles all based on English (or
French), and all of which may be related (there's a theory).  Making
generalizations about all creoles based on those is misleading, and,
consequently, many linguists have been misled.  Since no one
really cares much about creoles, save how they can be (ab)used
to further an unrelated point, that information is still out there.
Be wary!

"A male love inevivi i'ala'i oku i ue pokulu'ume o heki a."
"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."

-Jim Morrison