Talk:Creole language

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See also Talk:Creole peoples.

Pidgins, patois, creoles, lingua francas - defined[edit]

This section was moved here from Talk:Creole peoples --Jorge Stolfi (talk) 02:29, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

OK, what we were taught as students of language and linguistics 20 years ago for the JMB 'A'-Level English Language syllabus in the UK can be summarised as follows:

Linguae Franca[edit]

A Lingua Franca is a language adopted for trading purposes--buying food, clothes, bartering &c. They generally form because there is room for lexicalisation by gestural reference and have a simplified grammar. Franks and franking refer to the stamps on official currency when not referring to the currencies themselves.

There are no constraints on from which or how many languages the lexis of a lingua franca is drawn. It is simply any convention which was developed primarily for trade.


A pidgin is a simplified version of a given language, E.g. "pidgin English". The vocabulary of a pidgin, however, should be pretty much made up of words found within that language although much grammatical subtlety is lost. Inflections can simply reflect the word or verb, rather than be possessed of any morphological function.

Although it is now treated as a language in its own right now, Urdu was originally a simplified grammar facilitating communication between colonising Brits in India and their servants--although then as now there were English speakers in India and some of the English learnt Hindi. The lexis was originally Hindi but, allegedly quite simple, grammar was then extended into use in other areas of the subcontinent, hence Panjabi Urdu &c.


Creoles, or Krios, were originally a derogatory term as the etymology is from "Cry". Again with roots in Linguae Franca and/or pidgin forms, not only did the cry refer to the cries of the market traders but also to the perception of Creoles as "children's language".

Other than a mnemonic for the fact that when a new generation grows up speaking a pidgin as its first language it is classified as a Creole, there can be pejorative connotations, although most people don't think about these.

The accounts I've read so far miss out on the influence of Chinese and Polynesian languages in Creolisation, and also although nodding to the creative and flexible traits Creole languages have, fail to explicitly mention the effect of cognitive development through childhood and adolescence in terms of contributing to this facet of the language forms as used by adults.

As people grow up they find ways to reflect perceived reality in all its subtlety via language; Creoles are language forms which have this depth and evocative capacity by growing and developing with their speakers from birth and becoming accurate paradigmatic prostheses to their speakers' experiences and aspirations, feelings and philosophies.


Some Carribbean ex-pats in the UK, particularly those of Jamaican origin, consider they speak Patois. Properly speaking, Patois is strictly a term linked to language forms with a strong French connection.

There are Patois in the British Isles--namely those of Jersey and Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, although the counting system is markedly Celtic in Origin. Similarly there is a Breton Patois in Normandy and the Gaelic spoken in Cornwall (compare Gael-Gaul, Gaelic-Gallic, Corn-Kern-Guern and quite where Runcorn fits into the equation...but I digress). As is noted in the relevant articles there are patois all over France and in the traditionally French parts of North America, most famously New Orleans.

Similarly, with its Latin and French terms, Welsh is a neat example of a linguistic convention that has become a language but is essentially a relexicalised version of an existing grammar--not that Windows' approach to diacritic typography as distinct from that Apple allowed is enhancing its accessibility to the wider British public. You try putting a circumflex over a "w" with MS-ware...again, hardly the point except as an example of hegemonious fordism hampering harmonious co-existence)

Back to the point: Caribbean Patois are Creoles, but specific to a given Island--Anyone not originally from the Atlantic Island group who has moved in Caribbean circles will be able to distinguish a Jamaican from a Barbadian or Trinidadian or Grenadian accent, and this is when people are simply speaking standard English with the accent of their home island.

Some Islands have Creoles, others have Patois.

As such a patois is perhaps better likened to a dialect given the widespread usage of the term in france, rather than a distinct language such as one finds in Spain with Catalan, Castilian, Catalonia and the notably unqique Basque, &c.

As such it's probably better to consider patois forms as subisdiary to whichever language they fall under, whether its a Creole with strong French roots or simply a regional dialect of French.


I am anticipating spending some focused time in an academic library within the next month or so so I shall get my linguistician's head on and drum up some verifiable bibliographic sources for what I'm saying.

Once the overlaps are harmonised, particularly where linguistic definitions of patois and creole are at odds with the popular perception of what is meant by the word.

E.g. Jamaicans speak Jamaican patois, which is a Creole, but is referred to as patois, as much as Guernsais patois is simply referred to as patois in the Islands, despite Jamaican patois actually being basically a Creolised English making innovative use of archiac durative copulae forms such as are found in Chaucer, Shakespeare and The King James Bible and Apocrypha. Yet Haitian, I gather, is rather more overtly French yet is referred to as Creole rather than patois, whether one is in Haiti or New Orleans.

As the Caribbean archipelago is a massive island chain I can only illustrate with examples from those island cultures it's been my honour to engage in enough conversation with to infer some generalisations and an authoritative perspective will be capitulated to without question.

However, the technical distinctions as understood by linguisticians, between pidgins, lingua francas, creoles and patois suggest that the articles need to be sensibly cross-referenced and will be subject to people jumping in editing things in and out without cross-checking to a much greater extent than other wiki entries will be.


