is a hypothetical phenomenon whereby over time a creole language
reconverges with one of the standard languages from which it originally derived. First proposed by Keith Whinnom
at the 1968
Mona conference, the concept has come under fire in recent years from such linguists as Bickerton
since at its inception it sought to overturn long-held elements of the theory of creole continua
Decreolization is a process of homogenization a creole language
may undergo when in contact with one of its parent languages, particularly if the parent language is ascribed a prestige
value. To put it another way, in decreolization, the influence of the superstrate language
dismantles influences from substrate languages
If one views pidginization as a process of simplification, reduction, and admixture from substrate languages, and creolization as the expansion of the language to combat reduction, then decreolization attacks both simplification and admixture.
As languages remain in contact over time, they inevitably influence one another. Typically, the language with higher prestige (most often the lingua franca) will exert a much greater influence on the lower prestige language (the creole). This leads to the reintroduction of complexities, irregularities and redundancies into the creole from the source language. Elements of other sources begin to disappear as there is less and less linguistic territory for them to cover. It is theorized that eventually the creole will resemble the source language to such a degree that it can then be called a dialect of that language rather than a separate language at all.
Another name for a near-fully decreolized language is a “vestigial post-creole.”
, which exists in continuum with Jamaican English
and Standard English
, shows evidence of decreolization. Jamaican Creole is much more akin to standard English than most other English-based creole languages
. Also, the creole is recognized by Jamaicans as “bad English,” the more standard varieties being more common in educated and urban settings, so there is conscious effort made to alter the speech of poorer, rural folk towards the English norm
. The conclusion of this is that Jamaican exists in a post-creole speech continuum
in which the less prestigious varieties are undergoing decreolization.
Many who study the formation of African American Vernacular English (AAVE)
consider it to be a prime example of decreolization. According to this viewpoint, AAVE developed from a pidginized form of English with African influences used to communicate between slaves. This then developed into a creole language
which, over hundreds of years of contact with standard varieties of American English
, has undergone decreolization to the point that it is now simply a low prestige dialect of English. Proponents of this viewpoint label AAVE a vestigial post-creole.
This view is not without controversy, as there are many other studies indicating that structures found within AAVE are also present in isolated British Isles populations, suggesting that AAVE and other varieties of American English simply retained different aspects of a larger linguistic pool over time.
- Trudgill, Peter (2000). Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society, 4th ed. Penguin.