CRISSP Seminar: Alain Kihm

CRISSP is happy to announce another installment in the CRISSP Seminar series:

Lecturer: Alain Kihm (CNRS – Université Paris 7)

Title: Noun phrases in Guinea-Bissau Kriyol and Nubi: a morphosyntactic and semantic-pragmatic comparison

Date & time: Monday October 7, 2013, 16.30-18.00

Location: CRISSP/KULeuven HUBrussel, Stormstraat 2 (Hermes building), room 4218

Participation: free

> Download the handout


A traditional method for studying systems is to put them under stress, so one can see how they react, thereby revealing something of their deep structure and elements. All hard sciences from physics to biology do it. In linguistics, we cannot really act upon the systems (the languages), but we can observe what happens when they change with time and/or because of new social conditions. The more drastic the change, the more revealing (perhaps) the observation. Pidginization and creolization are among the most drastic changes languages may endure.
    In this talk, I compare the morphosyntax and semantics of noun phrases in two creole languages, Guinea-Bissau Kriyol (GBK) and Nubi (NB). I will compare the two languages with each other and with their lexifiers, European Portuguese (EP) and Egyptian/Sudanic Arabic (E/SA) respectively, focusing on two features: definiteness and number. The comparison will show GBK and NB to differ in terms of morphosyntax, whereas they are remarkably alike semantically. More precisely, we shall see that, in the NP domain, GBK and NB have by and large preserved the morphosyntactic structures of  EP and E/SA, hence the gap, but they have converged onto similar semantic-pragmatic conditions for definiteness and number expression, thereby equally diverging from their lexifiers.
    Interestingly, they seem to share these conditions with most other creole languages that have been studied in sufficient depth. Creole emergence thus constitutes another rich source of data for the theory of NP interpretation.