Actually Graphitus, patois is fairly derogatory term for French languages and dialects, Occitan was called patois even though it has a literary history dating back to the troubadours. French used the term patois to mock, the fact is that people saw speaking the dialects and other languages as being un-French.. [2]

They still do refer to them as patois but it's less pronounced these days..Domsta333 09:29, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

Actually, many regions of France have their own patois and patois is not a derogatory term.
  • Jamaicans do not speak a creole they speak a patois

and Haitians don’t speak a creole we speak a patois that is called creole “comprenez-vous?” During colonial times Creole was called patois it later became known as creole because we are creoles. a creole speaks creole just as a French person speaks French. It's not so complicated to understand but Americans and other foreign linguists or whatever try to make things so difficult with unnecessary categories. The word patois is a french term which means a local way of speaking (an informal way of speaking) or façon de parler. Remember that many French words entered the English language and patois is one of them that is why Jamaicans use that term to refer to their local speech.

Neutrality of the article[edit]

I'm a trained linguist and creolist. As it is, the entire article creole language is heavily biased in favor of views which date back to a 1971 conference on pidginization and creolization organized by Dell Hymes. A case in point is the very introductory paragraph:

A creole language, or simply a creole, is a stable language that originated from a non-trivial combination of two or more languages, typically with many features that are not inherited from any parent. Two ways of development of a creole are discussed in the literature: nativization of a pidgin (e.g. Tok Pisin) and gradual development (e.g. Mauritian Creole).

To put some balance into to this and air some more recent views, I added:

However, efforts to conceive a yardstick for measuring creoleness in any scientifically meaningful way have failed so far.[1] The answer might be that creoleness is better described and referred to as a syndrome, a combination of phenomena seen in association with little inherent unity. In some cases, the modified source language might be the substrate language when warranted by a homogeneous substrate; in other cases, the modified source language clearly is what creolists identify as the superstrate language; and in still other cases, no single source language might be identifiable. The same approach must be applied to identifying indiviual features as inherited or non-inherited and to distilling the defining grounds which separate creole languages from mixed languages such as Michif. Noula69 01:24, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

To my surprise, my contribution was blanked minutes later by an individual, TenIslands, who takes himself to be the guardian of the ideological correctness of the creole page. As can be seen from the history of the post, it isn't the first time that contributions are blanked by this individual. In a Revision as of 08:27, 26 June 2007, the following comment added to a paragraph ostensibly already marked as citation needed was blanked:

This information, though attempting to show the prejudice of the word, is biased. It is proven uncited and the word Creole is used to describe dialects, such as Atlantic Creole, etc. as a universal standard to describe dialects in a scientific manner.

No explanation was ever offered on the appropriate talk page to indicate that the blankings should not be considered as vandalism.

The same user blanked French Creoles in favor of French-based creole languages though the very term French-based is the expression of a phylogenetic bias which is not shared by a majority of scholars in the field. Noula69 01:27, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

A very clear "that's not true" was given in the edit summary. Sounds like you've gotta source it before you include it again. That shouldn't be too difficult for someone of your training. While TenIslands's methods are a bit abrasive, he is making good faith attempts at keeping this page from getting in worse shape than it is. The removal of the anon's edits was the removal of unsourced analysis (i.e. original research). Please don't accuse others of vandalism for contentious edits, as it violates WP:AGF and WP:CIV. Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 07:37, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
An unsourced "that's not true" in the edit summary is not sufficient for blanking inconvenient hypotheses which were, as it is, sufficiently sourced with added references to the bibliography. "TenIsland's methods", on the other hand, are not merely "a bit abrasive" but outright biased and even unsourced. Noula69 10:52, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, friend, the burden falls upon those wishing to include information, not remove it. I see now that you've added a lot more sourcing, which is good. However, there is still some unsourced information that I find contradictory to what I've read about creoles. Namely, that French-based creoles are the outcome of normal language change, or that creoles can be arise out of something other than creolization of a pidgin. You also use the terms "creoleness" but the link to that word has nothing to do with creole languages (so we might need a definition of the term). Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 17:21, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
What I don't like is your attitude to this, as if you owned the place. If the burden were to lie where you'd want it to be, the whole article ought to have been removed for anecdotic bias and lack of sources. On the other hand, I think I understand your motivations and I do not hate what you're doing.
As it is, I have to be away for a while. Would you mind tend the gardens against vandals and continue to see what you can do to improve things? Thanks. Noula69 00:46, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Naturally. I certainly won't let anyone revert your changes until we have considerable discussion and consensus on the matter. When you get back, I would like you to clarify why you edited the article to say "Since the middle of the late 19th century, linguists have promulgated the idea that creole languages are in no way inferior to other languages" while Hymes (1971) says that, before the 1930s, linguists considered pidgins and creoles as marginal languages at best. Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 05:06, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. Though I'm not back yet, let me answer your query. Dell Hymes was a (linguistic) anthropologist marginally interested in creoles though very much imbued with his importance as the organizer of the 1968 conference. Like most American anthropologists (and even linguists) of his days, he couldn't read the relevant literature written in languages other than English (languages such as German and French which were the academic languages used for linguistic subjects up to then or something like that in the aftermath of WWII). So, he didn't now about Schuchardt or any of the other creolists who worked on pidgins and creoles before America discovered that these things existed. Even linguistics as a whole in the Americas goes back to Bloomfield 1933 at the earliest and the first linguistics departments came about thirty years later. Best.Noula69 23:42, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Ahh. It's so odd then that Wardhaugh (2002) doesn't question Hymes's judgmentƵ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 06:45, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
Wardhaugh's book is intended as a standard textbook for introductory courses in sociolinguistics, not in creolistics. It offers broad coverage in 16 chapters with just one devoted to pidgins and creoles. He couldn't have done more than some gleaning and the outcome shouldn't be surprising. No one is perfect. Noula69 10:57, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

