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  • The Iberian Challenge: Creole Languages Beyond the Plantation Setting ed. by Armin Schwegler, John McWhorter, and Liane Ströbel
Schwegler, Armin, John McWhorter, and Liane Ströbel, eds. The Iberian Challenge: Creole Languages Beyond the Plantation Setting. Madrid: Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2016. Pp. 273. ISBN 978-8-48489-962-4.

Creole linguistics have benefitted from a considerable amount of research since the pioneering studies of Bickerton, Hancock, Mühlhäusler and others in the 1970s and 1980s, which transformed scholarship on pidgins and creoles into a field of its own. Research on the pidgins and creoles lexified by Spanish and Portuguese is no exception, but this research has yet to permeate the core of creole studies, which so far has by and large been based on data from English- and French-lexified creoles. A clear example of this bias is the still widespread assumption that slave plantations are the prototypical setting for creole development, despite the many cases of pidgins and creoles that have not originated in slave societies. The present collection of papers edited by Schwegler, McWhorter and Ströbel is a reminder of both the effervescence of research on the creoles and pidgins lexified by Iberian languages, as well as of their potential to contribute to the development of creolistics as a field.

The Iberian Challenge: Creole Languages Beyond the Plantation Setting could not have a more transparent title. As made clear by the volume editors in the introductory chapter, this project has a double goal. On the one hand, this collection of papers seeks to centralize Iberian-lexified creoles as part of the creole debate. On the other hand, it aims at broadening the sociocultural scope of research on creoles by exploring contexts other than slave plantations that have resulted in codes along the pidgin/creole continuum. The volume contains an additional 10 chapters, which focus on a large number of Spanish- and Portuguese-lexified codes typically characterized [End Page 165] as pidgins or creoles in three different continents (the Americas, Africa, and Asia) and that originated in a wide range of historical, demographic, social and cultural settings.

