Relexification is a term in
linguisticsused to describe the mechanism of language changeby which one languagereplaces much or all of its lexicon, including basic vocabulary, with that of another language, without drastic change to its grammar. It is principally used to describe pidgins and creoles, which have similar grammars but dissimilar lexicons, and mixed languages. [P.H. Matthews. 2007. "Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics". Second edition. Oxford.
Lyle Campbell & Mauricio J. Mixco. 2007. "A Glossary of Historical Linguistics." University of Utah Press.
David Crystal. 2003. "A Dictionary of Linguistics & Phonetics". Blackwell.] Relexification is not synonymous with lexical borrowing, which describes the situation where a language merely supplements its basic vocabulary with words from another language.
The language from which the lexicon is derived is called the "lexifier". [Harvcoltxt|Wardhaugh|2002|p=76]
New language formation
Relexification is a form of language interference in which a
pidgin, a creole or a mixed languagetakes the great majority of its lexicon from a superstrate or target languagewhile its grammar either comes from the substrate or source language, or, according to universalist theories, arises from universal principles of simplification and grammaticalisation. Michif, Media Lengua, and Karipúnaare mixed languages which arose through relexification. [Harvcoltxt|Bakker|1997, Harvcoltxt|Muysken|1981, Harvcoltxt|Wittmann|1994]
Relexification in creole genesis is highly disputed. The hypothesis that all creole languages derive their grammar from the mediaeval
Mediterranean Lingua Francawas widely held at the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s before losing its audience. The same is true for the claim that Haitian creolewas created when Fon speaking African slaves first relexified their language to French, based on "deep structure" similarities between the two languages. Harvcoltxt|Wittmann|1994, Harvcoltxt|Wittmann|Fournier|1996, Harvcoltxt|Singler|1996, and Harvcoltxt|DeGraff|2002 have shown convincingly that common underlying properties of syntax established in the comparative framework of generative grammar reflect the fundamental unity of the workings of principles and parameters of Universal Grammar, not the workings of relexification processes.
econd language acquisition
Spontaneous second language acquisition (and the genesis of
pidgins) involves the gradual relexification of the native languageor source languagewith target languagevocabulary. After relexification is completed, native language structures alternate with structures acquired from the target language. [Harvcoltxt|Bickerton|Odo|1976]
Conlangs and jargon
In the context of
constructed languages, jargons, and argots, the term is applied to the process of creating a language by substituting new vocabulary into the grammar of an existing language, often one's native language. [Wittmann (1989, 1994), Brightman (1995).]
While this practice is most often associated with novice constructed language designers, it may also be done as an initial stage towards creating a more sophisticated language. A language thus created is known as a "relex". For instance,
Lojbanbegan as a relex of Loglan, but the languages' grammars have diverged since then. [ in the Conlang Wikibook] The same process is at work in the genesis of jargons and argots. Examples of this are:
* A literary example of relexification is the comical quasi-Latin used by a character in
James Joyce's " A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man": [Harvcoltxt|Joyce|1916|p=245]
::"Ego credo ut vita pauperum est simpliciter atrox, simpliciter sanguinarius atrox, in Liverpoolio.":: I believe that the life of the poor is simply atrocious, simply bloody atrocious, in Liverpool.
title=A Language of Our Own
publisher=Oxford University Press
title=General phonology and pidgin syntax
series=Change and variation in Hawaiian English
publisher=University of Hawaii
*Brightman, Robert (1995), "Forget Culture: Replacement, Transcendence, Relexification," "Cultural Anthropology" 10:4.509-546
chapter=The Middle English creolization hypothesis revisited
title= [http://books.google.com/books?id=RppwKv9Oh8EC&dq Studies in Middle English linguistics]
publisher=Walter de Gruyter
title= [http://web.mit.edu/linguistics/people/faculty/degraff/degraff-anthling-44-04.pdf Relexification: A reevaluation]
title=A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
publisher=The Modern Library
chapter=Halfway between Quechua and Spanish: The case for relexification
title=Historicity and variation in creole studies
title=Theories of creole genesis, sociohistorical considerations, and the evaluation of evidence: The case of Haitian Creole and the Relexification Hypothesis
journal=Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages
title=An Introduction to Sociolinguistics
chapter=Pidgins and Creoles
*Wittmann, Henri (1989), "Relexification et argogenèse," Communication, "1er Colloque international d’argotologie", Université de Besançon, Oct. 13-1, 1989
title= [http://homepage.mac.com/noula/ling/1994b-relex.pdf Relexification et créologenèse]
journal=Proceedings of the International Congress of Linguists
publisher=Presses de l'Université Laval
chapter= [http://homepage.mac.com/noula/ling/1996e-chiar.pdf Contraintes sur la relexification: les limites imposées dans un cadre théorique minimaliste]
publisher=Presses universitaires de Trois-Rivières
* Arends, Jacques, Pieter Muysken & Norval Smith. 1995. "Pidgins and Creoles: an introduction." Amsterdam: Benjamins.
* Sebba, Mark. 1997. "Contact Languages: Pidgins and Creoles." Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire and London: Macmillan Press.
* Speer, Rob & Catherine Havasi (2004), "Meeting the Computer Halfway: Language Processing in the Artificial Language Lojban", Massachusetts Institute of Technology [http://sow.lcs.mit.edu/2004/proceedings/Speer.pdf]
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