The individual Noula69 takes himself to be the guardian of the scientific correctness of the creole page. Many of his contributions are biased and reveal a certain point of view, not allowing the exhibition of different points of view in order to assure the neutrality of the article. I am presently without a computer at home, so I'm not capable of explain myself thoroughly. But as soon as I'll have the time, I will gladly show my explanations in order to assure the neutrality of the article. TenIslands 12:47, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

May I remind the individual TenIslands that when I first got here the creole page was utterly unsourced with room for only one theory, TenIslands' own Gradualist and Developmental Hypothesis? In the meantime, room was made for the presentation of four different families of current theories, including his own. The theory he subscribes to was left unchanged for him to develop to his taste. The page is now more fully sourced except for the sections that wait for his attention according to his theoretical bias. What does he want to do to "assure the neutrality" of the article? Revert to the stade where his theory was the only one current on the page to explain Creole languages? Noula69 20:04, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

"Mechanical" concerns and tag requesting[edit]

On 01:17, 10 September 2007, the article Creole language as a whole got tagged on two counts, by one user Kemet. There were no edit summaries in sight and no reason were given on any of these counts on this talk page or elsewhere. What is more, this user's own Talk page turned out to be a heap of complaints about his disruptive editing all over Wikipedia and none of these complaints seemed to have attracted his attention in any way. So I reverted his edit and added a warning to this user's Talk page. In the meantime, this user has reverted again my edit, putting one of the tags back on top of the article as whole, with an edit summary he left on my own User page.

I'm moving the relevant messages pertaining to this dispute right here to this talk page so that the whole community of contributing editors who may be concerned, working on this or related articles, might be able to react. What follows here are my original warning to him, his response, and my reactions to his queries. Noula69 10:09, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

My warning (moved from the page User talk:Kemet)[edit]

My concerns here are similar to the preceding ones under Multiracial. You tagged the page Creole language with the {{expert}} and {{sources}} banners at the top without using edit summaries or the Talk page to motivate your objections even though the expert banner specifically indicates: "See the talk page for details." As it is, I am an expert on the subject under review and I have been giving this article the attention it needed to warrant the removal of the neutrality (disputed) banner. I have reverted your edit. I also note that all your messages on your User talk page are without exception highly critical of your interfering in other people's edits. Please use the sandbox for any other editing tests you want to do. Noula69 05:18, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

His response (moved from the User:Noula69 page)[edit]

Hello, if you have carefully read all of my contributions on the talk pages, then you will have noticed that my initial comments emphasize the mechanical concerns of articles, call attention to useless comments, and occasionally responsed to hypersensitive people who take critiques too personally; your characterization is distorted. Since you self-identify as an expert, then I will take the time to explain my misgivings, such as: (1) The etymology of "creole." It is derived from the Spanish and Portuguese "criado," or (literally "raised"), indicating a dependent of an affluent household (socially considered "minors"), suggesting the lower social status of those born in the Americas, because it was argued that the American climates negatively affected the physical and intellectual condition of those born there (yes it sounds irrational). The term "creole" applied to ALL American-born non-natives, including Africans until the nineteenth century, so the European-creole elision is retroactive essentialism. (2) Under "Recognition and renaissance," what are the sources of your assertion? (3) Same question for the first paragraph of the section "Substrate and superstrate"---for those of us who are unfamiliar with these terms (such as I), it would be helpful to more clearly explain these terms, and since it ISN'T common knowledge, then citations are needed. (4) The first paragraph of the section "Shared features" is inconsistent in its citations; the first sentence contains weasel words and needs to be substantiated. (5) The section "Gradualist and developmental hypotheses" is also inconsistent in its citations.

I stand by my tag requesting more verification and sources, and will re-insert it. The citations that are given are fine, but again, since you self-identify as an expert, I would suggest that you keep in mind the (inexpert) general audience that would appreciate more careful citations and brief, cogent definitions of the specialized vocabulary. In the future, I will enter suggestions in the talk page before I insert tags. Kemet 14:48, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

My reaction[edit]

