the interlanguage hypothesis as a model of pidgin/Creole genesis: evidence from Cameroon Pidgin English

FitzGerald, Sarah (2022) the interlanguage hypothesis as a model of pidgin/Creole genesis: evidence from Cameroon Pidgin English. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This research tests the predictions of the interlanguage hypothesis developed by Ingo Plag (2008) on data from Cameroon Pidgin English (CPE), a West African pidgin/creole language. Plag’s approach draws parallels between the grammatical structures found in pidgin/creole languages and those of early-stage interlanguages. Plag uses processability theory, a cognitive theory of second language acquisition, to provide a theoretical underpinning to his approach. Plag’s model, while compelling has not to date been systematically tested. This thesis closes that empirical gap.

The research conducted for this study provides support for Plag’s hypothesis. The analysis presented in this thesis is conducted in three parts: (i) An analysis based on Processibility Theory is conducted on CPE data, establishing that, for the most part, the language resembles an early-stage interlanguage. (ii) An analysis of the most likely source for each of the grammatical features of CPE is conducted in order to compare Plag’s interlanguage hypothesis with two other major competing theories of pidgin/creole genesis. This analysis provides further evidence in favour of Plag’s theory while finding little evidence in favour of the alternate theories. (iii) An analysis of the types of features that were incorporated into CPE as it developed is conducted, with results that further support Plag’s interlanguage hypothesis. Combined, the findings of these analyses provide convincing evidence in support of Plag’s hypothesis.

This thesis contributes to our knowledge on pidgin/creole linguistics in several ways. Firstly, it provides empirical support for Plag’s interlanguage hypothesis. Secondly, it establishes a methodological approach for applying Processability Theory to pidgin/creole data. Finally, it entails tracing a thorough history of CPE, proposing several languages that may have influenced the pidgin/creole as it developed and providing a typological sketch based on the earliest records of spoken Cameroon Pidgin English.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English > PE1700 Dialects. Provincialisms, etc. > PE2751 English outside of the British Isles > PE3401 Africa > PE3441 West Africa > PE3442.A-Z Local, A-Z > PE3442.C3 Cameroon
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2022 12:56
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2022 12:56

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