Pidgin and Creole Languages: Essays in Memory of John E. Reinecke

  • About the Book
  • This book is for the memory of John E. Reinecke, a man whose humanistic activism and sharp-hewn scholarship helped to shape the scientific study of pidgin and creole languages throughout much of the twentieth century. Reinecke was both a social reformer and a leading sociolinguistic researcher working with creole languages and societies that derive from diverse groups of people thrown into close social contact. Most notably, Reinecke's keen sense of social justice has had a telling effect on the social history of Hawaii. Along with his persistent efforts to obtain a fair and equal share for wage earners in sharply stratified societies, his attention early became focused on their language. By encouraging others to study what he called “marginal languages,” he was able to bring to them (and to the extraordinary issues—theoretical and practical—which they raise) a measure of prestige, both in the eyes of their speakers and in the increased attention accorded them by students of language and society.

    The book presents a description of Reinecke's life and work, the text of his own last paper on creolistics, and seventeen papers which reflect the range and vitality of the field that he did so much to open. Some of the papers reflect the issue which has come to dominate creole studies—the debate over the role of universals and of specific substrata as competing explanations of the amazing similarities that creoles, and perhaps pidgins also, exhibit across the world. Many describe the intense language contact within which language contraction and expansion occur (they do this either directly, or by supplying new data which will eventually feed such descriptions), and and some are our belated response to calls which Reinecke made in the 1930s. Fifty years ago, he saw the need for the kind of comparative studies which are only now under way—in, for example, Hazel Carter's paper, which represents a pioneering attempt to compare the suprasegmentals of English-based Creoles on both sides of the Atlantic. In his last years, Reinecke strongly supported research on contact languages with non-European lexical bases. He thought this was the area from which future creole studies would derive the greatest theoretical and practical gain, and in this volume six papers answer his call by analyzing such pidgins and creoles.

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