(1) Etymology of creole. I do not understand what you mean by American-born natives or European Creole elision as retroactive essentialism. The term creole came into use in colonial settings where Spanish, Portuguese and French language usage prevailed and spilled over into English about the time the U.S. bought Louisiana from the French. In this context, where people were called Creoles in such places as the Indian Ocean, American-born non-natives has little sense. Maybe your concerns could be aired in a more useful way in articles on Créolité, Creole peoples or Creole elites which are not strictly linguistic in nature. (2) Recognition and renaissance. I moved your tag as "refimprovesect" to the top of this section so that the concerned editors might act on this. (3) Substrate and superstrate. I added at the top of this section the reference: main article: substratum. (4) Shared features. Though there is already a reference to a main article, Syntactic similarities of creoles, I added the "weasel" tag to the top of this section. Anyway, the whole corresponding main article is in need of reediting to get rid of its theory-oriented bias. After all, it's a moot question whether the similarities are due to the workings of some creoleness parameter, to superstrate-substrate influence, or to universals of language change. (5) Gradualist and developmental hypotheses. This section had been demoted from section status to sub-section under a neutrality challenge. I added the "refimprovesect" tag to the top of this section so that the concerned editors might review its content or even move it to a new article leaving a shorter résumé in its place. Noula69 10:09, 11 September 2007 (UTC)


Thank you for the clarification, and I am satisfied. Do not take critiques personally; since this a public reference source, then you should expect regular critiques and suggestions for improvement. As for the Creole issue, I brought it up since your original discussion of its origin was incorrect, which of course should have been brought to your attention. In response to your last message to me "As it is, I will have to go through the trouble of reviewing all your contributions given the admittedly contested nature of your editing procedures. In the meantime, I would appreciate you refraining from doing any other edits. Thank you," have fun, but you are not authorized to request that other people don't edit, especially, as I already communicated, I will include my reasoning in the discussion pages before placing future tags. Kemet 14:28, 11 September 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kemet (talkcontribs)

It's not unreasonable to ask someone to not make edits to an article, but that's more in the context of "let's figure it out in the talk page first." Asking someone not to edit an article because you want to review how contentious an editor they are isn't a very good reason. Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 17:51, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
It's the privilege of any editor to review the contributions of other editors and to report presumptively hostile editing and related incidents on the appropriate lists. Kindly refer yourselves to the action I have taken on this account on the Administrators' noticeboard. Thanks. Noula69 11:22, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

Recent developments section[edit]

I appreciate the decision to have Arends et al as a guideline for the structure of this article. Since this book is now 12 years old, it does not include more recent developments. In order not to disrupt the overall structure, I have added the recent developments to the end. I have given the most prominent sources for these claims as a start, but I can find some more specific ones, just in case someone feels that these things are nonsensical.
I will be away to a conference until the end of this month, and I trust my fellow editors that a fortnight's absence will be tolerated until I can provide more specific bibliographic references.
There are some topics missing, e.g. the rise of L2A as a paradigm, but there is room to add that in.
There is also some overlap with preceding sections, so we will have to find a way how to deal with Arends et al and the current research So long Jasy jatere 13:27, 19 September 2007 (UTC)


A creole language, or simply a creole, is a stable language that originates seemingly as a "new" language, sometimes with features that are not inherited from any apparent source, without however qualifying in any appreciable way as a mixed language.

The current definition sentence says at least twice what a creole isn't (namely, it isn't what everybody has been saying it was). But as far as I can see, it doesn't say what it is. If the Flying Spaghetti Monster creates a new language out of the blue, it would seem to fit the current definition. Compare the crystal clear definition of Britannica [3] "Any pidgin language that has become established as the native language of a speech community" (hopelessly outdated, I presume?) and Encarta [4] "a language that began as a pidgin but has become the native language of a community" (likewise outdated?), and any other general reference tool (, as well as the Wikipedias in other languages such as German, French and Spanish. All of these may be wrong or biased, but at least they say something, whereas the current definition says practically nothing.

Also, the "however" in the sentence puzzles me, because the bit before it and the bit after it are not opposed to each other and are both vehement denials of the usual definition.-- (talk) 19:03, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Hmmm, there is perhaps something missing. I think the notion that is User:Noula69 has added to the page earlier this year is that it's not actually certain if creoles all come from pidgins. What do you suggest we do to clarify it in that first paragraph? Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 21:11, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, as I said, I have no idea what is "true" or even accepted in modern scholarship apart from what I'm reading here and in the other reference tools above, so I can't be very helpful here. Now, if we take what you're saying, obviously the simplest way to put it is to write that: 1. a creole is commonly defined as a nativized pidgin, but 2. it's not certain/it is disputed whether all creoles come from pidgins. However, this makes little sense - if we still call them creoles despite their not coming from pidgins, then we clearly have another definition in mind. And what is that definition? No idea. Reading the article, I get the impression that it is uncontroversial that a creole language is 1.a native language; and 2.originating, OK maybe not entirely, but at least to a significant extent, from a mixture of sorts. But a generalization/synthesis of this type would need to be sourced (by the way, the current one isn't sourced either). Mentioning and sourcing both the traditional definition and the "anti-traditional" one separately would probably be easier, but unfortunately I don't know what the meaningful "anti-traditional" one would be (maybe "creoles are a myth"?) and whether it exists so as to be sourced. So it's the usual thing - you have to be acquainted with the material, but people who are also tend to have a strong POV which reflects on their edits. -- (talk) 00:36, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

