Relexification


Relexification

Relexification is a term in linguistics used to describe the mechanism of language change by which one language replaces 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 language takes the great majority of its lexicon from a superstrate or target language while 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 Karipúna are 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 Franca was 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 creole was 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 language or source language with target language vocabulary. 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, Lojban began 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:

* Caló is a jargon used by Gitanos (Spanish Gypsies), that mixes a Spanish grammar with Romany vocabulary.

* 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.

References

Bibliography

* citation
last=Bakker
first=Peter
year=1997
title=A Language of Our Own
place=New York
publisher=Oxford University Press

* citation
last=Bickerton
first=Derek
authorlink=Derek Bickerton
last2=Odo
first2=Carol
year=1976
title=General phonology and pidgin syntax
series=Change and variation in Hawaiian English
volume=1
publisher=University of Hawaii

*Brightman, Robert (1995), "Forget Culture: Replacement, Transcendence, Relexification," "Cultural Anthropology" 10:4.509-546

*citation
last=Danchev
first=Andrei
editor-last=Fisiak
editor-first=Jacek
year=1997
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
ISBN=3110152428
pages=79-108

* citation
last=DeGraff
first=Michel
year=2002
title= [http://web.mit.edu/linguistics/people/faculty/degraff/degraff-anthling-44-04.pdf Relexification: A reevaluation]
journal=Linguistic Anthropology
volume=44
issue=4
page=321-414

* citation
last=Joyce
first=James
authorlink=James Joyce
year=1916
title=A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
place=New York
publisher=The Modern Library

* citation
last=Muysken
first=Pieter
editor-last=Highfield
editor-first=Arnold
editor2-last=Valdman
editor2-first=Albert
year=1981
chapter=Halfway between Quechua and Spanish: The case for relexification
title=Historicity and variation in creole studies
pages=52-78
place=Ann Arbor
publisher=Karoma

*citation
last=Singler
first=John Victor
year=1996
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
volume=11
pages=185-230

*citation
last=Wardhaugh
first=Ronald
title=An Introduction to Sociolinguistics
edition=fourth
chapter=Pidgins and Creoles
publisher=Blackwell Publishing
year=2002
pages=57-86

*Wittmann, Henri (1989), "Relexification et argogenèse," Communication, "1er Colloque international d’argotologie", Université de Besançon, Oct. 13-1, 1989
* citation
last=Wittmann
first=Henri
year=1994
title= [http://homepage.mac.com/noula/ling/1994b-relex.pdf Relexification et créologenèse]
journal=Proceedings of the International Congress of Linguists
volume=15
issue=4
pages=335-38
place=Québec
publisher=Presses de l'Université Laval

*citation
last=Wittmann
first=Henri
last2=Fournier
first2=Robert
editor-last=Fournier
editor-first=Robert
year=1996
chapter= [http://homepage.mac.com/noula/ling/1996e-chiar.pdf Contraintes sur la relexification: les limites imposées dans un cadre théorique minimaliste]
title=Mélanges linguistiques"
pages=245-80.
place=Trois-Rivières
publisher=Presses universitaires de Trois-Rivières

Further reading

* 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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