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806007430 Hassan Basarally LANG 6000 1

Name: Hassan Basarally

ID: 806007430

Course: LING 6000- Advanced Academic Writing

Assignment: Examine the data presented in ten (10) consecutive pages of the Dictionary

of the English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago (ed. Lise Winer, Montreal: McGill-

Queen’s University Press, 2009). Use the data to develop a comprehensive description of

the most significant aspects of the language of Trinidad and Tobago. You may also use

the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage (ed. Richard Allsopp, Oxford: Oxford UP,

1996).

Due: 22/12/09

Lecturer: Dr. J. S. Ferreira

Semester: 1

Academic Year: 2009/2010

Faculty: Humanities and Education

Department: Liberal Arts

University: The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine


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Abstract

Creoles were seen as corrupted languages that required little investigation and

description. However, there are millions of Creole speakers worldwide and the field of Creole

linguistics is relatively new. There is a small corpus of linguistic data on Trinidad and Tobago

English Creole (TTEC) despite it being the first language of the majority of the country. Through

an analysis of the lexicon of TTEC found in two dictionaries of Creole English, the significant

aspects of the language were identified. The results showed that TTEC was a complex linguistic

system, like many other languages, and was unique in its use of functional shift, phonology of

vowels and consonants, inflectional system and lexical sources. The ways in which lexicon

reflect the characteristics of TTEC mentioned provided insight into how the language developed

its word stock and corpus.


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Outline

Topic: Examine the data presented in ten (10) consecutive pages of the Dictionary of the

English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago (ed. Lise Winer, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University

Press, 2009). Use the data to develop a comprehensive description of the most significant aspects

of the language of Trinidad and Tobago. You may also use the Dictionary of Caribbean English

Usage (ed. Richard Allsopp, Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996).

Narrowed Topic: A comprehensive description of the most significant aspects of the language

of Trinidad and Tobago using the letter ‘P’ in both dictionaries.

Thesis Statement: Trinidad and Tobago English Creole has distinct morpho-syntactic,

phonological and lexical features. The most significant aspects of the language are seen in

functional shift, the extent of inflection, distinct vowels and consonants and a variety of lexical

sources.

Topic Topic Sentence

Functional Shift Individual lexical items can function in different word

classes.

Vowels and Consonants Trinidad and Tobago English Creole have consonant

cluster reduction in the word final position and distinct

phonological features which creates distinct pronunciation.

Inflection Trinidad and Tobago English Creole is an analytic

language and makes little to no use of inflectional

morphology.

Lexical Sources Trinidad and Tobago’s history of language contact has

resulted in words of different lexical sources. Many of


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these language sources are unrelated and retain their

morpho-syntactic features.
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Creole languages are spoken by millions of speakers, in different geographical areas

around the globe. The significant aspects of a language entail its history, word stock, and

morpho-syntactic processes. This is particularly relevant to Trinidad and Tobago English Creole

(TTEC) as it describes the sociolinguistic history of the language. TTEC has distinct morpho-

syntactic, phonological and lexical features. The most significant aspects of the language are

seen in functional shift, the extent of inflection, distinct vowels and consonants and a variety of

lexical sources.

Pidgins are reduced languages formed from extended contact between two speech

communities with no language in common. The term reduced refers to the simplified structure

and limited vocabulary, as the pidgin’s purpose is limited to functionality, for example trade, and

not prolonged communication. Simultaneously, pidgins are stable in meaning and grammar

through tertiary hybridization in which more than two groups use the pidgin. When the

superstrate become less important an expanded pidgin is formed. A major theory is that Creoles

are formed from pidgins that have been learnt as a first language by a generation of speakers.

The pidgin is expanded to meet more functions and consists of a superstrate and substrate.

Creoles are classified according to lexifier or lexical source, location, socio-historical

developments, function, and structural features. The lexical source refers to the superstrate

language or the speakers with more power; however a Creole also has influence from other

substrate languages. Therefore, the words are from the socially dominant language while other

features are form the less dominant or substrate language. In terms of lexifier or superstrate,

there are English lexicon creoles like Trinidad and Tobago English Creole , French ones like

Mauritian, Dutch lexicon creoles e.g. Afrikaans in South Africa, Portuguese ones e.g. Forro in
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Sao Tome and Spanish lexicon creoles like Chavacano in the Philippines and Malaysia

(Schiffman).