The current definition is: A creole language, or simply a creole, is a stable natural language developed from the mixing of parent languages. So that makes English a creole, right? Mixture of Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse, French. If English is not regarded as a creole then the definition of creole needs to be a bit tighter.06:35, 8 July 2013 (UTC)


Currently, the article has a few sections that end in something like "Sources: McWhorter 1998, 2001, 2005, Linguistic Typology 5 2/3 (2001), Wittmann 1999." While these sources are listed in the bibliography, I think we need to use inline citation so we know what is being sourced and what isn't. Knowing the page numbers is also important. Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 03:46, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

I've replaced the refimprove tag with citations needed - in the notes section. —Viriditas | Talk 10:18, 2 February 2008 (UTC)


I read the intro several times and still only have a vague idea of what this article is about. It jumps directly into a debate without giving a primer on what the context is. Is this a type of language or a specific language, and if it's specific, who speaks it? Am I the only one getting confused? Vicarious (talk) 19:11, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

You're not the only one (see #Definition above). Not sure how to remedy your confusion since it seems fairly clear to me (someone who's familiar with the subject). — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 19:42, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Damn, I shouldn't have disclosed that I wasn't. Then you would have paid attention to what the "definition" sentence literally says, when context-free - namely that a creole language is any language created from nothing by the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Shouldn't be much to ask from a linguist, either.-- (talk) 20:59, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, there's no evidence refuting FSM intervention. The Flying Spaghetti Monster has nothing if not a sense of humor. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 22:57, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
The joke had a point. Anyway, let me try this approach then: the definition is uncited, so I'm placing a {{Fact}} tag.-- (talk) 12:28, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I've tried to address some of the issues of concern here. I would appreciate some help though in the cross-referencing, especially as far as the FSM definition (a def. as valid as any other) is concerned. Eklir (talk) 00:29, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
I didn't pay close attention to your edits until I noticed that one definition of creole is "any language created from nothing by the Flying Spaghetti Monster or any other force to foster in-group cohesion." Don't disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point. While I must assume good faith on your part, I don't have to assume competence. I'm deleting that section and expect inline citations for any further edits that you make. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 22:09, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

I'd just like it to be clear that I'm not Eklir, though I'm flattered by the fact that he used my wording. :) However, in the process of introducing it, he also removed my citation request for the definition sentence, so I'm going to restore it together with the hidden explanation. The sentence is still uncited and I still insist that it sounds very strange, makes little sense and is possibly POV (at least some linguists seem to think a creole can "qualify as a mixed language" at least in some "appreciable way"). -- (talk) 18:24, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

All right, I've addressed your concern. I was hoping User:Noula69 would come back to defend his edits (see above) to that lead section, but he has not. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 21:05, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
OK. Now, as far as I understand, Noula is or represents the views of linguist Henri Wittmann,, whose papers he also cites. It's great that the article is edited by an expert. But it is also very important to preserve the neutrality of the article, without presenting Wittmanns's view as the only true one. This concerns in particular the definition sentence - whatever it is, it needs to be sourced in a way that shows that it is not contested and does not take a side in the scholarly debate which clearly exists and in which Wittmann is a part. The same applies to other general statements. For example, "Prototype as a typological yardstick to creoleness" (1999) ( is obviously part of a rather heated online discussion (the heatedness can be illustrated by the fact that Wittmann called his opponents such as McWhorter "true believers that can't be outargued in any useful scientific fashion"). Obviously this type of publication shouldn't be used as a single source for the claim that "efforts to define creoles in any meaningful way have failed", because it only shows that Wittmann thinks that, while McWhorter apparently strongly disagreed with the opinion that his efforts had failed; rather, the article needs a source showing which view, if any, is generally or at least most widely accepted today. -- (talk) 12:02, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Recent cleanup[edit]

I did a comb through and some questions came up:

  1. There are a number of references to what looks like an online forum amongst linguists. This doesn't feel reliable enough and I'm having difficulty converting to harvard referencing. Can somebody clarify this stuff?
  2. What are "external history" and "internal history"?
  3. "Particularly troubling is the evidence that…" troubling to whom?
  4. I've removed this text:

Taylor's latest revision of the facts[2] relating to the similarities in grammatical structure among the Atlantic creoles seem striking, especially when taking into account that these creoles evolved mostly in communities which were isolated from one another. However, as it is, the data is open to be reclaimed to abet the African substratum hypothesis of Michael Parkvall (2000) or is open to challenge with data from non-creole congeners besides being readable in a universalist perspective à la Bickerton

It doesn’t make sense partly because it relies on the reader knowing what Taylor’s revisions are and partly because it uses a dense style. This needs clarification before we put it back in.