In chapter 1 ("Once More on the Genesis of West African Portuguese Creoles"), Kihm and Rougé survey linguistic and documentary evidence of the historical use of Portuguese in West Africa in order to challenge the traditional account of West African Portuguese creoles as having emerged largely independently from each other. Instead, they propose an out of Portugal model, whereby all these creoles originated in the L2 approximations by African slaves dating back to fifteenth-century Portugal. McWhorter's chapter 2 ("The Missing Spanish Creoles are Still Missing: Revisiting Afrogenesis and its Implications for a Coherent Theory of Creole Genesis") reviews the various strands of criticism generated by his 2000 book on the reasons for the paucity of Spanish-lexified creoles in the Americas. It re-ascertains the validity of his original proposal that virtually no creoles originated in the contact between Spanish and other languages in the Americas because Spain, unlike other colonial European powers, owned no slave trading posts on the coast of West Africa, which prevented the creation of a Spanish-based pidgin. Chapter 3 ("On the Relevance of Classical Portuguese Features in Four Atlantic Creoles"), by Jacobs and Quint, studies the presence of classical Portuguese features in four Atlantic creoles (Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Casamance, Papiamentu and Saramaccan), and sheds light on the historical and demographic conditions that gave birth to each of these creole varieties. In chapter 4 ("Documenting 17th-century Língua de Preto: Evidence from the Coimbra Archives"), Luís and Estudante unearth new evidence concerning the use of língua de preto (a literary representation of L2 Portuguese by African slaves in continental Portugal) from a seventeeth-century collection of vilancicos (religious songs), and compare this evidence to the earlier, widely-known corpus from the works by Gil Vicente. They conclude that these vilancicos show that the naturalistic codes that inspired língua de preto in Portugal persisted well into the seventeenth century and illustrate the emergence of new features in the L2 approximations to Portuguese, different from those of the sixteenth century. Li's chapter 5 ("Macau Pidgin Portuguese and Creole Portuguese: A Continuum?") studies the grammatical similarities between Macau Creole Portuguese and Macau Pidgin Portuguese within the historical context of the foundation and development of the Macau colony. It is concluded that both varieties operated in a sociolinguistic continuum that also included Portuguese and Chinese Pidgin English. Chapter 6, "Philippine Creole Spanish ("Chabacano"): Accusative Marking in Caviteño. Grammatical and Discursive Functions," by Pérez, focuses on the use of the dative case marker kon (transferred from Tagalog) for inanimate objects in Cavite Creole Spanish, and analyzes the apparently erratic patterns of use of this marker as triggered by complex, albeit not random, discourse factors. In chapter 7 ("Palenquero and Spanish: What's in the Mix?"), Lipski reports on a series of experimental tasks to test the perception of boundaries between Palenquero and Spanish by bilingual speakers, and concludes that speakers rely on several lexical and formal cues, rather than on a sharp criterion, to distinguish between both languages. In a similar experimental vein, chapter 8 ("Ηow Psycholinguistics Can Inform Contact Linguistics: Converging Evidence against a Decreolization View of Palenquero"), by Dussias, Gullifer, and Poepsel, studies the degree of interdependence between the systems of Palenquero and Spanish in the minds of their speakers by means of a language-switching task. Their evidence suggests that these two languages are still cognitively separate for their users, and that Palenquero is not undergoing decreolization towards Spanish. Gutiérrez Maté's chapter 9 ("Reconstructing the Linguistic History of Palenques: On the Nature and Relevance of Colonial Documents") makes a case about the importance of reliable renditions of colonial documentation to study the formation, structure and development of slave maroon communities, and presents examples from Palenque de San Basilio (Colombia) and Maniel de Neyba (Hispaniola). Finally, chapter 10 ("Truth Reset: Pragmatics in Palenquero Negation"), by Schwegler, describes the various negation patterns present in Palenquero (NEG1 nu + verb; NEG2 nu verb nu; NEG3 verb nu) and the pragmatic principles that determine [End Page 166] their use; more specifically, the choice is made on the basis of a scale of the TRUTH value of the proposition.

This volume constitutes a remarkable contribution to the field of Iberian creole linguistics, which has grown with a considerable amount of research in the past several years. However, the fact that most of this research has been published in the form of journal papers or single-author monographs about specific varieties means that the cross-linguistic perspective is not always prominent in these studies. The papers that integrate this volume underscore precisely that perspective. The dialogue among the chapters in this collection occurs at several levels. Geographically, Iberian-lexified creoles and pidgins on three continents are covered. Linguistically, both Spanish- and Portuguese-lexified codes are contrasted, and the reader has the chance to assess the diachronic and structural differences and similarities among the varieties lexified by each language. Perhaps most interestingly, this volume exemplifies the advantages of applying an interdisciplinary and multi-methodological lens in order to gain a better understanding of the history of a language or a group of related languages. Thus, this volume combines papers based on experimental research (Lispki; Dussias, Gullifer and Poepsel), archival research (Luís and Estudante; Gutiérrez Maté), sociohistorical approaches (McWhorter; Li), various forms of corpus-based research, including field data (Pérez; Schwegler), or a combination of several of these perspectives (Kihm and Rougé; Jacobs and Quint). In addition, it is worth mentioning that this volume does succeed in the two goals posed by the editors as central to their project: to reclaim the role that the evidence from Iberian-lexified creoles should play in any account of pidginization and creolization, and to push the research agenda on creoles beyond the confines of slave plantations. Editorially, this volume has been carefully arranged, both in terms of structure and content. In short, this is a very significant contribution to the fields of creole linguistics, Ibero-Romance languages, and language contact and change, and one that should become a necessary reference for scholars in the said fields.

Israel Sanz
West Chester University

Additional Information

ISSN
2153-6414
Print ISSN
0018-2133
Pages
165-167
Launched on MUSE
2018-04-28
Open Access
No
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