Generally, Creoles developed in areas which has easy access to the sea, that is why

Creoles can be divided into Pacific Creoles e.g. Tok Pisin in Papua New Guinea, Indian Ocean

Creoles e.g. Mauritian in Mauritius and Atlantic Creoles e.g. Belizean Kriol in Belize. Most

Creoles developed after European colonial expansion but not all Creoles have a European

lexifier. There exists Arabic based Creole languages e.g. Nubi, Ngbandi based ones e.g. Sango

and Chinese based Creole languages e.g. Singdarin. Trinidad and Tobago English Creole is an

Atlantic Creole and possesses both features similar to other Creoles and unique to the language.

Individual lexical items can function in different word classes. Due to the analytic nature

of the language functional shift occurs. In analytic languages almost every word consists of a

single morpheme (Comrie, 43). A functional shift is when a single word can occur in different

word categories without being marked or inflection added. This feature occurs in Trinidad and

Tobago English Creole and other English Creoles in the Caribbean. Nouns and adjectives

function as verbs, which can be seen in parang, which is used both as a noun and verb to

describe the Christmas songs in Trinidad Spanish dialect and the act of serenading respectively

(“Parang”).Verbs and adjectives function as a noun, as in paranging (“Paranging”). And verbs

and nouns act as adjectives, for example, pan is a noun that can mean a container or a musical

instrument and can be used as an adjective; of or pertaining to the pan or steel band (“Pan”).

Trinidad and Tobago English Creole has consonant cluster reduction in the word final

position and distinct phonological features which creates distinct pronunciation. The main reason

for this is ease of articulation. According to Allsopp, the phonemes (ə, , ð and ŋ) are replaced

by (, t/f, d and n) respectively (xlv). TTEC is an analytic language and makes little to no use
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of inflectional morphology. This characteristic is a direct result of the reduction of word final

consonant clusters. Aceto states that the “past tense allomorphs /-d/, /-t/ and /- d/ are generally

absent in Creole varieties in English, but it is difficult to be certain if they always were” (487).

Though the past tense allomorphs and other inflectional endings may not be apparent, Trinidad

and Tobago English Creole utilises different methods to achieve the same end. These

characteristics are seen in the two main constitutes of a sentence: the noun phrase and verb

phrase.

Holm states that the unmarked verb is present in most Atlantic Creoles (175). These

indicated by word order. This would entail the possessor of the item occurring before the item

itself in a sentence. This is seen in the sentence: That is Natasha bag. The position of the

possessor directly before the item possessed has the same function as the Standard English

possessive marker /s/. External markers are used for plurality. One of Trinidad and Tobago

English Creole’s most recognisable features is its method of pluralisation. Unlike the superstrate,

English, the language does not employ ‘-s’ and ‘-es’ in the word final position. Instead a free

morpheme ‘dem’ and ‘an dem’. Hence, the plural of panman would be panman an dem. The use

of /an/ is an example of the absence of /-d/ as mentioned by Aceto. This feature is also a result

of the reduction of the final consonant cluster (Allsopp, xlvii).

Trinidad and Tobago English Creole sometimes uses the Standard English plurals as

singular nouns. Examples are pants and peas which can be preceded by the article a. Noun

formation process in Trinidad and Tobago English Creole addition of another free noun to make

compound nouns or noun phrases. Nouns that are added include ‘man’, ‘broom’, ‘woman’ and

‘lady’. A fast bowler is a paceman (“Paceman”). The is also ‘pan man’ and ‘pan woman’ which
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means a person who plays a pan in a steelband (“Pan beater”). There is ‘phulourie balls’, an

Indian delicacy (“Pholourie”).