I'll probably come up with more questions as I go through the rest of the article.— Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 23:57, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

I've also removed

"In some cases, the modified source language might be the substrate language when warranted by a homogeneous substrate;[3] in other cases, the modified source language clearly is what creolists identify as the superstrate language;[4] In some examples, no single source language can be identifiable.[5]
The same approach must be applied to identifying individual features as inherited or non-inherited and to separating the qualities of of creole languages from mixed languages such as Michif, especially when relexification is somehow claimed to be an important aspect.[6]
they don't make much all that much sense.— Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 21:00, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
Hm, I think I can imagine what the first of the two paragraphs means, except that the third reference (DeGraff 2001: On the origin of Creoles: A Cartesian critique of Neo-Darwinian linguistics, [5]) seems unsuitable in partly the same way as the Wittmann Linguist List post. The statement that Creoles may have no single source language is a little puzzling per se. Now, a brief survey of the cited essay, starting from the introductory sentences, shows that it is intended to be a "revolutionary" text, deconstructing the mainstream myths, debunking the "ancient" and "prevalent dogma in Creolistics". This is all very nice, but "the prevalent dogma" among experts, right or wrong, is precisely what is supposed to prevail on Wikipedia, because the NPOV policy specifies that all significant views should be reflected in proportion to their prevalence. An encyclopedia and especially Wikipedia is much more "conservative" and less "creative" than a scholarly article, even though one might be misled by the superficially similar referencing style. A radical scholarly critique of the mainstream view should be mentioned, but not described as true and correct, nor used to support unusual or key statements. -- (talk) 12:32, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure where to put this or who I should approach about this, but the link in the first paragraph to Robert Hall doesn't seem to make much sense.


Konrad Rybka has created some articles detailing several theories of Creole genesis. I suggest we merge these articles into this one once we've eliminated the "essay" style that they're written in and unsourced statements. These are the articles I'm referring to

I've gone through the first two and cleaned them up, so they're ready to merge (though one could argue that the second one is developed enough to be its own article). Thoughts? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 01:05, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

All right, I've merged the ones I think should be merged. The bioprogram article seems strong enough to stand on its own (especially with the nifty table that I added). — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 19:37, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Nativized pidgin[edit]

Really, for someone who has no background in linguistics, they'll have a seriously difficult time trying to understand what the first sentence of the introduction means (without clicking on those links, that is). Can we maybe change its definition to something slightly simpler? And it is true that in some instances "creole" simply means the combination of more than one language. Colipon+(T) 05:33, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a reader to click on a link to get an understanding of "pidgin" if they don't already have one. That's one of the main reasons we have such links. There's just no lay word or phrase that's equivalent. As for nativization, we could instead say "...a stable language that originates seemingly as a pidgin that has aquired native speakers." — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 19:11, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

Source for "internal" and "external" history? (Problem solved; see Internal history.)[edit]

Kotabatubara (talk) 20:13, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Whose creole problem[edit]

It looks like there is some bug where it says "monkey booty" in the "Classification of creoles> Whose creole problem" section —Preceding unsigned comment added by Interfaced (talkcontribs) 22:26, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

I don't see it. I guess the problem has been fixed. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 22:34, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

Creole in Vice City[edit]

In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City guide book, creole language is mentioned as an official language in little haiti. I'm not sure if it's mentioned on the article but in the guide there is tottaly. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:05, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

That hardly seems notable. Plus, it's actually a reference to Haitian Creole. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 06:21, 4 March 2009 (UTC)

Imperfect L2 learning[edit]

I have some objections to the presentation of this section.

(1) What is "L2 learning"? The term is not described in the article, and the uninformed reader must do a separate search to find its meaning. Perhaps it should be rewritten as "second language learning" or some such.

(2) The first sentence of this section assumes what might be too specific a context:

"The imperfect L2 learning hypothesis claims that pidgins are primarily the result of the imperfect L2 learning of the dominant lexifier language by the slaves."

Not all pidgins arise from a slave-master relationship. Is the imperfect L2 learning hypothesis only attempting to describe pidgins that do arise from such a relationship? If so, this context should be made explicit. If not, then sentence should be changed. (Indeed, this is a concern that permeates the article as a whole: it seems to be assumed that the only creoles in existence are those formed from European interaction with Africans.)

Cpryby (talk) 13:14, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

Recent study/The creole prototype[edit]

The following claim is unsourced:

"Features that are said to be true of all (or most) creole languages are in fact true of all isolating languages."

I have tagged it as such. The sentence should also be rewritten to remove the weasel words "said to be."

Cpryby (talk) 13:22, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

it has repeatedly been claimed that the Creole Prototype is more indicative of isolating languages than of creoles, and that the "tonal criterion" was only included to get rid of otherwise annoying cases like Chinese. You find a lot of discussion of the relation between isolating languages and creoles in Linguistic Typology 5:2/3, that is from 2001. For the claim you tagged, one could use the following quote from Matthews&Ansaldo from the same issue (p.313)
"In a typological diachronic approach the class of creoles dissolves: creoles are a subset of isolating languages and each

of their properties are [sic] all attested in “non-creoles” as well."

That is not exactly the same as what is stated in the wp article now, but I think the two statements can be reconciled. Jasy jatere (talk) 08:42, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

The language hierarchy and the evolution of linguistic theory[edit]

As a mostly Chomskyian linguist, I am confused about the current definitions and wording of this page. During my time with coursework, I mostly studied Neurolinguistics and Syntax, so I'm definitely not an expert on Creoles and the theory of Language development and change. However, what I remember from talks by Creolists and Sociolinguists, as well as Psychologists and from Introduction to Linguistics, a Creole is typically not designated as a "language." During discussion, the most common term was just Creole. I specifically remember the termnology "creole language" as being discouraged. If this isn't universally agreed upon, it might be good to add some content to the page about this academic discussion.