The distinct phonological features of Trinidad and Tobago English Creole created

variation in the spelling, the phonetic representation of words have not been standardised. An

aspect of TTEC is that sometimes the phoneme /a/ replaces // according to Winer (xxii). This

causes variation in spelling as seen in pandit and pundit, a Hindu religious and ritual leader

(“Pandit”). The consonant cluster reduction results in the absence of tensed endings in

pronunciation. Differences in spelling conventions are also noticeable in the word final part of

lexical items. For example, saga which is a description of trendy dressing is spelt saga and sagah

(“Saga”).

Trinidad and Tobago’s history of language contact has resulted in words of different

lexical sources. Many of these language sources are unrelated and retain some original morpho-

syntactic features. Like other languages, Trinidad and Tobago English Creole borrows words

from other sources. These borrowings are also described as “regionalisms produced by the

ecology, history and culture of the area (Allsopp, l). The country has had influences from regions

of Asia, Africa, Europe, India, and teh Middle East. Native speakers of languages from these

reasons came to Trinidad and Tobago via enslavement, indentureship and immigration. The non-

European languages formed a substrate dominated by African influences. There are instances of

completed borrowings. Examples are ‘paisa’ which is Bhojpuri for money (“Paisa”) and

‘patchoi’ which is Cantonese and Hakka Chinese for white vegetable (“Patchoi”). In addition

many loan words have been altered for ease of articulation. An example of this is ‘palet’, a

frozen, milky block on a stick, which comes from the Belizean Spanish ‘paleta’. Again the

reduction is in the word final position.


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Trinidad and Tobago English Creole maintains the morphological features of some

borrowed words and applies analogy to some nouns. The use of analogy of Standard English can

be seen in words like panmanship, pannist and panology. Standard English suffixes were added

to a word native to Trinidad and Tobago. Simultaneously, some load words have maintained the

source language’s morphological structure. This is seen in palito which maintains the Spanish

diminutive marker –ito to mean small drink of rum (“Palito”). Another example is the banana

variety chiquito (“Chiquito banana/fig”) and papito; a romantic term of address for a man

(“Papito”). From Bhojpuri, the prefix –par is used to address for great grandparents, it is used

together with the Bhojpuri loanwords for such relatives. For example, parnana is ones father’s

mother’s father (“Par-”). Similarly the Spanish masculine and feminine indicators are maintained

in the word for parang singer. The female is parandera and the male is parandero (“Parandero”).

There is a lexical choice made to maintain the masculine –o and feminine –a as TTEC adds –

man and –lady to other nouns to indicate gender.

The significant aspects of Trinidad and Tobago English Creole are its use of functional

shift, analytic nature of not using inflection, distinct phonology and spelling and lexical stock.

While some of these features are present in other Creoles, many such as TTEC’s lexical sources

and alternatives to inflection are unique to the language. This serves to highlight the need for

greater description of emerging varieties of English which Creoles are part of.
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Works Cited

Aceto, Michael. “Eastern Caribbean English-derived Language Varieties: Phonology.” A


Handbook of Varieties of English: A Multimedia Reference Tool. Berlin; New York:
Mouton de Gruyter, 2004. Googlebooks.com. Web. 22 Dec. 2009.

Allsopp, Richard. Introduction. Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. ed. Richard Allsopp,
Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996. i-lxxviii. Print.

“Chiquito.” The Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago. 2009. Print.

Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 2nd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago,
1989. Print.

“Pace man.” Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. 1996. Print.

“Paisa.” Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. 1996. Print.

“Patchoi.” Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. 1996. Print.

“Palowri balls.” Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. 1996. Print.

“Palito.” The Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago. 2009. Print.

“Pan.” Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. 1996. Print.

“Pan beater.” Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. 1996. Print.

“Pandit.” The Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago. 2009. Print.

“Panmanship.” The Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago. 2009. Print.

“Pannist.” The Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago. 2009. Print.

“Panology.” The Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago. 2009. Print.

“Papito.” The Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago. 2009. Print.

“Parandero.” The Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago. 2009. Print.

“Paranging.” The Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago. 2009. Print.

Schiffman, Harold. Pidgin and Creole Languages. U of Pennsylvania. 1997. Web. 22 Dec.
2009.

“Saga.” Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. 1996. Print.


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Winer, Lise. Introduction. The Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago. ed.
Lise Winer. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009. i-xxiv. Print