My biggest concern is that from reading this, the article does not seem to represent modern Creole theory. This might be expected as most of the reference content and much of the related publications date back to the 60s and 70s. I may be off the mark by saying this, but I suspect that the hypotheses of language change and specifically creole formation vary as per different understandings of the language model, or, specifically, the relevance of Morphology. Especially after reading the introduction, I was offput. I'm sure that the theoretical existence of a unified morphological component or a Lexicon change how one can view the characteristics and formation of a Creole in terms of "words inherited from the parent languages."

In any case, reading this feels like reading a paper written fifty years ago written by an English "Grammarian." I am curious if anyone else feels a necessity to revamp the article -- specifically in the vain of updating the article to use language typically accepted by linguists and definitions of words as defined by linguistics (I'm mostly thinking of refining the usage of the word grammar, for instance). Dantiston (talk) 23:20, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Revamping seems fine. But I'm surprised if your creolist and sociolinguist friends tell you that creoles aren't languages or aren't real languages. I've heard that said in passing if pidgins, which modern understanding pegs as the predecessors of creoles, so maybe they're putting them in the same category since there isn't necessarily a fine line between them. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 18:35, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Alright, I'll try to make a list of some changes that jumped out at me. The more I think about it, I might have just been thinking of pidgins, though I definitely haven't heard someone say "creole language" before -- just a creole. That may have been what was throwing me off. Speaking of fine line, maybe there needs to be some discussion in the article about the differences. I know I think of a pidgin as secondary communication system between two or more groups of people. The creolization then typically happens when the pidgin is taught to children, and the children gather and make it into their own native language. Of course it's a process, so there's still not distinct point of juncture, but there is definitely a difference.Dantiston (talk) 05:45, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
There are several Creoles in Australia and all of my colleagues who work on them certainly describe them as being languages. In fact, that's part of the definition of the technical term 'Creole'. Another point, which should I think be in the introduction to the article, is that 'Creole' is a term used in Linguistics to refer to a language that has developed from a Pidgin, which is (again, by definition) not a true language but rather a simplified system of communication used between people who only have irregular or limited contact, but need some level of communication (the usual example is occasional trade contact). This definition is necessary to distinguish Creoles from Mixed Languages, and both of those from language shift situations (where people speaking one language shift to using another, but their original 'substrate' language has effects which result in changes in the language towards which the shift occurs, the 'superstrate'). The various Creolization theories try to address the questions of how/why the extraordinary development from Pidgin to Creole occurs, and why Creoles seem to have so much in common, despite the very diverse background linguistic situations.
While the above is, to some extent, mentioned in the 'Overview' para, I think it should be summarised as clearly as possible for the intro para. For some reason the emphasis seems to be on accurately representing modern theory regards Creoles, but I think we should also make the intro easy for non-specialists to understand--most of them will just read the intro and move on. Dougg (talk) 02:58, 21 March 2010 (UTC)


I think this article could use a map showing places in the world where creole languages are prevalent. It seemed odd to me that it didn't already have one. (talk) 17:27, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

Photo for consideration of inclusion illustrating Guadeloupe creole[edit]


Slow down! Children are playing here!

I noticed this article has no figures or photos, which makes it kind of boring to read (sorry to say). I took this photo of a road sign in Guadeloupe, and I think it is an instructive example of the metaphoric character of creole languages - in this case Guadeloupe Creole. However, I am biased myself, and would rather want an uninvolved editor to consider if it is relevant and how it could be incorporated in the article. --Slaunger (talk) 09:38, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

Oh, well, I tried boldly to insert it. --Slaunger (talk) 19:54, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

The description of that image now reads: Road sign in Guadeloupe Creole meaning Slow down. Children are playing here. The literal translation is "Lift your foot. Small people are playing here" showing the metaphoric character of the language. I think there's something wrong with that. It says it shows the "metaphoric character" of the language, yet there's no metaphor in it. Instead, it seems to be much more "literal minded" than the translation "Slow down. Children are playing here." - "Lift your foot", referring to the gas pedal and also "small people" describing children. So, I think that should be changed. I'm not saying that language does not have a metaphoric character, but that sign certainly doesn't show it. Or maybe the term really should be "vividness" or something like that, not "metaphoric character"? I am not sure with what to replace that formulation, so I didn't change anything yet and instead put it up for consideration here. (talk) 05:09, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

I think your are correct that metaphoric is not the right word in this context. It was mentioned as a characteristic in one of the translations in one of the links on the file page for the photo, and being linguisticaly ignorant myself, I took it for granted to be true, albeit I did not persoanlly undertstand why it was "metaphoric" myself. I have now removed that part of the figure caption as it is unclear and perhaps a false statement. I have also not seen it sourced that creole languages are metaphoric. --Slaunger (talk) 10:25, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

Lack of Cohesion with Pidgin page[edit]

While this subject/page definitely seems to me to be a bit more thorough and complicated than the Pidgin page, the two pages don't seem to quite synch up. In fact, this Creole page seems to be a bit more focused on what appear to be old and outdated theories of Creoles, creole creation, creole development, etc. which may be misleading. I'm not a linguist, so I don't feel I should be editing this too much, but I'm going to try to do some editing to add information, especially from the last paragraph of the Pidgin article which reads:

"Other scholars, such as Salikoko Mufwene, argue that pidgins and creoles arise independently under different circumstances, and that a pidgin need not always precede a creole nor a creole evolve from a pidgin. Pidgins, according to Mufwene, emerged among trade colonies among "users who preserved their native vernaculars for their day-to-day interactions". Creoles, meanwhile, developed in settlement colonies in which speakers of a European language, often indentured servants whose language would be far from the standard in the first place, interacted extensively with non-European slaves, absorbing certain words and features from the slaves' non-European native languages, resulting in a heavily basilectalized version of the original language. These servants and slaves would come to use the creole as an everyday vernacular, rather than merely in situations in which contact with a speaker of the superstrate was necessary."

And, in fact, it appears that, based upon my own reading of the Creole article, the introduction is in great need of clean-up. Their appear to be controversies surrounding the definition and categorization of Creoles and so I"ll see what I can read and learn to try to improve the article, but it would probably be best if someone currently studying and with up-to-date knowledge on this article would expand it (Yes, an expert. Scary, right?). It seems best for wikipedia to try to maintain consistency and clarity, so perhaps clean up is necessary for this article, but, as I said, I'm not really knowledgeable in this area, so it may just have to be left up to someone who is an expert.

Zanotam (talk) 20:44, 10 June 2011 (UTC)
  1. ^ Henri Wittmann (2001). "Lexical diffusion and the glottogenetdebate, parts I-VI, appendixes 1-9. The Linguist List, Eastern Michigan University & Wayne State University.[1]
  2. ^ Taylor (1977:170-197)
  3. ^ Singler (1988:?)
  4. ^ Wittmann (2001)
  5. ^ DeGraff (2001:?)
  6. ^ DeGraff (2002:?)


Perhaps a list of creoles that have official status? BigSteve (talk) 08:12, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

Are there any? — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 17:48, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
Haitian Creole and Tok Pisin are the two that I can think of at the moment.--MacedonianBoy (talk) 17:58, 9 April 2012 (UTC)


This may be nitpicking, but is it really valid to say that the vocabulary consists of cognates? That term typically refers to words with common etymological origin. True, the term is used in foreign language acquisition often to refer collectively to historical cognates, loanwords, etc. Since creoles are not properly dialects of the superstrate(s) nor genetically related varieties, I think it would be more precise to say "words" (if we don't want to make the article extremely technical) or reword it like such:
"The vocabulary of a creole language is (largely supplied) by the parent languages"
Maybe I'm not looking at this issue clearly? Iank125 (talk) 18:59, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

Cognates isn't inaccurate, but it is more technical. I like your reword. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 19:27, 19 November 2012 (UTC)
Alright, I'll add it then.Iank125 (talk) 00:02, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

Postnominal articles[edit]

It was observed, in particular, that definite articles are mostly prenominal in English-based creole languages and English whereas they are generally postnominal in French creoles and in the variety of French that was exported to the colonies in the 17th and 18th century.

If the article is suggesting that Quebec French primarily uses postnominal definite articles, that is not correct. (talk) 22:52, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

You might want to read the article the note refers to (Fournier 1998[6]). It appears that the etymological definite articles no longer function as such taking on classifier functions remindful of some African languages whereas the syntactic segments signalling definiteness appear mostly in post nominal positions. (talk) 04:50, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

Regarding pidgin/creole grammar[edit]

My advisor once gave an interesting cautionary example: In Russenorsk, there is a tendency towards verb-finality (at least when adverbs are present in the sentence), a feature which is found neither in Russian nor in Norwegian. Universalists/exceptionalists are quick to point to such examples as evidence that there is some kind of innate grammar default which comes to the fore here, but the real reason is different according to him (if I remember this correctly): There is a stereotype in Russian that foreigner talk is verb-final, so this supposedly influenced the rise of this feature in Russenork. The origin of this stereotype, however, is not found in Northern Europe but in Central Asia, where native speakers of Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic languages tended to carry verb-finality from their L1 into Russian. (Also compare Kyakhta Russian–Chinese Pidgin.) Also, I remember now that another prof mentioned that the Russian spoken in Dagestan typically occurs in a pidginised or in any case morphologically strongly impoverished form, but it was not formed by direct contact between Russian and local Northeast Caucasian languages, but by contact of Russian with Kumyk, the traditional lingua franca of the region. Again, a researcher not aware of these complications could come to wrong conclusions. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 00:11, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

Definition in lead is contradicted in article[edit]

The lead defines a creole as follows:

"a creole is a stable, natural language that has developed from a pidgin"

However, in the overview section it is stated:

"Other scholars, such as Salikoko Mufwene, argue that pidgins and creoles arise independently under different circumstances, and that a pidgin need not always precede a creole nor a creole evolve from a pidgin."

Thus it would appear that the origin of creoles is a (debated) detail/aspect of creoles rather than the essence of what a creole is. Which begs the question - what exactly is (the definition of) a creole? Yaakovaryeh (talk) 16:15, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

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